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A Northwestern Robin Reaches California

J. Grinnell
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

A Northwestern Robin Reaches California

Soon after I published my question “Is the Northwestern Robin Migratory?” (Condor, 37, 1935, p. lf3), I received from Mr. G. D. Sprot, of Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island, B. C., a most informative letter, setting forth various angles fn the problem. Briefly, Mr. Sprot’s own experience on Vancouver Island led him to the conclusion that “when prolonged periods of intensely cold weather prevail here, as they do some winters, then Turdus migrutorilrs cuuhus absents itself entirely until spring. If such weather starts early in December and continues more or less throughout January it usually extends far to tbe south of us and doubtless [Sprot says] carries caurinus before it even unto California. . . . It seems to me you and Jewett will simply kave to let caurinus into your states in bad weather, for there is no other place for it to go !”

The facts Sprot gives, and the arguments he bases on them, are in themselves just about conclusive. But the clincher is his statement that there is a known “instance of a probable caurinvs attempting to winter in California.” This was altogether news to me. The particulars were not at his hand at the time Mr. Sprot wrote (under date August 22, 1935) ; so I turned his letter over to Mr. E, L. Sumner, Sr., of the Western Bird-banding Association. The latter at once undertook assiduous letter-writing ln various directions. This brought pertinent replies from Mr. Patrick W. Martin, Mr. J. Alfred Flett, and Mr. Frederick C. Lincoln. All this correspondence Mr. Sumner has placed at my disposal and from it I offer the following summary.

On April 30, 1931, Mr. J. A. Flett placed on a nestling robin, band number A354325 This was in his own ,orchard, 6 1/2 miles from Duncan, in the Cowichan district of Vancouver Island. This bird was accidentally caught in a steel trap of a fur-trapper near Point Reyes, in Marin County, California, “about” January 15, 1932. The report of this “return” came from State and Federal Deputy Game Warden Bert F. Laws, of San Rafael, California, to Mr. George Tonkin, then of Berkeley, whose letter giving these latter details is now in the files of the Biological Survey, in Washington, D. C.

Here, then, is record of a robin that could hardly fail of being of caurinus “blood”, reaching the northwest coast belt of California in mid-winter. One thing to regret: If only that trapped robin had been preserved as a specimen, then its subspecitic characters could have been checked.

J. Grinnell

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, California, January 5, 1936

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