Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brewster Co. Golden-winged Warbler

1 Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera

I found a dead male in my backyard today (May 15, 2011). I'm fairly certain that it hit a window and died. I did not see that, however. This seems to be a rather unusual siting. I have the bird in my freezer. I am going to donate it to Sul Ross State University (here in Alpine) to be incorporated into their vertebrate collection....unless, there is a more important suggestion.


The above notes are from an eBird entry by a resident of Alpine, TX. May 15, 2011 is not a typo.

On Monday, April 30 (2012), I was visiting with a professor from Sul Ross and the topic of dead birds came up. Not unusual, perhaps, but the excitement with which the topic was introduced certainly was. A few lovely specimens, mostly roadkill, were discussed - American Kestrel, Say's Phoebe, female Painted Bunting. And one Golden-winged Warbler. By nature, it is required that Eastern warbler ID be treated with skepticism. But, pass the zip-loc, please:

Adult male Golden-winged Warbler. Indeed.

Wow. That is a very Golden-winged Warbler.  And it's really not supposed to be here:


So with great curiosity, and recalling last year's MASSIVE wave of emaciated creatures, I flipped the bird over for further inspection. Window-kill, as it was introduced to me, quickly proved otherwise. Emaciated, the bird was not. In fact, it had so much breast muscle and fat that it qualified as the healthiest dead bird of the last calendar year for this region (from our freezer's perspective). Unfortunately, a broken wing and a mangled leg indicated that if the bird struck a window, it was then finished off by a cat. One indoor/outdoor pet cat was confirmed.

For last year's drought related bird posts, see also:
The drying, the drought
In the meantime, pictures 

One healthy bird that should have made it. Did not. I'm hoping it will go to TAMU, but it will ultimately be up to Sul Ross State University faculty and friends...


  1. I'm quite fond of window kills due to intact bodies... roadkills are iffy but I've had good luck. Cats... cats I've never been particularly enamored with their results, shall we say.

    The strange things we do in the name of science. At least TAMU is getting fresh Brewster Co stuff?