Sunday, August 28, 2011

End of July and Fall migration

27 July- 27 Aug

The last week in July was busy with fledged birds. We handled 153 birds of 22 species in just two days as we sampled birds for ticks. Our first Orchard Oriole for the year was banded on 25 July, a hatch year of unknown sex.

The bird was captured with a group of Baltimore Orioles. Orchard Orioles are smaller than Baltimore's and are more yellow than orange. This bird presented with a nicely lined-up  growth bar in it's tail, a key that can help us age juveniles.

Another new species not handled yet this year was a House Sparrow. While many birders cringe at the thought of House Sparrows, there is no denying this youngster is high on the 'cute' scale.  

A young catbird was captured on 25 July with an extended upper mandible, a phenomenon we occasionally see on HY birds.
It appears the tip was broken off at some point and then grew back.

Fall migration monitoring began this year on 3 August.  Phoebe's nest every year under the eaves of the museum's outbuildings and it wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't one of the fledged young still in full juvenal plumage.

On our last net round a Nothern Mockingbird showed up , an adult female with a brood patch that was drying up,  

as well as our first HY female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, with her clean white throat.

Notice the buff feather edges on the top of the bird's head, indicating a young bird.

Two days later we caught our first HY male ruby-throat

Young males have streaked throats and eventually develop red gorget feathers.

On the 6th an adult male cardinal was showing signs of molt and possibly a case of head mites! 

Adult cardinals can pack a powerful bite so I tried to distract him with a stick for this photo.

This same day a HY American Redstart was captured and unlike the cardinal above was quite cooperative as I took his picture!

Northern Waterthrushes usually show up in our nets in August and our first one arrived on 12 August. They look similar to Lousiana Waterthrushes, but Northern Waterthrushes have more extensive streaking on their breast, and Louisiana's have a more extensive, white supercilium. 

We hear flocks of Cedar Waxwings almost every time we band on the island and it was only a matter of time before the young showed up in our nets.

The young have streaking on the breast and this bird still had a very short bill.

Young Towhees, of which we've had many this year, are progressing in their molt and are starting to resemble their parents. This young male below has almost finished his first prebasic molt.

We were delighted to capture a Chestnut-sided Warbler on the 18th, a rarity in our nets.

This young male had slight chestnut streaking to his flanks, not quite visible in this photo.

A surprise on 19 August was a Mourning Dove.  These large birds typically bounce out of the net.

This male had a long tail, bluish nape and pinkish feathers on the throat and breast.

We haven't had many flycatchers this month but did capture a Traill's Flycatcher also on the 19th.

Using measurements and calculations this is a probable Willow Flycatcher, but I will send it in to the Bird Banding Lab as a Traill's. Regardless it is always a pleasure to handle these birds.

We've been capturing numerous chickadees for the past week with pinkish breasts and very sticky feet!  

It appears they are munching on choke cherries that are found abundantly on the island.

Another warbler we don't often capture, maybe once/year showed up on 23 August, a HY female Canada Warbler. The eye ring is striking!

The indistinct streaking on the breast and very short wing chord (58 mm) led us to sexing her as a female.

More migrants arrived the following day, our first Yellow-breasted Chat for the year, 

another HY male American Redstart,

and a HY female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

The white patch at the base of the primaries on this bird is an easy identification mark for Black-throated Blues. 

We attempted to band on the 27th, the day before the storm, but rain was fast approaching and the nets needed to be well secured  in anticipation of the hurricane, so we closed by 8:30. We did end up with 45 birds, mostly catbirds and a few other species but we also captured our first HY Red-eyed Vireo for our fall migration season.

Hopefully, I'll be able to post more often as fall migration progresses. Many family obligations have gotten in the way this year! And we'll keep our fingers crossed that we will survive the impending hurricane without too much damage. Many thanks as always to the following for volunteering at the banding station during this time period: Judith Bruce, Jo-Anna Ghadban, Judy Keller, Carolyn Kennedy, Gretchen Putonen, and the Johnson family- Sheryl, Lauren, and Kristen.

 For those interested, the following is a list of birds seen, heard, or captured (with numbers) from the past month.  Robins appear to be doing very well this year. We've had more numbers of them this year than any year previously (58 in all so far).

Total birds: 796                          Total banded species: 37
Total species: 65                         Birds/100 net-hrs: 52

Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Bobwhite
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird- 30
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker- 8
Hairy Woodpecker- 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker- 3
Traill's Flycatcher- 1
Eastern Kingbird- 4
Eastern Phoebe- 6
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay- 1
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 63
Tufted Titmouse- 12
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren- 21
House Wren- 1
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin- 45
Gray Catbird- 280
Northern Mockingbird- 1
Cedar Waxwing- 8
European Starling- 5
Red-eyed Vireo- 1
Yellow Warbler- 13
Chestnut-sided Warbler- 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler- 1
Prairie Warbler- 6
American Redstart- 2
Ovenbird- 3
Northern Waterthrush- 2
Common Yellowthroat- 116
Canada Warbler- 1
Yellow-breasted Chat- 1
Northern Cardinal- 6
Eastern Towhee- 21
Song Sparrow- 93
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Orchard Oriole- 2
Baltimore Oriole- 21
House Finch- 8
American Goldfinch- 5
House Sparrow- 2

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