May the Fourth Celebration

A year ago, I posted the eighth in a series of ‘quarantine quizzes’ as a way to entertain both you and me during a difficult time. This year, many of us are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the vaccine is accessible to just about anyone who wants it in the United States. We still have a lot of work to do, including making the vaccine more available in all countries and convincing skeptics to get vaccinated, but May 2021 sure feels like a more optimistic time than May 2020. In celebration, here is a quiz that has nothing to do with quarantine (or any particular series of space-based movies). It’s just for fun. Enjoy.

Also, if you’re interested, I recorded a podcast episode on Michael Hawk’s ‘Nature’s Archive’ Podcast and it was released this week. You can listen to that episode at this link or by finding it through whatever app you use to listen to podcasts. The episode covers a lot of ground, from prairie ecology and management to the need to engage the public in conservation.


Question 1 – What is the creature shown in the photo above? Hints: it is native to Nebraska and the dark splotch beneath its chin is a helpful identification mark.

A. Red-winged blackbird

B. Black-winged redbird

C. Woodhouse’s toad

D. Abbey Toad

E. Enigma Toad

F. Depeche Toad

G. Simon Cowell


Question 2 – For the moment, assume the creature in question 1 is a Woodhouse’s toad. Which of the following is the best description of its call? (Listen to the call by clicking on the link to the right of the photo on this website.)

A. It’s like a grasshopper sparrow call played at half speed

B. It sounds like a very old and cantankerous man with a gravelly voice exasperatedly trying to mimic the ‘incessant’ crying sounds of the infant child in the apartment next to him as he complains bitterly about said crying to a cab driver who desperately regrets asking the man how his day was going.

C. Hi, this is A again. I want to retract my answer and change it to B.

D. I have nothing to add here. It’s clearly B.


Question 3. We found this snake hiding under a log after a prescribed burn this spring at the Platte River Prairies. What kind of snake is it?

A. Plains garter snake

B. Red-sided garter snake (in winter plumage)

C. Lined snake

D. Spotted snake

E. Simon Cowell


Question 4. For the moment, assume the creature in Question 3 is a lined snake. Is ‘lined snake’ a helpful and descriptive name or a useless and frustrating name since there are lots of other snakes with ‘lines’ on them?

A. Yes

B. No


Question 5. Is this (above) a honey bee?

A. No. It is a long-horned bee (Melissodes agilis)


Question 6. Is this (above) a honey bee?

A. No. It is a different long-horned bee (Melissodes trinodis)


Question 7. Is this (above) a honey bee?

A. No. It is a sunflower bee (Svastra obliqua).


Question 8. Is this (above) a honey bee?

A. No. it is a Halictid bee, probably Halictus ligatus.


Question 9. Is this (above) a honey bee?

A. No. It is a sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens). You’re not even trying now.


Question 10. Gosh, it seems like there are a lot of bees out there besides honey bees. Why do so many people think only about honey bees when they hear about the pollinator crisis and not the 4,000-5,000 bee species that are actually native to North America? Not to mention all the butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, and other creatures who are important pollinators and suffering from the same habitat losses? Plus, honey bees have a strong support system in that humans raise and care for them directly, basically ensuring they’ll not go extinct, right?

A. Yes

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

12 thoughts on “May the Fourth Celebration

  1. This was excellent!

    Allie Rath | Senior Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist Covering Benton, Buchanan, Linn, and Tama Counties Pheasants Forever, Inc. and NRCS USDA Service Center 1705 W D St. Vinton, IA 52349 o. (319) 472-2161 | c. (319) 330-6015 |

    ~While the Benton, Buchanan, Linn, and Tama County Service Centers are currently closed to visitors because of the pandemic, we continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Contact us at the information below to make an appointment. Please visit for the latest information on Service Center status.~


  2. I can identify native forbs and some grasses. I can’t identify warblers nor most bees. But I love watching them all in the garden. Loved your quiz .

  3. Abbey Toad cracked me up — toadally. As for the snake, it can’t be Simon Cowell, because it’s not in the grass. I think those green-eyed bees are gorgeous, and there’s even a song that’s perfect for the females.

  4. It is good to see the continuation of working in the spirit of Aldo Leopold:

    “The evolution of a land ethic is an intellectual as well as emotional process. Conservation is paved with good intentions which prove to be futile, or even dangerous, because they are devoid of critical understanding either of the land,
    or of economic land-use. I think it is a truism that as the ethical frontier advances from the individual to the community, its intellectual content increases.”

  5. Hi Chris,

    The toad screeches kept me awake many a summer night. I was never able to figure out what was making that noise, so I just called it ‘the swamp thing.’ Thanks for solving that mystery!

    BTW, I finally got my Word Press site launched, but it still needs some work…


  6. Self assessment: I got a good mark at this quizz, but due in part to the single-choice-questions, an interesting innovation to test students in all fields! I also had the good guess on Q1, just because everything else seemed too bizarre… and B was so obvious for Q2.
    Thanks for the fun moment and for the pictures of non-honey bees, there are gorgeous and just as useful in their own way!


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