From Birding Central, Kenn writes: Back when "publishing" always involved ink and paper, a Photo Quiz was popular in various bird magazines. A challenging photo (or two or three) would be presented in one issue of the magazine, with the answer(s) to be revealed in the next issue. Birders would study the photos and their field guides, discuss the quiz with their pals, then wait a month or two or three for the next issue to see if they’d gotten the answer right.Today, in the age of online publishing, photo quizzes are legion. There are literally dozens of "mystery bird" photos posted every week on websites and blogs. Followers of these quizzes wait only days for the answers, not weeks or months. Other things have changed as well: birders researching a tricky photo today are more likely to look for pictures on the internet, and a fair percentage of those online photos will be misidentified or mislabelled. And when the online quiz posts its answer, there’s a chance that the answer will be wrong. So there’s a new kind of edgy challenge to the game.
Quizzes in print have a longer history. In the 1970s (when I was a rabid kid birder) we got our photo-quiz fix by looking at British Birds, a fine monthly that was then publishing more on identification than all the North American periodicals put together. A few of us crazed American and Canadian birders pored over every issue of British Birds, tried to work out the photo quiz, and then eagerly read the detailed answer to the previous month’s quiz. It was such an educational feature that we wondered why North American bird journals didn’t follow suit. But not until 1980 did Birding, the magazine of the American Birding Association, begin to run a regular photo quiz feature (a feature that continues today, by the way). I have warm feelings about the Birding photo quiz because I was in charge of it, writing the answers for almost every issue, for ten years, starting in the mid-1980s. But that wasn’t my first experience with writing photo quiz answers.
We’re not going to add one more online mystery photo to this week’s crop. Instead, we have a different kind of challenge, one that will test your knowledge of photography, publications, and the history of the birding community.
Here’s the question: What was the first publication in North America to run a regular bird photo identification quiz?
If you think you know the answer, or if you want to guess, send us a comment. If no one gets it, we’ll post the answer in a week. (Of course, a week from now is the 24th, and the guys will all be out doing their last-minute Christmas shopping, but ... ) The answer is sort of surprising. To entice you to enter, we’ll offer a prize (perhaps an autographed copy of a rare historical birding publication!).