Hoorah! Lots of answers proferred on this latest quiz! For Bird A, everyone responded with scaup. But what kind of scaup? We don’t see a lot of scaup generally, so I don’t have a great deal of experience with these i.d.s, but fortunately, I have found one detail to latch onto in making the distinction between Greater and Lesser Scaup: just how much white is in the wing? In the Greater (refer to this photo in the fabulous digital collection at the Slater Museum out at the University of Puget Sound), the white in the wing clearly extends well into the primary feathers. In the Lesser (as in this photo), the white fades out rather quickly, leaving only a light brownish color in the primaries. Thus, I feel fairly certain that Bird A is a Lesser Scaup.
Bird B threw a lot of people for a loop. Is it a godwit? A heron? Or a bird with no business being on a beach, like…an American Woodcock?! A friend of mine who works in downtown Boston found three dead Woodcock on the ground outside her heavily windowed building. They likely struck the glass and knocked themselves dead. This species is good at that, since their eyes are located almost on the backs of their heads so they tend not to see in front of them all that well. Because of this incident, I had the species on my mind when I looked at our Bird B. I do think Bird B is a Woodcock, though it’s a little difficult to make out its facial features from this angle. But the eyes do appear to be quite a bit farther back on the head than they would be in a godwit or other shorebird (though the forest-dwelling, earthworm-eating Woodcock is, itself, a shorebird by classification). The bill on Bird B is quite long, but straight, rather than upturned as in a godwit, and the white tips of the underside of the tail feathers are also a hint, recalling the displays of live Woodcock who tip their tails up in display like such. One of my favorite species, so I might be susceptible to seeing them where they aren’t, but I really do think this is our Bird B!