13 September 2013: trapped Eastern Wood-Pewee and Mourning Warbler

I had two trapped birds at the Noble Research Center this morning, both of which presented identification challenges because they were in good enough shape that I never got to examine them closely.  I first found what turned out to be a wood-pewee (and I’m assuming it’s Eastern) at the northeast alcove and then found a warbler I’ve identified as Mourning at the northwest alcove.  I was able to steer both birds away from the building so I am hoping that I won’t find them dead there tomorrow morning.

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Here’s the wood-pewee.  When I first came upon it, it was sitting on the ground, its long, low shape and attenuated bill had me momentarily thinking it was a swallow.  As I approached (within just a few feet) it was clear that I actually had a flycatcher, but it wasn’t until it flushed to perch on a nearby railing that I figured out that it wasn’t an Eastern Phoebe.

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This bird was intermediate in size between a phoebe and and Empidonax flycatcher.  It lacked the white throat of an Eastern Phoebe, it showed a bi-colored bill, and it did not wag its tail.  Relative to Empidonax flycatchers, this bird was larger and lankier, with a long primary projection, little to no greenish cast on the upperparts, no obvious eyering, and a dusky grayish vest.  All signs point to it being a wood-pewee, and I can only assume it’s Eastern as I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from an extralimital Western in a photograph.  The buffy wingbars suggest a hatch-year bird. This is the first wood-pewee on the project, and here’s where Easterns have been reported this month:

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The Mourning Warbler on the northwest side of the Noble Research Center was also in good enough condition to fly off on its own, so I was left with my crude photographs to make the identification.  At first blush, the olive-green upperparts, yellow breast and throat, and grayish head suggested Nashville Warbler.  The structure didn’t fit well, however.  The bill wasn’t narrow enough for Nashville, and the pale lower mandible didn’t fit either.  The eye-ring seemed thin, and broken, unlike the bold, complete eyering on a Nashville.  The feet were big and pale, as opposed to a Nashville’s small, blackish feet.  The yellow throat pegged the bird as hatch-year, but I’m reluctant to call the sex.

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