[CT Birds] The oriole in Canaan

Clay Taylor ctaylor at att.net
Thu Apr 3 00:09:35 EDT 2008

Mark -

Well done!   This is where we all can make contributions to avian 
knowledge - be on the lookout for the "weird stuff", and document it however 

On the subject of DNA, if the oriole is observed to shed a feather while in 
the yard, would analysis of its DNA be enough of a marker to further define 
this bird?   In other words, are Bullock's and Baltimore separated enough to 
determine an intergrade?

 The Junkin Warbler from NY had its DNA analyzed from a feather collected 
after the bird was caught in a mist net, and the bird's parentage was 
determined by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Clay Taylor
Moodus, CT
ctaylor at att.net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark Szantyr" <birddog55 at Charter.net>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 11:45 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] The oriole in Canaan

>I want to begin by saying that the homeowners are incredibly wonderful in
> how they have allowed access to this great bird and how hospitable they 
> have
> been to us all.
> Oriole identification is tricky, especially in sub-adult plumage.  I saw
> this bird, my third Bullock's type in CT, on Sunday and was able to get 
> some
> excellent images.  Tom Sayers was there with me and asked what I thought. 
> I
> said that it looks pretty much like a Bullock's Oriole but seemed more
> orange than the other young male I have seen.  Upon getting home, I 
> checked
> my photos and notes against all the literature I had and against images on
> the web as well as against the images I had of previous Bullock's from CT.
> A few characters stuck out as unusual to me.  Confused, I defaulted to my
> standard method of ID, that  is, begin with the age and sex.  The bird
> appeared to be a male due to the black throat and the great amount of 
> white
> in the wing.  How old was it?  This was harder.  It looked like the bird
> showed features of an adult male ( the amount of white in the wing) and
> features of a second year male ( everything else).  I checked on molt 
> timing
> of this species and Baltimore Oriole and found a few characters that 
> seemed
> consistent with each of the two separate molt calendars. Hmmmm!  I noted a
> few characters that seemed inconsistent with identification as Bullock's:
> the lack of a dark post occular stripe, the extensive and rather even 
> orange
> coloration, the seemingly excessive orange to the mantle, the more
> well-marked mantle, the appearance of orange feathering in the lesser
> coverts ( a Baltimore Oriole character).  confused, I sent the images to a
> few West Coast birders who surely had more experience with this species 
> than
> I did.  Most of them said that it looked abnormal for Bullock's Oriole to
> them and suggested it might be a hybrid with Baltimore Oriole.  Two 
> thought
> that it was extensively orange but maybe in the range of Bullock's.  Peter
> Pyle said that while more orange than normal, it was likely ok for
> Bullock's.
> So what am I saying?   I guess I am saying that this is a very interesting
> bird.  Several characters suggest to several knowledgeable birders that 
> this
> may be a hybrid Baltimore X Bullock's but even the experts have limited
> experience with this.  All the literature on this topic deals with adult
> plumaged birds.  If a hybrid, it is likely a second or greater generation
> hybrid because the Bullock's characters are so strong.  It is critical 
> that
> all observers record their notes on this bird so that we have all the data
> we can muster for our continued study.  There is so little known about
> hybrid Bullock's X Baltimore in this plumage that anything we can add is
> earth-shaking.
> Is it a hybrid?  Only DNA and an act of God will tell us for sure.  I am
> waiting for more reviews from western birders and will keep you posted as 
> it
> comes in.
> This is not a typical second - year male Bullock's Oriole.  Can you count 
> it
> as one?  I guess that is up to you and your list.  If a hybrid, it would 
> be
> much more interesting in the big picture.
> Mark
> Mark S.Szantyr
> 80 Bicknell Road
> Apt. 9
> Ashford, CT 06278
> Birddog55 at Charter.net
> 860-487-9766
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