[CT Birds] The oriole in Canaan

Mark Szantyr birddog55 at Charter.net
Thu Apr 3 00:41:40 EDT 2008

To see a small selection of my oriole photos, go to www.surfbirds .com and 
go to the North American Stop Press page.

Mark S.Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road
Apt. 9
Ashford, CT 06278

Birddog55 at Charter.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Clay Taylor" <ctaylor at att.net>
To: "Mark Szantyr" <birddog55 at Charter.net>; <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 12:09 AM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] The oriole in Canaan

> 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 possible.
> 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
>> USA
>> Birddog55 at Charter.net
>> 860-487-9766
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