Spot the bird!

This photo comes from reader Diane G., who tells us there’s a bird in it, but she isn’t going to identify it here. Her notes:

My son and I did some birding in Arizona Memorial Day week-end, and as always we took tons of pics at several different venues.  Sorting through them later, I  came to the shot I’m submitting and for the life of me couldn’t remember what on earth I hoped to capture in such a mess. Without a search image it took me a while but when I eventually found the bird it was pretty obvious.  Perhaps you should invite readers to not only find the bird but identify it as well.  Location info: Saguaro National Park East, just outside of Tucson.

If you click on the photo it should enlarge.  So, go find the bird and then identify it. This ranks as “pretty hard”. The reveal will be up at 12:30 Chicago time.


  1. Diane G
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for putting this up, Jerry!

    I was curious as to how it would appear, and indeed the resolution here is inferior to the pic I sent. I wonder if WP automatically resizes pics? At any rate, I hope the reveal is better, not that that will help those trying to find it here.

    • Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I like them fuzzy. It makes it like a post-modern humanities course—everyone can be right.

  2. Dominic
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Think I can see two – a body & a head – but not knowing US birds … mourning dove on left? Or Roadrunner?

  3. thegarlicks
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Jerry! I hope you don’t think my comment there was at all intended to be critical of you! It’s just an acknowledgment of a problem that’s been bothering many of us trying to find the whatevers. Didn’t used to see pics degraded like that, which really makes me wonder if it’s some new “feature” imposed by WP to save bandwidth…

    OTOH, if my emailed file isn’t any sharper than the website reproduction I have no idea how to fix that!

    (This pic wasn’t all that sharp to begin with, of course, but still much better than the posted copy.)

    Maybe Michael Fisher can solve the problem for us! He’s a kick. 😀

    • Diane G
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      LOL. Way to go, Diane. This was meant to be a personal reply to Jerry, not a post. Oh, well..

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink


    • Michael Fisher
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      The image size is 1280 x 960 when I download it from WEIT.

      Is that the size you emailed?

      • Diane G
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        *checks properties”

        It was 4000 x 3000. Sigh.

      • Diane G
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Usually I do resize before sending but this time I thought I’d try sending the virgin file to see if that corrected the problem. (No.)

  4. darrelle
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I think I’ve found the bird, right in the area you would expect if the photographer saw the bird and intentionally targeted it. Kind of low resolution for and ID, at least for my ignorant self. I’m going to guess a Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca) based mostly on what I can make out of the beak.

  5. Liz
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I think I got it and the species also.

    • Liz
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Okay so my guess is a Barn owl (Tyto alba).

  6. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I think there might be a troop of Pikas behind that cactus. Not sure what they are doing there though…

  7. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    It looks like there is a wren. Considering where the picture was taken and the location of the bird it would probably be a cactus wren. Then again it could be pareidolia.

  8. Paul S
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Spot the Cactus? That was easy.

  9. Frank Bath
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It looks like a bird of prey of some kind. I can see its eyes looking over its back. I think…

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I think I see a common barn owl or a bit of wood in the middle of the top right quadrant. Here’s the image at 300% :-
    common barn owl

    • Diane G
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      That looks more like a cicada to me. 😀

      But sorry, that’s not the right area. Darn, this is frustrating.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Pity. Can’t see anything else clearly enough. We need a Go Fund Me type thing to pay for a WordPress maven to sort out WEIT, but Jerry wouldn’t go for it.

        There’s an indirect hosting system [I think] that would pop images out of the page with a click & not use WordPress to host them. [rather like my image above lives at flickr not WordPress]

        WP shrinks images to fit in the width controlled by the WEIT theme CSS
        Also WP only permits files below a certain size, but I’m fuzzy on the details

        • thegarlicks
          Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          That’s exactly what I was worried about. Seems like it didn’t used to be so cantankerous, though. I do have a Flickr account–I’ll try posting it there, etc.

      • Liz
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        In the upper left of the picture there is something that looks like a stingray. It might be a bird about the size of a barn owl a bit to the right of that perched on a branch with some black and yellow on the front of it.

        • Diane G
          Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          I see what you mean, but I’m afraid that’s not it. 😦

          I hope the Flickr version looks better to you?

  11. George
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I think I see something in the bush. If the bush was on fire, it might be god talking to me.

    • Diane G
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink


  12. Diane G
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Uploaded pic to Flickr. Worth a shot. (So to speak.)

    Find the bird--test

    • Diane G
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Well, IMO that’s better!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Yes – mucho betterer via flickr
      Although I would still not have spotted that birdie

      Enjoyed the picture nevertheless – trying to figure out the flora which looks weird to Brit eyes

      What’s the purple flowering bush thing housing the bird for example? Looks like a bunch of manic pool noodles

      • Diane G
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:06 am | Permalink

        I believe that is some kind of Cholla (pronounced the Spanish [or “Spanglish”] way–choy-yuh), a common name for several species of similar morphology. (There are 10 Cholla species in my Arizona cactus field guide (which contains only “50 of the most common and widespread cactus species in Arizona”). From the pics in the guide the most likely possibilities (if the one in the photo is one of the aforementioned 50) are Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor) and Buckhorn Cholla (C. acanthrocarpa), though that conclusion comes from only a cursory look at the overall form of the single pic (of the whole plant) per species that the pocket-sized guide presents. (It also has close-up shots of the various features that help with ID, but since I don’t have any of those myself I can’t really use them to figure out which most resemble the one with the bird in it.)

        PS: On my computer it’s the stems/branches that look purple. Closer inspection shows what may be reddish flower buds here and there (if they’re not cacti fruit!).

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted June 5, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

          Thanks Diane. A Google tour of Cholla suggests it’s the staghorn – the branches themselves being purple

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Got it. But now I have changed the ID since this one has better resolution. I thought it was species A, and now I know its species B.

      • Diane G
        Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:08 am | Permalink

        So glad you (all) can finally see what I intended to have posted in the first place!

        Out of curiosity–what was species A?

  13. Diane G
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for your patience! Glad the Flickr pic helped.

    I just uploaded a cropped pic to Flickr which on my computer anyway has the original “resolution” (to use the work loosely) I intended to have appear here.

    Pic at Flickr page:

    IMG_5247 cropped- cryptic Curve-billed Thrasher

    Pic using Flickr embedding link:

    IMG_5247 cropped- cryptic Curve-billed Thrasher

    Acid test: *clicks post*

    • Diane G
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s always something! Last time I posted the Flickr page url instead of the embedding link, only the url appeared. Oh, well.

      Either here or there (Flickr) I’m now seeing something that looks like the original. To me, once your eyes find it, it’s clear (very loose definition of “clear”) there’s a bird in the upper middle, tail sticking up to the right, head with yellow eye and part of bill showing as your eyes move down and left.

      Meanwhile, Jerry’s told me that he replaced the original photo that first appeared at the beginning of this post with the Flickr link, and to my eye that one looks better too.

      Moral of the story–always submit photos via Flickr links (I assume other photo hosting sites will accomplish the same result.)

      The last time I submitted a “Find the” photo (a shot my daughter took that had 3 or 4 cryptic frogs in it) this problem didn’t occur. But for some time now we would-be solvers have been annoyed at the poor quality of the originally posted photo. Ergo, I say this is a recent Word Press phenomenon. Those of you who know more about computers (pretty much everyone 🙂 ), please correct me if I’m wrong.

      So sorry for all the annoying posts. I’m just so anal I had to get to the bottom of this ongoing phenomenon–or at least find a way to override it.

      (Hmmm, “anal” and “bottom” in the same sentence. Freud strikes again.”

    • Diane G
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      “work” should be “word” Sigh.

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