Union Square is a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live in subway terms. So naturally, when I heard about the Scott’s Oriole there, I hopped, skipped, and jumped (after cursing that it didn’t get posted to the mailing list a day earlier, since I went for groceries at the farmer’s market after my Prospect Park walk and knowing that the Oriole was there would have changed it from a merely very lucky day to an absurdly lucky day.)
To be honest, it was almost too easy. I got off the L train at Union Square, went up the stairs, oh look, there’s a crowd of people with scopes and big-ass cameras. Walked a few yards over to join them and the bird is sitting on the ground with a couple of pigeons and sparrows. Eventually it flew up into the shrubbery, where it posed obligingly. It didn’t feed while I was watching, yawned once, and spent some time with its eyes closed – I hope that it remains in good health despite the cold snap and the mass of observers (I suppose if it’s been in the park since December it must already be somewhat used to crowds.) got some photos, which I will post soon.
Field marks – well, it’s sure as shit an oriole, primarily lemon-lime across the bulk of the body with grayish wings (two white wing bars) and back and a black bib and mask the extends to the eye. The top of the head was obviously in transition, with a scaly combination of black, grayish, and greenish feathers. The size controversy – well, the bird didn’t have the good grace to sit next to a starling for a length comparison while I was there, but it seemed slighter that the nearby starlings to my eye. Of course this is rather subjective since different birds may be fluffed up to different degrees, particularly in weather like this. The bill, black with blue-gray at the base, was very very slightly decurved.
Of course, I can’t really really really count this little guy until NYSARC gives the all-clear, declaring it both a Scott’s Oriole and not an escapee from captivity. But given how well-documented this bird is, and the known vagabond nature of the species in question, I have high hopes that this will be bird number 246 for my life list and the first NYS first record I’ve participated, in however small a capacity, in.
Scott’s Oriole Icterus parisorum *LL
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
House Sparrow Passer domesticus