About Birding Quiz

Hi - I'm Jim Gray. I live in the town of Petaluma, which is in Sonoma county, California. I have been birding for 3 years now, and it has become a bit of an obsession for me. In my professional career I have been an electronic design engineer, software design engineer, and a technology program manager. I am transitioning to a new career as an independent web developer, and Birding Quiz is one of my personal projects.

Why did I create Birding Quiz?

When I first started birding I couldn't tell an American Crow from a Common Raven, a Turkey Vulture from a Red-tailed Hawk, or a Mallard from a Gadwall. To help me learn the local birds I, decided to make a set of online flash cards for common birds in Sonoma county. The flash cards were very helpful, but I was only learning how to recognize one variation of a bird. For instance I learned how to recognize an adult male Common Loon in breeding plumange, but Common Loons aren't in breeding plumage most of the year, somewhere around half are female, many are juveniles, sometimes they are molting their feathers, and there is a lot of individual variation. I tried to create flash cards for all of the variations, but this quickly became tedious. What I needed was a way to generate random pictures for a bird species. so that I would be exposed to as many of the variations as possible. I decided to make a website that makes a visual quiz with random photos of birds.

What is Birding Quiz?

Birding Quiz is a website that creates a visual quiz that uses random photos for the birds in a list of birds. The order of the birds in the quiz is also randomized, so that the user cannot guess the bird name from the order that the birds are displayed in. For any given bird the user might see a male or female, adult or juvenile, different seasonal plumages, different sub-species, different views (front, back, side, underneath, etc). Birding Quiz uses curated photos from the Flickr group Field Guide:Birds of the World. The photos in the group are reviewed to make sure they are the correct species. One of the guidelines for the photos is that they have sufficient details such that they can be used to identify the bird. There are many photos for most species, which means you will usually be seeing a different photo each time you take a quiz. You probably noticed that the bird lists are only available for a few geographic areas. I will be gradually adding more areas, but if you want to have a bird list for a location that you are interested in, just send me a message.

Usage Suggestions

If you are new to bird identification start with the short lists and work your way up to the longer lists. Because there is a lot of variation in the photos it can be challenging to identify the bird. I like to take the quiz with my "Birds of North America" book open so I can make a guess and then compare the pictures and info in the book to the quiz photo. I recommend using some supplementary aid such as a book, website, or a foldout for the birds in your area.

I would love to hear from you

I would love to hear any comments about new feature ideas, desired bird lists, bugs, site aesthetics suggestions (I know I need a lot of advice here), or anything else that suits your fancy. My contact page is here.

What tools did you use to build Birding Quiz?

I used the Django website framework, Python scripting, Bootstrap CSS framework, NGINX webserver, and Gunicorn gateway server. The website is hosted on Digital Ocean.