Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mac-G, or not Mac-G: That is the question!

Well, in addition to the MacGillivray's Warbler that has been reported in the Chicago area, there has also been a report of a flock of (possible) Long-Billed Curlews, and of a Kirtland's Warbler. Up to this point, only the Kirtland's (seen at Gilson Park in Wilmette) has been photographically documented. (Anyone want to guess where the loyal BINAC staff will be tomorrow?)

So, are all of these birds legit, or not? The person who originally reported the "curlews" was not really even sure that they were LBCs (as opposed to Whimbrels) so that sighting is probably not going to be accepted by IORC, if it is even documented by the observers at all.

The Mac-G is a bit of a tougher question. It was seen by a few people on the "second day," but already I have heard some grumblings that a Mac-G cannot be safely identified in the field. I suspect that the IORC (Illinois Ornithological Records Committee) will have some healthy skepticism about this bird. There is one prior (very old) specimen record, so I think that the IORC may treat this as a first-state record, and will want to see a photo or sound recording.

The problem is that some Mourning Warblers (even adult males) can have at least faint eye-ring "arcs." I've been saying this for years, and people tell me I'm crazy, but it's Dunn and Garrett. D&G also states that some adult Mourning Warblers can have what appear to be black lores. So, even though the description of this bird strongly suggests Mac-G Warbler, I'm not sure you can totally exclude Mourning Warbler.

Hmmm, we'll see.


Bill Pulliam said...

"So, even though the description of this bird strongly suggests Mac-G Warbler, I'm not sure you can totally exclude Mourning Warbler."

Unless it were to sing, that is...

Down here with no lakeshore pileups and lots of cover, spring Oporonis are found almost entirely by hearing them first. Hence the ID is pretty much in hand before the bird is seen, which is a big help, dontcha know? If they're singing here, they durn well oughta be singing there too it'd seem.

Anonymous said...


How many Spring Mournings have you seen and said " Gee that looks a lot like a MacGillivray's, doesn't it"

Me? Never.

All my Mournings look just like Mournings.

Even with a hangover.


Anonymous said...

The bird I saw had substantial white eye arcs, like the Kirtland's Warbler photographed the next day, not a faint thin eye ring as described by Sibley and in the NG Birds of N. America. I know the IORC isn't going to accept this record, but I am not concerned about that. If measurements taken from a mist netted bird is the only definitive way to seperate MacGillivray's from Mourning, as some have suggested, its going to be a very long time before a 2nd official record is made.

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

I must sincerely apologize for this post. I was sick when I wrote it, and was not in a good frame of mind.

I went to see my primary physician today, Dr. R.T. Peterson, and he diagnosed me as having a severe case of nomlenvy. That's "Not On My List Envy."

I have been stricken with nomlenvy several times before. The first was when I was in Argentina for several weeks and a large number of observers misidentified a bird that was likely a lingering Blackburnian Warbler as a Hermit Warbler.

The second time was when I was in Australia and a bird in the Palos area, again seen by many observers, was misidentified as a juvenile Wood Stork. In fact, it is my understanding that the bird was in reality either a calico Little Blue Heron, or a Black-crowned Night Heron with a deformed bill.

I forgot to take my nomlenvy medication today, and I have had several people tell me that the photos of the alleged Kirtland's Warbler at Gilson (I have refused to even look at the photos, out of spite) is actually just a Magnolia Warbler that is slightly oiled.

Now, about that woodpecker in Arkansas...

Anonymous said...

In my experience out west in Albuquerque New Mexico MacGillivray's and a few others (Wilson's, Orange-crowned & Northern Waterthrush) just don't sing very much or at all while moving through to parts north.

In contrast Audubon's, Black-throated Gray, Virginia's and Yellow Warblers frequently sing as they move north through the riparian forest along the Rio Grande.

I heard a waterthrush sing one spring day in Albuquerque and it knocked my socks off - what the hell is that!? These birds were typically silent anytime I encountered them - definitely not usual for that area. I've only ever heard call notes from migrating MacGillivray's. The first time I learned their song was up north in the high mountains where they breed.

Of course different populations (and vagrants) may behave otherwise.

Mike R.