Bird Name Trivia Quiz, Part 3: Colors

This is the third in a series. Hoping to compile a total of 100 original trivia questions related to bird names.

Part 1: Numbers

Part 2: People

Good bird names are descriptive. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is a wonderful name; it describes a feature, and a behavior. It includes a color, and that is even better; an image comes to mind, it seems, much more readily when one can picture the coloration. A very rough estimate suggests that at least 3,000 or so birds have some kind of color included in their common name (I’m working on an exact count). This can show up in many ways, such as with a general, overall descriptor (“Indigo Bunting”), or as a part of a general name (“Yellowthroat”), or in terms of a feature (“Red-headed Woodpecker”), or as one of several colors (“Black-and-white Warbler”), or my least favorite, the form that includes a useless hyphen (such as “Little Green-Pigeon”, an example which seems particularly silly given that there was also a “Spotted Green Pigeon” which was green with yellow spots… why is hyphen use not consistent?!)

So with all that, here are a few trivia questions related to bird names that include specific colors.

Question # 1:

Which one color most commonly shows up in bird names?

(The featured image for this page gives a very sneaky, devious hint. That really wasn’t very nice, but I didn’t want to give the answer away too easily.)


Question # 2:

About how many species include this most common color?

(a) 153

(b) 211

(c) 346

(d) 508

(e) 698


At the other extreme, there are colors which only rarely make it into bird names. The question below features a few examples.

Question #3:

Each of the these colors appear in at least one bird name. But which one occurs just once?

(a) Cerulean

(b) Vermilion

(c) Salmon

(d) Viridian


Question #4:

Consider the birds which include the color black in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(a) Black-throated

(b) Black-headed

(c) Black-bellied

(d) Black-vented

(e) Black-winged


Question #5:

Consider the birds which include the color white in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(a) White-throated

(b) White-headed

(c) White-bellied

(d) White-eye(d)

(e) White-tailed


Question #6:

Consider the birds which include the color blue in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(a) Blue-throated

(b) Blue-tailed

(c) Blue-headed

(d) Blue-breasted

(e) Blue-winged


Question #7:

Which gemstone occurs most frequently in bird names?

(a) Emerald

(b) Sapphire

(c) Ruby

(d) Amethyst

(e) Garnet


Question #8:

All but one of these gemstones appear in at least one bird name. Which one never appears?

(a) Beryl

(b) Tourmaline

(c) Malachite

(d) Jade

(e) Diamond


Question #9:

Which is more common: Scarlet or Crimson?


Question #10:

Order the following in terms of most common to least common: Rust(y), Ruddy, and Rufous.


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Answers:

#1: Which color most commonly shows up in bird names?

The most common color in a bird name is…. white. (The picture up top is of a Whitehead’s Broadbill, and no, I do not count that as a “white bird.”)

#2: About how many species include this most common color?

(e) 698. If you include all names with “White” or “white” you will find 706, but we need to remove the following eight because they are not describing a color, but either a call (“Bobwhite”) or the proper name of the person for which they are named:

Northern Bobwhite, Black-throated Bobwhite, Crested Bob.white, Whitehead’s Swiftlet, Whitehead’s Trogon, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, White’s Thrush.

Interestingly, of the 698 birds with white in their name, only 13 are “pure” white, that is, of the form “White X”… and they are:

White Eared-Pheasant, White Tern, White Stork, American White Pelican, Great White Pelican, White Ibis, White Hawk, White Woodpecker, White Cockatoo, White Bellbird, White Monjita, White Helmetshrike, White Wagtail

For all of the 685 others, the term “white” describes some feature, such as “white-browed” or “white-throated,” etc.

#3: Each of the these colors appear in at least one bird name. But which one occurs just once?

(c) Salmon occurs just once, with the Salmon-crested Cockatoo. There are four cerulean birds, three vermilions, and two viridians.

#4: Consider the birds which include the color black in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(b) Black-headed, of which there are 45.

#5: Consider the birds which include the color white in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(d) White-eye(d), and it isn’t even close! There are 120 such birds.

#6: Consider the birds which include the color blue in their name. Which of the choices below is the most common?

(e) Blue-winged, of which there are 13.

Here is my list of the ten most common colors:

White 698
Black 640
Red 347
Yellow 338
Gray 277 (Note: 279 birds include the word Gray, but there are two birds named after a person Gray)
Rufous 249
Green 245
Blue 235
Gold 144
Orange 68

#7: Which gemstone occurs most frequently in bird names?

(a) Emerald. The five most common gemstones in bird names are:

Emerald 38
Sapphire 14
Pearl 11
Ruby 11
Turquoise 10

#8: All but one of these gemstones appear in at least one bird name. Which one never appears?

(d) There is not one bird name referencing “Jade.”

#9: Which is more common: Scarlet or Crimson?

Crimson. There are 40 Crimson names and 34 Scarlets.

#10: Order the following in terms of most common to least common: Rust(y), Ruddy, and Rufous.

Rufous (249), Rust / Rusty (51), Ruddy (19)


 

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