April 2024

Vol. 52, No. 2

At a Glance: February 2024 Revealed

Wayne R. Petersen

At a Glance: February 2024 Revealed

This issue’s mystery bird sports almost clownlike attributes that include what looks like a black face mask, oversized feet, pea green “socks,” and a broad, gray tail with white outer feathers. Even the most inexperienced observer likely will be struck by the bird’s preposterous-looking, light-colored feet. It is obvious that the feet do not resemble those of perching birds. The toes are not thin and straight as on most songbirds, or strongly curved and heavily clawed like those of birds of prey, or arranged with two toes facing forward and two facing backward like those of most woodpeckers. More important, the three most obvious toes have fleshy projections on each side, and the toes are not connected to one another. In other words, the toes are not webbed and interconnected like those of a duck or a gull. Nonetheless, it would seem logical that feet like these would be used for propulsion through the water—aka swimming.

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