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Warblers Lost at Sea

Leonard H. Day
1 (January-February)
From Field and Study
Online Text

Warblers Lost at Sea.-On a trip from San Pedro, California, to Catalina Island in a small sailing boat on May 12, 1949, five or six Pileolated Warblers (Wilsonia pusillu) and one male Townsend Warbler (Dendroica tomnsendi) sought rest on the boat, and two of the first species also were seen dead on the water. There was a high overcast sky and visibility was about 6 miles.

The distance from Catalina to the mainland is about 18 miles. The first warblers were seen on our way to the island, approximately 6 miles from the mainland, at about 7:30 a.m. They were nearly exhausted but were apparently afraid of the vibration in the rigging caused by the auxiliary motor. They would remain only for a minute or two and then would try to continue on but would soon return, more exhausted than before. One of them was fmally unable to rise high enough to reach the de& and fell into the water. This bird was rescued with a net but died in about an hour. When the motor was stopped, the birds remained for sometime hunting for insects among the rigging; but when the motor was started again they flew away and did not return.

The following day, on the return trip, a female Pileolated Warbler came aboard at about 7:30 a.m. when 5 or 6 miles away from the island; the island was still visible at the time. This bird seemed almost completely exhausted and soon found a resting place on a coil of rope on deck; :he immediately tucked her head under her feathers and slept for some minutes. She then woke with a start and flew a few hundred feet, but returned, barely able to rise high enough to alight on the deck. After repeating this same performance several times she finally was unable to make the deck, and fell into the water. She was rescued and was content to rest in the warmth of my hands where she soon fell asleep. She died before we could liberate her on Shore.-LEONARD H. DAY, College of Agriculture, Davis, California, June 1, 1949

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