This one’s probably a bit unfair. A couple hints: it’s invasive and almost never grows to be this big. Taken after being cut down in November 2004, although the stump is still there.
Week 2 Answer
This one’s a fairly small bird, perched on a peanut feeder. That should eliminate a lot of things, although I have seen just about every yard bird of that size on that feeder at one time or another.
The underside is a bright reddish brown, the tail is long, thin, and spotted, and the throat appears to be paler. There’s not much that matches that. Like last week, this is a wren. This time, however, it’s a Carolina Wren.
Carolina Wrens are easily found all over Waltham. Although I haven’t confirmed breeding yet, there’s absolutely no doubt that they are. Although in previous years, they would drop down in harsh winters, I’ve noticed no such reduction lately (in fact, there’s been two in the yard for the first time recently).
Again, I haven’t publicized at all and there were no responses. Now that I’m on wordpress, comments should be possible so it might pick up a bit.
Week 1 Answer
Let’s start with the fact that it’s a small, brown bird (not everything in these quizzes will be birds). The size and color limits us to sparrows, wrens, creepers, and that’s about it. Sparrows all have thicker bills and creepers are almost always found on tree trunks and not on little twigs (besides being thinner, having a more patterned wing, and shorter legs).
So, among the wrens, there’s 4 known from Waltham: Carolina, House, Winter, and Marsh.
Carolina’s a very differently colored bird with a big eyestripe. Marsh Wrens are paler
below and also have a prominent eyestripe. House and Winter Wrens are similar, but
Winter has a much shorter tail. It’s also much more likely to be found in Waltham in
January (according to Birds of Massachusetts, Winter Wrens are regular overwinterers
and House Wrens only very occasionally in the southeast and the Cape).
So, a Winter Wren. In Waltham, I’ve only had them at Met State, although I’ve had them
pretty regularly there. I’ve also heard about records around Prospect Hill and at least one
Since I haven’t made any announcements of this quiz, I got no responses.
For 2008, I’m going to start a weekly quiz. It’ll be the Waltham Taxon of the Week and may include just about anything. I’ll attempt to post a picture once a week and the following week post some information about it and a new picture. I’ll attempt to actually take the picture during the week, in Waltham, although I may use some old ones if necessary. All will be from the right time frame at least.
No prizes and I doubt anyone will actually participate, but email me if you think you know an answer or have any other commentary. I may try to set up some form of comment system for this.