Regulus satrapa

| 12 Comments

Photograph by Dave Rintoul.

Photography contest: “Animal” category.

rintoul_golden_crowned_kinglet.jpg

Regulus satrapa – golden-crowned kinglet, male, captured at a winter bird-banding site near Ft. Smith, Arkansas. These tiny (6 g) birds have been in North America for eons; fossil remains of kinglets, dated to 400 Ma ka ago, have been found in tar pit deposits in California.

12 Comments

Excellent pic, Matt! I really like these birds. I saw my first one last year (along with the Ruby-crowned Kinglet) and thought they were one of the more interesting birds I’ve encountered since getting into birding. They have this interesting behavior where they flit from branch (usually short trees of less than 40 foot height) to branch licking and picking at the tips of the branches and some of the leaves for small invertibrates, fungus, and plantlife. I finally got a pair in backyard last fall (and I live in a pretty suburban area) and just sat and watched them for hours. Thanks for the pic!

Quote: dated to 400 Ma ago

This seems very old. Did you mean 40 Ma ago?

What does the “Ma” mean in this context?

The photographer said “400,000 YBP,” which I somewhat pedantically translated into SI (the International System of units). M is mega, and a is the SI symbol for the year. Since the (nonavian) dinosaurs went extinct 65 Ma ago, I suspect that 40 Ma is the right number. I have nevertheless asked the photographer to post a clarification.

The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago (i.e., 65,000,000 YPB). 40 Ma is 40,000,000 years not 400,000 years.

Well, I don’t have the original paper, which is

Miller, A. H. 1932. The fossil passerine birds from the Pleistocene of Carpinteria, California. Univ. of Calif. Publ., Bull. Dept. Geol. Sci. 21:169-194.

but the Birds of North America account for this species

Ingold, James L. and Robert Galati. 1997. Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/301

says this

“A kinglet (Regulus sp.) has been identified from the late Pleistocene (Rancho La Brean North American Land Mammal Age, 400,000 years before present and younger) asphalt deposit at Carpinteria, CA (Miller 1932).”

I’ll see if I can dig up the original paper, or some other citation.

Matt Young said:

The photographer said “400,000 YBP,”

That would be 400 Ka, which seems more in line with what I (dimly) recall of the California tar pits.

Apparently there is a kinglet known from Late Pleistocene deposits approximately 400ka (400 *thousand* years ago), though I don’t know if that was from a tar pit; there’s a European bird that’s older, Late Pliocene. Nothing approaches 40ma, much less 400ma.

The group is quite old, much older than any of its known fossils, though we don’t know how old. It’s also difficult to figure out its relationships to other passerines. It might be a sylvioid, or it might be a muscicapoid, or it might end up in its own superfamily. Nobody knows yet.

Yes, sorry, that’s right - I am the culprit. Should have been “400 ka ago”. I know the SI system cold, but arithmetic is another matter. I’ll go back and fix the caption.

Fossil Kinglets in the Pre-Carboniferous…

OK, now what about “have been in North America for eons”? Since when does the last 400k years count as “eons”? That’s more like one 1400th of an eon, isn’t it? (The shortest eon being the Phanerozoic, at 543 million years, so far.)

Robin said:

Excellent pic, Matt! I really like these birds. I saw my first one last year (along with the Ruby-crowned Kinglet) and thought they were one of the more interesting birds I’ve encountered since getting into birding. They have this interesting behavior where they flit from branch (usually short trees of less than 40 foot height) to branch licking and picking at the tips of the branches and some of the leaves for small invertibrates, fungus, and plantlife. I finally got a pair in backyard last fall (and I live in a pretty suburban area) and just sat and watched them for hours. Thanks for the pic!

Good observation for birds that, like warblers are constantly on the move. One must be good with binocs to follow them!

gregwrld

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 26, 2009 12:00 PM.

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