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RTPI’s avian archives

Posted on May 21, 2014

RTPI’s extensive archives hold a massive collection of bird study skins. This includes several extinct species as well like the Passenger Pigeon, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet, and Bachman’s Warbler. I looked through hundreds of warblers yesterday while I was answering a couple of questions for myself after the busy last few weeks of spring migration. I was struck by this size differential – Prothonotary Warbler vs. Wilson’s Warbler.

Prothonotary Warbler Wilson's Warbler

We “know” their respective sizes but…geez! The Wilson’s Warbler on the right with the black cap looks about half the size of the suddenly bulky Prothonotary Warbler. I have certainly never seen these two species together in the field. My experience with Prothonotary Warblers is much less than that of Wilson’s being from Connecticut but I think the live Prothonotary’s magnificent glowing feathers must have distracted my memories from their stature. Here’s hoping I can get another look or two at a Wilson’s Warbler as northbound migration winds down and that we can dig up a Prothonotary somewhere in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region in the next few weeks.

Speaking of size there were also multiple Yellow-breasted Chats in the same drawer but that’s a beast for another day.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator