Mystery plumage

Last year I posted a quiz called Mystery eyes, this year I’ve prepared one about plumage. One of the things I enjoy most about bird photography is seeing the exquisite detail of birds which are usually moving quickly or are so far away that we see an impression of their beauty rather than the specifics. Identification guesses are welcome via the comment button below, I’ll keep comments under wraps until next week when I’ll reveal the species associated with these beautiful feathers.

 

1 PlumageMystery plumage 1

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Young KookaburraMystery plumage 2

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Welcome SwallowMystery plumage 3

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1d plumageMystery plumage 4

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1e plumageMystery plumage 5

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1f plumageMystery plumage 6

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1g plumageMystery plumage 7

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1h plumageMystery plumage 8

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1j plumageMystery plumage 9

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1k plumageMystery plumage 10

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Hooded Plover Running ByMystery plumage 11

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Pacific Black DuckMystery plumage 12

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Whistling KiteMystery plumage 13

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Mystery plumage - Kim WormaldMystery plumage 14

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 Mystery plumage - Kim Wormald 2
Mystery plumage 15

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Feathers are complex and remarkable. Vaned feathers include wing and tail feathers and have central or off-centred shaft and an interlocking barbed structure that makes them windproof. Contour feathers cover the bird’s body and are fluffy closest to the skin. Semiplume and down feathers create a fluffy layer that provides insulation – I’m always impressed by the ability of birds to survive extreme temperatures. Some birds have filoplumes that are similar to a mammal’s whiskers, and some have bristles that are generally around a bird’s face and may help protect their eyes or guide insects into their bills when foraging. Other feathers have developed purely for decoration and aid in the selection of partners. The colouration and patterns of feathers can aid in camouflage as well sexual selection. Even the most brightly coloured birds can be incredibly well camouflaged due to disruptive patterning which effectively breaks up the outline of the bird.

Birds keep their feathers in good condition by preening. Some birds have powder down feathers that continually break down and provide a fine dust that is spread over the bird as it preens and which helps to lubricate and waterproof the feathers. Other birds have a preen gland that is located just above the tail which secretes an oil which the bird distributes during preening. Over time feathers fade and wear out and are replaced through moulting. Feathers are sequentially moulted in symmetrical stages which enables birds to continue flying as their feathers are replaced. 

I think plumage will be more difficult to identify than last year’s eyes and identifying any of the images will be impressive. One species is represented twice, so that might help.

Happy quizzing and happy birding, Kim

 

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29 comments to Mystery plumage

  • lirralirra

    What tremendous guesses on a tricky series of images! I’m very impressed. Thank you all for having a go both here and on fb where numbers 13 and 6 were also nailed, along with number 3 which amazed me until the lovely honest birder said he’d seen the name come up when the image was loading.

  • Hi Kimberley. That’s a toughy! I moved to Oz in 2002 so I’ve only really nailed the birds in my local area in SE Qld, and even then I’ve still a lot to learn. My guesses are: 1. Nankeen Kestrel 2. Kookaburra 3. Who knows! 4. Osprey 5. Purple Swamphen 6. No idea! 7. Barn Owl 8. Harrier? 9. Spotted Dove. 10. Pacific Black Duck 11. ? 12. another duck…Teal perhaps 13. God knows! 14. Common Bronzewing. 15. Tawny Frogmouth. Well, at least I gave it a go! Happy birding, Rob.

    • lirralirra

      Hi Rob, you gave it a great go! You’re right with the kestrel, the kookaburra, you’re the first one to nail the osprey, the swamphen, the Barn Owl, the dove, the blackie, the bronzewing and the tawny. I think the ‘who knows’, the ‘no idea’ and the ‘God knows’ should all get a guernsey too, they made me laugh. Number 12 is another duck.

  • Anna

    These are my educated guesses:

    14. Crested pigeon
    10. Black duck
    7. Barn owl
    15. Tawny frogmouth
    9. Spotted dove

    • lirralirra

      Hi Anna, number 14 is in the pigeon family but isn’t a crested – lots of people on fb thought it was a crested too. You’re right with all the others!

  • Yeah…not a clue on any of them but I now know more about feathers and structures than I did before so BONUS! LOL Just love seeing the close up images – shows how amazing birds are even when not in full frame.

  • 1. Nankeen Kestrel
    2.
    3. Kookaburra
    4.
    5. Purple Swamphen
    6.
    7. Masked Owl
    8. Little Eagle
    9. Spotted Turtle Dove
    10. Pacific Black Duck
    11.
    12.
    13.
    14. Bronzewing Pigeon
    15.

    • lirralirra

      Hi Voren, you’re the first one to get the kookaburra! You’re also right with the kestrel, the swamphen, the dove, the black duck and the bronzewing. The Masked Owl could easily have been right too, a very similar species, and image 8 is a bird of prey.

  • Hi Kim, great idea! I’ll have a crack at a few. The first looks like an Australian Kestrel. Number 5 may be a Fairy-wren, 7 a Barn Owl, 9 a Spotted Turtle-dove, 10 a Pacific Black Duck, 14 a Common Bronzewing and 15 maybe a Tawny Frogmouth?
    Looking forward to the answers.
    Craig

    • lirralirra

      Hi Craig, you’re spot on with the kestrel, the Barn Owl, the dove, the blackie, the bronzewing and the tawny.Congratulations! I can see what you mean with the colour of image 5, I’d never realised how similar they are, though this bird is much larger than a fairy-wren.

      • lirralirra

        PS Craig, I’ve tried without success to leave a message on your site, beaut images and I look forward to hearing more about your trip to the Kimberley. Let me know if you okay with me adding a link to your site.

        • Hi Kim, i’ll have to check my settings to allow comments. Thats ok to add a link to my site. Thanks.

          • lirralirra

            It may be my settings Craig, it happens with sites that don’t allow a name/url comment – I just had an idea to try again with an email address not related to WordPress and it worked!

  • Leanne

    Wow this is going to be hard!! I think I might be able to get three of them, spotted turtle dove, bronzewing and barn owl but I’ll do this later when I have a pen and paper and can guess properly! How fun! Maybe you’ll need to do a talon/foot and beak one too!

    • lirralirra

      You’re right on the three you listed and I’m sure you would have guessed more if you’d had a chance. I like your ideas for next year’s quiz, thank you!

  • The textures and the colours are incredible.
    I am not going to display my ignorance and will simply say how much I love them. Thank you.

  • Alyssa

    Maybe I’m seeing pigeons everywhere but 3 looks pigeony to me too

  • Alyssa

    This is tough! I have guessed a few but I’m only really confident of four (7, 9, 10,15). It’s good fun! They are spectacular 🙂
    1. Chestnut teal
    2. Grey teal
    5. PUKEKO
    7. Barn owl
    8. Some kind of bird of prey
    9. Spotted turtle dove
    10. Pacific black duck
    11. Barn owl
    13. Wedge tail eagle
    14. Pigeon
    15. Tawny frogmouth

    • lirralirra

      It’s crazily hard to ID them out of context, you’ve done well. The four you were confident about are all right! You’re also right with the pukeko. Numbers 8 and 13 are birds of prey and number 14 is in the pigeon family. I’m impressed!

  • John Fennell

    These aren’t easy at all. My guesses so far are 1. Kestrel, 2 Bronze cuckoo?, 3. Immature blue wren superb?, 4 ?, 5 ?, 6 ?, Barn owl, 8 Hobby, 9 Spotted turtle dove, 10 Pacific black duck, 11 ?, 12 ?, 13 Wedge tailed eagle?, 14 Common bronzewing, 15 Tawny frogmouth. Which ones do I need to think about again apart from the ?? ones?

    • lirralirra

      Hi John, you’re right with the kestrel, the Barn Owl, the Spotted Dove, the Pacific Black Duck, the Common Bronzewing and the tawny. That’s impressive! 13 is a raptor but not an eagle. Congratulations on getting so many right so quickly 🙂

  • Anne

    absolutely beautiful details on the feathers thank you.

  • Jenny Skewes

    Oh dear they are hard, but so beautiful.
    I am going for no 7 Barn Owl, and no 10 Pacific Black Duck.
    There’s a chance that no 8 could be a juvenile Hobby??
    Another great entry Kim!

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