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Quiz #51 - Answer

by Brian Booth

Photo 51G
If you guessed CROW or MAGPIE, you’re basically correct. The mystery animal is a YELLOW-BILLED CHEOUGH (pronounced “chuff”), the high-altitude Himalayan version of the crow.

The way you figure this out is as follows:
a) The tracks have 3 toes pointing forward and one toe pointing aft, so it’s a bird.
b) With tracks just over 2 inches long, the bird is medium-large size.
c) The tracks are asymmetrical - Toe 3 is angled towards Toe 2. The toes also have bulbous lobes (see Toe 2 in Photo 51E, and Toe 1 in Photo 51F). These are indications of the corvid family (ravens, crows, jays, magpies.)
d) The track length of just over 2 inches is about right for a crow or magpie, a bit too small for a raven, and too large for a jay.
Photo 51H

This tracking experience was part of my “bestest”, most awesome outdoor adventure ever, as you can probably guess from Photo 51H.
Nepal is perhaps the most spectacular country in the world, I was fortunate to climb with a great group and trip leader, and the people who inhabit the Himalaya are the strongest, heartiest, most joyous & generous I have ever met.

The cheough is an impressive bird, thriving at extremely high altitude and brutal conditions. I saw cheoghs all the way up to 19,000 feet elevation on this trip, and the higher they traveled, the more active and raucous they behaved.

This was a trip of a lifetime, and was a further example that you can do tracking anywhere you go, no matter how unfamiliar.

Wishing you good tracking adventures this season. The Earth is an awesome place, and the more you explore, the more you will find.

Quiz #51 - Question      ...on to Quiz #52

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