Oldest Kentucky Warbler Ever

Posted by Russ Greenberg on June 29, 2009

Vicki McDonald found (and captured and photographed) a male Kentucky warbler that tied for the oldest known Kentucky warbler. The previous record was also one of hers, from about 12 years ago. He's at least 7 years old.

Vicki banded him as an adult in 2003 about 400 meters from where he was re-caught on June 28, 2009. He's been back every year in between, too, but this is the first time she's re-caught him.

His nest was preyed upon the night prior to his being caught and photographed on Sunday morning. 2 of his fledglings left the nest while the other 2 presumably got eaten. On Sunday morning Vicki found both of the fledgies and caught and banded them (the pic was taken of the first before banding), and then caught dad.

He was/is a very protective father, nearly attacking Vicki as she hunted down his kids. All of this sounds like cutesy fun, but it's not always—it took nearly 3 hours to figure out the situation and find and catch the kids, and then dad, and involved literally crawling on hands and knees through blackberry brambles, but that's what Vicki does in order to get her data.

The mother was most likely killed on the nest, due to feathers around it and her not having seen her at all in the subsequent days. Thus, he is a single dad, working hard to care for his 2 fledgies. Due to the predation event, they had force-fledged 1 day early, and the second (not the pictured one) was what one could call "premature," yet he has survived through yesterday evening. (We haven't checked the nest/fledging area today; we try to minimize disturbance.) So the old dad is not only single, but also attempting to raise a "handicapped" kid.

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