Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Uncooperative Weather

29 September- 3 October

This past week has almost been a bust for banding as the winds have howled along the coast. Threat of rain was predicted every day, but didn't really hit us until the end of the week. The weekend was clear and winds had diminished somewhat enabling us to at least open some nets.

On Wednesday I captured an adult female Downy Woodpecker.

Woodpeckers present more of an ageing challenge for banders by molt limits since they can go through several years of partial molts. I am looking for opinions from other banders on her age. At first I aged her as a second year (SY/TY) due to the retention of juvenile feathers in her primary coverts (pcovs), but normally it is the outer pcovs that are replaced. Both wings looked the same. She had finished her prebasic molt, but the innermost primary covert appears juvenile as well as the two outer pcovs. The middle pcovs are replaced, although I'm not sure if I'm seeing one of those feathers that was possibly replaced during a 2nd prebasic molt and retained during this molt, which would then put this bird in the TY/4Y age class. Maybe I'll just have to age her as an AHY. Click on the picture to enlarge it and let me know what you think.

Two Blackpoll Warblers were banded this week, one an adult male who had some black spotting on the throat and head

and wide, rounded (we say truncate) tail feathers.

The other Blackpoll was a hatch year bird

who was so full of fat it seemed to have a bit of trouble keeping airborne! There was a large fat pad covering the abdomen, under the armpits, and fat was bulging out of the furcular hollow (area above the breastbone).

We handled five titmice this week, all hatch years, and all with attitude!

Molt limits were visible between the replaced, grayer greater coverts and the retained, browner juvenile primary coverts.

Two more Yellow-breasted Chats were captured on Wednesday as well as this adult male House Finch. I took a picture of his streaked undertail coverts as I did last week with the unstreaked Purple Finch.

Nasty weather prevented me from getting back out in the field until Saturday. We captured our first Slate-colored Junco for the fall season, a hatch year female, 

along with a hatch year Nashville and Magnolia Warbler, with the Maggie pictured below

We recaptured a hatch year Carolina Wren first banded at the end of June

and another House Wren, also a first year bird.

Probably the highlight of the day was this adult White-eyed Vireo Gretchen found in the net on our last net round.

All in all we handled 37 birds today of 16 species, not bad for a windy day with only certain nets open. We had a few more birds on Sunday (40) but only 11 species. The highlight on Sunday would have been a Black-billed Cuckoo if I had been quicker getting to it, but I didn't run fast enough and with a few flaps of its wing it was out of there!

We continue to band catbirds (762 so far) and one we captured on Sunday was still quite young just starting to molt his greater coverts and body feathers.

This bird even went in for a partial French manicure! It had two white toe nails, one on each foot, same toe.

A few more Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers arrived, although not in the numbers we have had in past years at this time. Below is an adult male. Notice the blue feathers at the top of his wing 

and the wide black centers to the uppertail coverts, edged in blue.

 This young female is more brown, she also had a molt limit in her wing

and thinner black centers to the uppertail coverts with a mixture of brownish-blue edging.

We banded another Purple Finch, a hatch year male with a molt limit in his wing.

Purple Finches have a partial molt their first year replacing some or all greater coverts, but this bird replaced all of his median coverts and only the inner 7 greaters, retaining the 3 outer juvenile gcovs.

Our nets near the salt marsh yielded a first year Savannah Sparrow

and a young Saltmarsh Sparrow, still going through its first prebasic molt.

Thanks to those who helped out this week- Gretchen Putonen, Peter Brown, and Jo-Anna Ghadban. The following birds were seen, heard, or captured between 29 September-3 October. Numbers reflect captured birds only.

Total Birds: 129                              Total Species: 49
Total Banded Species: 26                Birds/100 net-hours: 36

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Cooper's Hawk
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo- 1 escape!
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker- 3
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Eastern Phoebe- 1
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 28
Tufted Titmouse- 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren- 1
House Wren- 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Gray Catbird- 47
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
White-eyed Vireo- 1
Red-eyed Vireo- 1
Nashville Warbler- 1
Magnolia Warbler- 1
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler- 5
Blackpoll Warbler- 2
Ovenbird- 1
Common Yellowthroat- 2
Yellow-breasted Chat- 5
Northern Cardinal- 7
Eastern Towhee- 1
Savannah Sparrow- 1
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow- 1
Song Sparrow- 9
Slate-colored Junco- 1
Purple Finch- 1
House Finch- 1
American Goldfinch- 1

1 comment:

MarkN said...

Re the Downy Woodpecker: Just by looking at the wing molt (not sure of the other characteristics) my first thought is ASY, as that molt pattern is one of those "undocumented" ones in Pyle, but I have seen in only on known-age (i.e. banded as HY) TY/ATY birds. Probably AHY is the best alternative, but I'd be most curious if the combined characteristics were leading you to an age of SY. Thanks, Sue; congratulations for the recent 20,000th bird! -- Mark Newstrom