Tuesday, September 28, 2010

20,000th bird!

21-26 September

Banding occurred on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday this week. Wednesday and Saturday were both extremely windy days so I opted not to band for the saftey of the birds.

We had 3 species show up for the first time this fall season on Tuesday. The first was  a hatch year female Ruby-crowned Kinglet pictured below:

Although I was able to positively identify her as a hatch year by skulling, another clue for banders to look at is the very pointed tail feathers on first year kinglets. Some of the feathers almost appear to have small pins projecting from the ends.

While adults tails are still pointed, they are not quite as pointed as the tail above. Below is an adult tail for comparison, although the picture isn't very good. Missing are the tiny projections at the end of the feathers.

Brown Creepers showed up too. We've only banded Brown Creepers during the fall. This bird was a hatch year, sex unknown.

The plumage of creepers is gorgeous and cryptically colored to make them inconspicuous as they travel up and down tree trunks.

Long toenails on their back toe enable them to cling and move easily on tree bark.

Our first Savannah  Sparrow appeared on Tuesday, one that had me a bit stumped at first as I'm used to seeing them with at least some yellow on their lores. This hatch year bird had none.

I banded a Red-eyed Vireo who had some kind of thick coating on its bill even covering its nares.

Not sure what it got into, but luckily I had my tick tweezers and was able to carefully remove it. Ah, now it can breathe easier, I'm sure!

Wednesday evening, the 22nd must have been a good flight night as we banded 20 species of birds on Thursday. The first fall Swamp and White-throated Sparrows arrived. Hatch year Swamps are usually easy to age because of the yellow tint to the lores and supercilium.
Compare to the head coloration of an adult.

 White-throated Sparrows exhibit plumage polymorphism with dull and bright forms. The White-throat we captured on Thursday was a dull morph variety.

We recaptured an old friend we originally banded on May 1st, 2003 as a second year making this Northern Cardinal 8 years old! We caught him twice in '03, twice in '05, once in '08, and this is the 3rd time this year. He remains in the same area every time. I was fortunate not to get this picture without him getting a piece of me!


This wasn't the case with the Purple Finch, pictured below.

In case you aren't sure if this is a Purple or House Finch take a look at the unstreaked (mostly) undertail coverts of the Purple Finch:

Banders can also differentiate between the two, if they bite it is definitely a Purple!

We had a choice between the best bird of the day. One was the hatch year Connecticut Warbler below. The eye ring wasn't quite as complete as I'm used to.
According to Pyle (our 'go to' book for banding), Connecticuts can occasionally have small breaks in the normally complete eyering. Also by comparing certain measurements and feathers in their wing, we can differentiate between the two. The ninth primary feather should be at least 3.5 mm longer than the 6th primary feather, which is the case here, whereas in Mourning Warblers the ninth primary is usually shorter. The ninth primary is the furthest feather to the right in the wing.

The other cool bird this day was a Gray-cheeked Thrush! Note the grayish coloration in the face and indistinct eye ring. Swainson's Thrushes have a buffy appearance and more distinct eye ring. Measurements were also done to rule out Bicknell's Thrush.

Species diversity was down a bit on Friday, but we did manage to band a Brown Thrasher, a bird we don't see too often anymore.

Four new Song Sparrows were also banded. Song Sparrows are hard to age by molt limits, we usually do it by skulling, but I find most of the hatch years we band replace the outer 5-6 primaries and I can occasionally see the difference. In the photo below, this Song Sparrow replaced the outer 5 primaries and retained the inner four. Take a look and see if you can notice the darker shafts of the outer feathers compared with the lighter brown shafts of the juvenal primary feathers. You might have to double click on the photo to make it bigger.

Yellow-breasted Chats are always enjoyable to capture and today we caught two, one male and female. I took a picture to compare the face coloration. The lores of the male are blackish (bottom bird) and dark gray in the female (top bird).

Winds were gusting on Saturday so no banding, but Gretchen and I did get out on Sunday. I thought the catbirds had pretty much passed through but we banded 35 new catbirds this day.

I've been wondering when the yellow-rumps (Myrtle Warblers) would show up and sure enough three appeared in our nets. In the next three weeks we will probably band at least 600 of them!

We had a Lincoln's Sparrow

and I was able to capture a good example of streaking on the throat in this photo:

Our most exciting bird today was not the species, but the fact that it is our 20,000th bird banded on Wing Island since opening in 2000. This doesn't include other birds banded at other sites, but just on Wing Island. A hatch year Nashville Warbler!

Thanks very much to Jan Bridge, Jo-Anna Ghadban, Suzanne Moore, Gretchen Putonen, and Jessica Rempel for helping this week. The following birds were seen, heard, or captured between 21-26 September. Numbers reflect captured birds only.

Total Birds: 301                     Total Species: 65
Total Banded Species: 38        Birds/100 net-hours: 54

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
American Black Duck
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker- 2
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Eastern Phoebe- 2
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay- 6
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 41
Tufted Titmouse- 24
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper- 3
Carolina Wren- 3
House Wren- 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet- 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet- 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush- 1
American Robin- 2
Gray Catbird- 127
Northern Mockingbird- 1
Brown Thrasher- 1
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Red-eyed Vireo- 3
Nashville Warbler- 2
Northern Parula- 1
Yellow Warbler- 1
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler- 3
Western Palm Warbler- 2
Blackpoll Warbler- 10
Black-and-white Warbler- 1
American Redstart- 1
Ovenbird- 2
Connecticut Warbler- 1
Common Yellowthroat- 7
Yellow-breasted Chat- 4
Northern Cardinal- 4
Eastern Towhee- 4
Savannah Sparrow- 1
Song Sparrow- 22
Lincoln's Sparrow- 1
Swamp Sparrow- 1
White-throated Sparrow- 2
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Purple Finch- 1
House Finch- 1
American Goldfinch- 9
House Sparrow

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mid September Birds

15-20 September
Numbers and diversity of birds slowed down a bit this week, but we still managed some nice birds!  There always seems to be a lull in numbers while Gray Catbirds decline and Yellow-rumps have yet to arrive. I didn't get back to the field until Wednesday last week due to family obligations Monday and Tuesday. I caught another Wilson's Warbler, a young male, but had such a well-developed black cap I thought at first it was an adult. Skulling the bird proved otherwise.

Three more Palm Warblers showed up this day, all Western Palms. We tend to capture more Western Palm Warblers (WPWA) here in the fall than the eastern counterpart, Yellow Palm Warbler. Western Palms are a bit smaller with back grayer and white belly contrasting with yellow undertail  feathers and throat. Typical behavior of Palm Warblers is tail bobbing and this bird was no exception as its tail bobbed the whole time I took pictures!
On Monday the 20th I captured a hatch year male Yellow Palm Warbler (YPWA) and took some pictures for comparison. You can see how much brighter and yellow he is.

Normally I leave the sex for Palms as unknown, but this bird had a good amount of chestnut in the crown.

Juvenile Song Sparrows are now molting their body feathers and losing their buffy coloration in favor of more adult-looking plumage.

Male Black-throated Blue Warblers were highlighted last week, but I caught our first female hatch year Black-throated Blue Warbler on Wednesday. They look very different from males, once considered a separate species by Audubon.

A very interesting bird today was an adult male Prairie Warbler (the same bird at the top of this blog) whose plumage was so orange he resembled the coloration of a Blackburnian Warbler! Must be those honeysuckle berries he's been munching on. I'll be curious to see what he looks like next spring. Prairie Warblers apparently molt only head feathers during their pre-alternate molt in the winter. We've captured him numerous times since first banding him in the spring of '08. Studies show the brighter the male, the more attractive he is to the ladies, so this bird may do very well next spring!
We've been banding numerous juvenile American Goldfinches since last week including this young male captured on Thursday the 16th. The body plumage of young birds is quite brownish. We tell males and females apart by the color of their wings, very black in males and dusky black in females.

The bill color in first year Northern Cardinals is starting to change from brown to orange as seen in this young male.

I had another hatch year Yellow Warbler, much brighter than last week.

Four more flycatchers were captured this week (2 Traill's and 2 Yellow-bellied) including this Traill's with some kind of plant material I believe around it's legs. At first I thought it might be spider silk but there were seeds inside the material. I'd appreciate any thoughts on what this might be. I was able to cut the material off with scissors. The legs and toes showed no ill effects.  
There was no banding on Friday due to rain. Saturday we had another successful banding demo with at least 40 people. Species diversity was down a bit from the one we gave last week with 16 species banded compared to 20 species the week before. The group enjoyed seeing our first Lincoln's Sparrow this fall.Notice the much finer streaking and buffier appearance compared to the Song Sparrow pictured earlier in this post.

Jan Bridge, a participant in the audience provided pictures of a young male Yellow-shafted Flicker with a few orange shafts on the feathers (not quite visible in this photo),  
    a Nashville Warbler,

and a Red-eyed Vireo.

We had a Blackpoll Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush, but unfortunately most people had left before capturing the waterthrush.
On Monday the 20th, our first Golden-crowned Kinglets came in. This bird is a hatch year female, with only yellow in the crown.

I also had our first Black-throated Green Warbler (hatch year female) show up this day,

along with Warbling Vireo, a female American Redstart, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and an Ovenbird (below).

A big thank-you to all who helped with banding this week- Peter Brown, Carolyn Kennedy, Gretchen Putonen, and Jessica Rempel.

The following birds were seen, heard, or captured between 15-20 September. Numbers reflect captured birds only.

Total Birds: 205                       Total Species: 66
Total Banded Species: 34          Birds/100 net-hours: 42
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird- 1
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker- 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker- 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher- 3
Traill's Flycatcher- 2
Eastern Phoebe- 1
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 24
Tufted Titmouse- 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren- 4
House Wren- 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet- 1
American Robin- 5
Gray Catbird- 89
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Warbling Vireo- 1
Red-eyed Vireo- 8
Nashville Warbler- 1
Yellow Warbler- 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler- 1
Black-throated Green Warbler- 1
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler 1
Yellow Palm Warbler-1
Western Palm Warbler- 3
Blackpoll Warbler- 3
American Redstart- 1
Ovenbird- 1
Northern Waterthrush- 1
Common Yellowthroat -13
Wilson's Warbler- 1
Yellow-breasted Chat- 3
Northern Cardinal- 1
Eastern Towhee- 3
Song Sparrow- 13
Lincoln's Sparrow- 1
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch- 7
House Sparrow