Can You Name All of These Winged Animals?

Zoe Samuel

Image: KenCanning/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Evolution has been a multimillion-year process so far, and it's still happening today. That means that as environments change, all sorts of mutations could produce creatures that are slightly more highly adapted to a given set of circumstances than their predecessors. The result is speciation, or the development of new species. Given enough time and selective pressure, these creatures can become as different to one another as a virus is to a Chihuahua is to a dolphin.

Keeping track of all the different species thus requires substantial categorization, a discipline known as taxonomy. Winged animals appear as a class within several different branches of the evolutionary tree. There are winged insects, a few winged mammals, and of course, plenty of winged birds. Some of these are eminently recognizable and indeed, sadly unavoidable (mosquitoes, anyone?) while others are rare and special. Some use their wings to fly, while others use them primarily as a form of decoration or just to glide.

How well do you know this well-populated category of living thing? Do you know your birds from your bees and your fliers from your gliders? Take this quiz to see if you can name some of nature's most bizarre, wonderful and sometimes obscure creations!

What is this flightless bird that is native to New Zealand?

The kiwi is the national symbol of Australia and is an adorable flightless bird, too heavy to fly thanks to its bone marrow. They are about the size of a chicken and are nocturnal, so if you see one during the day, enjoy it! Look out for the bristly small wings.

Can you name this graceful wading bird that lives in Europe and Asia?

These beautiful wading birds are found all over the world in lowland areas with some species in the tropics and others in alpine zones. They have longer legs as they are a wading bird, and are sociable creatures that like to nest in a "heronry" with other birds if they can. Some of these contain hundreds of nests!

What is this adorable Antarctic bird that has wings but cannot fly?

These charming birds live in enormous colonies in Antarctica, where they mate and raise a single chick annually, with each half of the penguin couple doing their part. The colonies fend off the cold by standing in large groups for warmth, with each bird enjoying a warmer period in the middle, and doing their time as one of the birds on the outside of the circle!

What is this huge and squeaky flying mammal?

The megabat is so named because it refers to a number of large bat species, most of them fruitbats. They like to feed in a group and are typically located in a tropical area. They are nocturnal and have great eyesight and echolocation to help them get around in the dark.

This is the world's fastest bird. What is it?

The dive of the peregrine falcon is truly dazzling, clocking in at over 200 miles an hour! They live all over the world except in Antarctica and are incredibly effective predators. They eat rodents and small songbirds, and even heftier birds like doves and pigeons!

This bird holds the record for the longest continuous flight. Can you name it?

Swifts are mostly dark brown, and are often mistaken for swallows as both have the characteristic forked tail. Swifts live in Africa in the winter and Europe in the summer, and they can fly incredible distances without ever touching down. They can even sleep in flight!

What is this charming bird with a luminous streak, whose mating dance delighted the internet?

This bird only grows up to just over six inches. The females are brown, but the males have a beautiful iridescent color. There are a variety of types of paradise birds, with some being black and blue, while others are red and white. Their mating dance is truly a delight to behold.

Can you name this bird that is native to famous islands off the west coast of South America?

Most cormorant species fly very well, but the flightless cormorant is unique among its kind. It lives in the Galapagos Islands, which is a haven for all sorts of species that are quite unlike anything found elsewhere. It is highly endangered and there is an effort to protect it.

What is this beautiful iridescent four-winged insect?

These ancient creatures are an evolutionary success story, as they have been with us since the time of the dinosaurs—though they were much larger then, at two feet, compared to their modern descendants that clock in around a couple of inches across. It is considered good luck if one lands on your head. They have an incredible ability to fly, including flawless hovering and vertical flight.

What is this arboreal gliding mammal endemic to Southeast Asia?

These creatures are called "flying lemurs" though they are not, in fact, a lemur! They hail from Southeast Asia and can grow up to 16" long. They don't technically fly, but instead glide over 200 feet!

What is this bird that is commonly hunted in the fall and winter?

The pheasant is actually native to China, but it has been brought to all sorts of other places and is now a very successful bird thanks to being delicious enough that people breed them specifically to hunt. Pheasants are hunted from October to January. Most of them are common ring-necked pheasants, but there are some other varieties like melanistic blue pheasants and a rather stunning golden species.

This elegant bird comes from the UK, but migrates to Kythera. Can you name it?

These birds got their name from the sound they make, a sort of sort "poe-poe-poe" call. They like to be in warmer climates and nest around the Mediterranean, especially in Spain. They eat large insects and love to forage in manure to eat the beetles.

What is this winged creature of the sea?

These fish honestly seem Photoshopped, but they really look like this! There are more than 40 species of flying fish that mostly live in tropical regions. Typically they do not grow longer than 18 inches, but they can spend up to 45 seconds flying above the water, and if they hit a good wave and an updraft they can cover nearly 500 yards!

These much-maligned predators are carrion birds. What are they?

Vultures are a successful bird as they live everywhere but Australia and Antarctica. They are unusual for raptors as they live in flocks, where a group of them is known as a kettle when in flight, and a wake when feeding. They like to find carrion but they will attack a wounded animal if they get the chance.

Can you identify this charming reptile?

These lizards can flatten their legs to help reduce wind resistance, and use their tail to control their direction. They are not true fliers as they can only glide. They are found all over Southeast Asia, with localized species evolving in a number of countries.

What domestic-sounding name does this silent bird of prey enjoy?

These birds eat small rodents like voles and mice that they swallow whole and then cough up the indigestible parts later in a sort of pellet. They like to live in tree hollows but these days if you live in a rural area, a good nesting box may well entice a barn owl to see your home as a promising up-and-coming neighborhood. They make great neighbors, as they will keep your rat population under control.

Can you name this intelligent talking bird?

These incredible birds can live for 50 years and learn all sorts of words. They have a distinctive red tail but are otherwise a pretty pale gray. They are not good pets unless you have plenty of time and energy to dedicate to educating and entertaining them, as they will get depressed if not stimulated.

What is this adorable marsupial with wings?

These palm-sized possums can glide well over 150 feet. They are marsupials, meaning that they have a pouch like a kangaroo. They come from Australia and can live nearly 10 years in the wild.

What is this bird whose name belies its gorgeous lace 'do?

These pigeons can be the best part of a meter high. They live on the ground and eat seeds and insects, as well as fallen fruit. They have a beautiful lacey headdress and hail from New Guinea.

What is this very common duck that has a rather unfortunate name?

These birds can be found all over the place depending on which species of shoveler they are. They possess a long spoon-shaped bill and a flat head, and most of us wouldn't give them a second look as they seem to be ordinary ducks. They are harmless creatures that live in wetland and marshy areas.

What is this winged rodent?

Found in Asia, some flying squirrels can glow at night, and are mostly nocturnal. These gliders cannot fly properly but they can travel up to 300 feet in a single glide! Their "wing" is a membrane that stretches out between their limbs, making them aerodynamic.

This bug looks terrifying, but it isn't as bad as it looks. What is it?

This bug does not actually sting like a scorpion, but it certainly "dresses" like one! They have two pairs of wings but fly in a rather erratic way, as though they are having trouble coordinating them. They have a beak-like mouth they use to bite, so the "sting" is not the part to worry about.

What is this enormous and beautiful nighttime flier?

This huge moth can have a wingspan that is just shy of a foot in size! The Hercules moth and white witch moths can be even larger. The Atlas moth has more wing area, though, making it a better flier. It lives in wooded areas in Asia.

This creature is very famous for what the female does to the male after they mate. Can you identify it?

The praying mantis is not really praying, but its legs are folded up in a way that makes it look like it is. The species has evolved to camouflage beautifully in its habitat. Both sexes have wings in this species, but only the males can fly.

What is this insect that is unique for having wings on its head?

There are 2,500 species of treehopper, which is also known as a thorn bug for very obvious aesthetic reasons. These bugs make a little hole in tree bark and suck up the sap they find inside. They are endemic in tropical forests, where their unique thorny appearance is great camouflage

What is this reptile also known as chrysopelea?

These snakes don't really fly, but this is small comfort to those who fear the idea of a snake tearing through the trees at them. Some of these creatures can go over a hundred yards on a single glide! They jump between trees to avoid predators. They don't really have wings, but they have the ability to fan their ribs and turn their whole body into a sort of wing, so we've included them on a technicality!

What is this small Scottish bird that flies very fast?

The grouse is the creme de la creme of birds to hunt, as it flies very quickly and has a short season. They also only live 2-3 years and are small and well-camouflaged against their moorland habitat. Shooting a grouse is very difficult, and typically this form of hunting is very expensive and elite.

These cockroaches only use their wings to glide. What is their name?

Unlike some of their flying roach cousins, these roaches can only glide (thank God). They are spreaders of allergens that cause asthma and unfortunately, they can fit in very small spaces and survive a huge range of temperatures. They are a pest and are no good if you find them indoors.

Also known as a bush cricket, what is this leafy-looking bug?

This enormous green bug can be a herbivore or an omnivore depending on which subspecies you look at. It plays music by rubbing its wings together, which is called stridulation, making that distinctive nighttime sound. As well as its splendid leafy camouflage outfit, it is notable for having very large, well, gentlemen's parts.

Can you identify this small but feisty raptor?

The kestrel is a small bird of prey and incredibly fast. It is unlikely to ever be endangered as it can live almost anywhere, and kestrels have been found breeding and living happily on the mainland and islands on Asia, Africa and Europe. It can even make a good life in a town or city where plentiful rodents give it a great diet. Truly, a very smart little hunter!

Who is this Australian bird that looks perpetually worried?

The frogmouth is not a very good flier and has rather weak feet. It doesn't get its name from its concerned expression, however—it is actually just due to the shape of its mouth, as the name implies. The frogmouth eats insects and hails from Australia.

What is the name of this mighty creature that has the largest wingspan of all birds of prey?

The Andean condor is absolutely enormous, the largest bird that can fly and the largest bird of prey that exists. It has a bald head and a white ruff. It weighs up to 30 pounds and its wings span over 10 feet!

Do you remember the name of this soft, tropical winged beetle?

There are an amazing 2,800 beetles that fall into the net-winged beetle category. Their wings are narrower at the base than the tip. Most of them are orange, blue or other bright colors that signify to predators that they are slightly poisonous.

Now sadly extinct, what is the name of this flightless bird?

These sweet birds came from Mauritius, and they were about three feet tall. They were so oblivious of what humans were capable of that they would literally walk up to people and let them pick them up—and then put them in a pot. The dodo has been extinct since 1681.

Can you name this bird with an absolutely delightful beak?

This bird is very much the descendant of its dinosaur ancestors. Sometimes the chicks fight to the death. The shoebill is even worse to other species, using its powerful beak to literally envelop and then decapitate its prey!

By what name is this hilarious bird NOT known?

This bird is known as a hoatzin and is a very smelly bird indeed! It smells like manure thanks to fermented hay, which it eats and then ferments in its tummy. It also has claws on two of its wing digits. Thus, if you don't want to be attacked by a stinking clawed beast, avoid it!

Can you name this endangered moth that is also known as the silkworm moth?

The luna moth (often mistakenly written as "lunar" moth) is quite endangered. It disguises itself as a leaf, but it lives in habitats where this does not always work. They are one of the largest North American moth species.

Can you name this beautiful white nocturnal predator?

Snowy owls are the heaviest of American owl species and can eat quite a lot. Indeed, a hungry owl will munch through five lemmings a day if it can get its talons on them. They have a 52-inch wingspan and like other owls, are silent fliers who hunt at night.

What is this creature that starts life as a caterpillar?

Butterflies use their feet to taste and eat a liquid diet. They start life as a caterpillar then go into a cocoon and emerge, a metaphor that is often used to describe anyone who is a late bloomer. They cannot fly in very cold weather.

This bird is the smallest of all birds! What is it?

The hummingbird's sound comes from the incredible speed with which they can beat their wings. There are several kinds of hummingbird and some can beat up to 5,400 times a minute! They are the only bird that flies backward, and they can exceed 30 mph going forward.

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