Quiz #42 - Answer
by Brian Booth
|The mystery animal is QUAIL. (In this case, it was
Gambelís Quail. They were scurrying all around the wash.)|
to figure this out is to first identify that the animal has 3 toes
registering in the tracks, which means it is a bird.
The absence of a
rear toe (hallux) rules out birds with a prominent hallux such as raven,
cactus wren and roadrunner (although in finer substrate than the
gravelly dust seen here, the hallux of a quail can be seen pretty well).
The narrow trail width is characteristic of a game bird, such as a
quail, chukar, bobwhite, grouse, prairie chicken or pheasant. (Itís also
characteristic of shore birds such as sandpiper, but you can obviously
rule that out by the habitat.)
The small track size of 1Ĺ inch x
1Ĺ inch rules out prairie chicken or pheasant. If you check a map of
Arizona showing the location of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and
a bird field guide, you can rule out chukar, bobwhite and grouse, as
they donít inhabit the Sonoran Desert. Additionally, the large number of
tracks suggests that this was a gregarious bird, matching the quailís
tendency to travel together in large coveys.
represented a challenge for folks not familiar with the desert Ė if so,
hopefully you are one step more familiar now. It was also extra
challenging because of the tracks in the dry gravel didnít show much
definition, obscured the hallux, and the way the gravel collapses around
the edges, it makes the toes look thicker than they really are.
While this may look like a simple quiz, the tracking itself on this day
was not easy. The habitat and substrate presented a very challenging
quest to me to find any tracks Ė I had to bushwack a great distance to
find this patch of gravel that revealed the tracks, and had I not rose
at dawn to go hiking amidst the long shadows of early morning light, I
might not have been able to see the tracks at all.
it was a magnificent venture to a remote and special area, one of the
continentís best-preserved areas of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. I hope
to visit again soon.
Iíll leave you with a sunset photo from my
camp on my last evening at Organ Pipe. What a spot.
|Till next time,|
Quiz #42 - Question ...on to
(All photos on this page are Copyright © by Brian Booth
or Walter Muma unless indicated otherwise)
To send comments, questions or feedback about these quizzes,