Monday, October 31, 2011

They're Back!

Included in this blog are the last two weeks of October that I've divided separately.

18-23 October
After all the moaning and questioning about our lack of Myrtle Warblers (yellow-rumps), they finally showed up in good numbers on the 18th. I imagine by the end of the season we'll have banded only half of what is typical for us, but it's good to know they didn't abandon us completely. We've noticed them eating the juniper berries and there are plenty of those on the island. So far the 18th was our biggest day with 155 birds captured and 55 of those were yellow-rumps. We handled 23 species including a black-speckled adult male Blackpoll Warbler (92  banded so far),

another Brown Creeper

with it's gorgeous reddish-brown rump,

a hatch year female Black-throated Blue Warbler with a minimal white patch at the base of the primaries,

and another young Swamp Sparrow with it's yellowish wash on the lores.

They have dark centers to their undertail coverts.

We banded two more Yellow-breast Chats, a HY male shown below.

Here is Juliet Lamb, an ornithologist who has been helping out in between jobs, checking the chat for ticks in his ears.

She'll be leaving us soon to study the behavior of Andean Cock-of-the rock birds in South America. Here is a link to these magnificent looking birds!
We're surely going to miss her help!

Juliet and I headed out a bit apprehensively on the 19th as rain showed all around on the radar but not in Brewster. We thought we might have time to get a few hours in before the rain and as the skies darkened we started to close the nets at 9 am. As we furled the last nets rain fell lightly and luckily we were able to get all birds processed and ourselves off the island before the rain really started to come down. We ended up with only 27 birds this day including two Northern Bobwhites that were flushed into a net as I approached.

Rain and family obligations prevented me from getting back out into the field again until Sunday, the 23rd. We had 128 birds of 17 species, a nice assortment consisting of this HY Magnolia Warbler of unknown sex,

a HY female Orange-crowned Warbler,

and Lincoln's Sparrow.

We banded a Common Yellowthroat with either an injury or disease on it's breast

and banded 50 more Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of whom had a deformity to both nares (like nostrils in humans) where they were very large and mishapen.

The last week in October appears below after numbers for this week including our special Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow!

Thanks to the following who helped this week- Juliet Lamb, Jo-Anna Ghadban, Gretchen Putonen, Becca Miller, Jessica Rempel, Carolyn Kennedy, and Judith Bruce.

The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or captured (with numbers) during this time period.

Total birds: 310                      Total species: 52

Total banded species: 28         Birds/100 net-hrs: 71

Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Northern Bobwhite- 2
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker- 2
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 8
Tufted Titmouse- 1
Brown Creeper- 2
Carolina Wren- 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet- 7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet- 2
Hermit Thrush- 3
American Robin- 7
Gray Catbird- 7
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Red-eyed Vireo- 1
Orange-crowned Warbler- 2
Magnolia Warbler- 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler- 3
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler- 126
Palm Warbler- 1
Yellow Palm Warbler- 1
Western Palm Warbler- 7
Blackpoll Warbler- 15
Common Yellowthroat- 5
Yellow-breasted Chat- 4
Northern Cardinal- 23
Song Sparrow- 46
Lincoln's Sparrow- 1
Swamp Sparrow- 16
White-throated Sparrow- 9
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch- 5
House Sparrow

24-31 October

The 24th started out as a calm day with northwest winds but the wind picked up as they changed over to southwest late morning. We don't capture as many birds on windy days as the nets are easily seen. We still managed to capture 118 birds. The best bird of the day had to be this HY Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow!

This is only our second Gambel's that we have banded at this station. The pale grayish upper lores don't contrast in color with the supercilium and the bill is more orange than pink.

Compare to the HY Eastern White-crowned Sparrow from a couple of weeks ago, with it's dark lores and pinkish bill. 

Another sparrow that gave us pause this day was a HY White-throated Sparrow with orange lores instead of yellow. I'm sure the berries it was eating as his feathers were growing played a part in the color.

Among the 53 new Myrtle Warblers banded today was a young bird with pox on it's right leg.

We always band a large number of Northern Cardinals later in the fall and today was no exception. Jo-Anna is using a clothespin that we use to tell what nets the birds are from  to keep this gal occupied while she bands her. Better than having your fingers chomped on! Jo-Anna has been studying with me for the past year and is learning how to age and sex birds of many species.

We didn't get many birds on the 25th, the winds were just too high and had to close a number of nets. The following day on the 26th a storm was approaching, but Jo-Anna and I thought we could get a few hours in before we had to close due to weather. I guess the day before was the calm before the storm. As we made our way around the nets during the first round we had so many birds that we had to close all the nets on our second round. Because of the approaching storm we opened only four nets near our banding table and still the birds were coming fast and furious. This definitely would have been over a 200 bird day had we had enough volunteers and  no worries of bad weather. As it was, Jo-Anna and I had 121 birds with 100 of those being yellow-rumps.  One of those Myrtle Warblers included a very colorful adult male

with very rounded tail feathers.
A Blue-headed Vireo was also banded

and a new species for the year, a HY Marsh Wren

with the typical black feathers on it's back. 

The 28th was a cold, cloudy, and windy day but we had enough help to get to the nets quickly and handled 76 birds. A HY robin was one of the first birds to be banded

with an easily seen molt limit in the wing. The first two inner greater coverts (longer and grayer without edging traveling up the feather vein) have been replaced and the others are retained.

 We also had our 2nd Winter Wren,

also with a molt limit in it's wing similar to the robin above although much less consipicuous. The first two inner greater coverts have been replaced with white tipping and darker, grayish coloration near the base as opposed to the beige tipping of the shorter juvenal feathers .

We didn't get out again until Monday the 31st after the nor'easter. Luckily our nets were in good shape with no trees down on the island. Opening took a while to clean out debris, but otherwise there was no damage. The day was sunny and pleasant, although cool, and birds were abundant. Myrtle Warblers are still here in good numbers with 62 handled today. We also banded 6 Hermit Thrushes.  

We've been hearing flocks of Cedar Waxwings most days and found 3 in our nets today, but I was surprised to see them still in juvenal plumage.

Another surprise was this HY female Baltimore Oriole, who we heard vocalizing earlier in the day.

She had replaced her greater coverts, but not the carpal covert, and also a molt limit is seen in the tertials. The last tertial feather (s9) has been replaced, but s7 & 8 are retained. 

We banded 2 House Finches, the bird below while looking female had a reddish rump and a partially ossified skull so I'll probably send it in as sex unknown, while the other one was more colorful and a definite male.

By the end of the day we had handled 133 birds of 22 species, a nice variety for the end of October. We banded 1030 birds of 55 species for the month of October.

Thanks to all who helped this week- Jo-Anna Ghadban, Juliet Lamb and her boyfriend Yvan,  Becca Miller, and Judith Bruce.
The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or captured (with numbers) during this time period.

Total birds: 488                        Total species: 57
Total banded species: 30          Birds/100 net-hrs: 83

Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Common Eider
Black Scoter
Sharp-shinned Hawk- 1 escape!
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Bobwhite
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker- 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 16
Tufted Titmouse- 1
Brown Creeper- 1
Carolina Wren- 3
Winter Wren- 2
Marsh Wren- 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet- 11
Ruby-crowned Kinglet- 9
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush- 9
American Robin- 7
Gray Catbird- 1
Cedar Waxwing- 3
European Starling
Blue-headed Vireo- 1
Nashville Warbler- 1
Magnolia Warbler- 2
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler- 303
Western Palm Warbler- 4
Blackpoll Warbler- 5
Common Yellowthroat- 5
Northern Cardinal- 14
Song Sparrow- 33
Swamp Sparrow- 27
White-throated Sparrow- 16
Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow- 1
Slate-colored Junco- 3
Red-winged Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole- 1
House Finch- 2
American Goldfinch- 4
House Sparrow


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