Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rest of October

10-27 October
October is always a busy month at the banding station and this month was no exception. We've banded more birds so far this fall than any other year. By the 10th Yellow-rump Warbler numbers exploded as usual at this time of year and we continued to band many of them until their numbers waned on the 26th. We banded another Gray-cheeked Thrush on the 10th, this one being much lighter in color than the one on the 6th.

We also captured another HY Black-throated Green Warbler.

On the 12th we had many birds of 25 species, one of our best days for diversity. We were surprised to find Cedar Waxwings still in full juvenal plumage.
It was our first day of Marsh Wrens for the fall caught in the same net, one being exceedingly smaller than the other one.
The plumage coloration on the back is quite stunning.
We finally banded a Winter Wren after two escaped right out of our hands. Wrens are certainly wiggly creatures!
 While we've handled numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets this fall, our first Ruby-crowned Kinglet didn't show until the 13th, a young male.
He had spongy material wrapped around his legs, I've shown this before on other birds, and it turns out to be spider webbing. I was able to clip the webbing easily off his legs. 
On the 16th I joined James Junda, who runs the South Monomoy Banding Station, and his crew to band Saltmarsh Sparrows on North Monomoy. We arrived near high tide. Those working for the refuge had never seen it so high.
We scoured the area to determine the best place to set up nets.
Here James is ageing one of the sparrows captured. 
Saltmarsh Sparrows have perfect coloring to fit into the salt marsh, the bird below happens to have some leucism (some of the feathers lack melanin and appear whitish).  
These sparrows have very pointed tails. This HY bird is showing off his juvenal tail feathers, they are almost translucent. You can see why this species used to be called Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
Most of the young European Starlings have now molted into their formative plumage and look more like adults in basic plumage such as this one captured on the 17th.
This bird had a few retained juvenal feathers along with juvenal central rects which have an indistinct edging.
He was sexed as a male due to the brown iris. 
At this time the majority of HY Carolina Wrens

have gone through an incomplete molt as seen in the photo below. The blue arrow points to the pointed, abraded primary coverts and a molt limit is seen between primaries p2 with its light brown shaft and indistinct barring and p3-p9 with dark brown shafts and distinct barring. Clicking on the photo will make it easier to see.
Compare that to an adult wing below with rounded primary coverts (blue arrow) and distinctly barred primary and secondary flight feathers.
We captured our first of the fall Eastern White-crowned Sparrow on the 17th. The plumage coloration easily identifies it as a first year bird.
This bird had molted all of its greater coverts with a molt limit at the alula covert. 
Luckily we had a large group helping on the 21st, our biggest day, with 251 birds handled, 177 of those were yellow-rumps and one late Ovenbird. Another Lincoln Sparrow was banded on the 23rd
along with a very late HY female Wilson's Warbler,  
their fall presence in Mass usually ends the last week in September.  
Red-breasted Nuthatches are heard all over the island but we don't capture that many compared to how many I hear! This HY female is showing off her new body feathers and older retained flight feathers. 
The following day, the 24th, our first Sharp-shinned Hawk was captured, a HY female. First year birds can be identified by the vertical breast streaks and yellow eye. Her long wing identified her as female.
House Finches have also finished molting now making it easier to sex males with their reddish plumage on the face, breast and rump.
These finches can be told apart from Purple Finches by the streaking on the undertail coverts. 
We banded 4 White-throated Sparrows on the 27th and were able to compare a bird with bright morph plumage (right) and one with dull morph plumage (left). It is said that a bright morph will only mate with a dull morph and not with another bright morph (and visa versa).
Thanks very much to all who helped during the past three weeks- Gretchen Putonen, Keegan Tranquillo and his girlfriend Stephanie, Carolyn Kennedy, Judy Keller, Alice and Jimmy Wynn, Ben Lagasse, James Junda, Judith Bruce, and Jessica Rempel. The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or banded during this time period.
Total birds: 1056                                      Total species: 72
Total species of banded birds: 41             Birds/100 net-hours: 136
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 new
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker 2 recaps
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Eastern Phoebe 1 new
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay 2 new
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee 15 new; 49 recaps; 1 unbanded
Tufted Titmouse 16 new; 4 recaps; 1 unbanded
Red-breasted Nuthatch 9 new; 1 recap
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper 2 new; 2 recaps
Carolina Wren 1 new; 6 recaps
Winter Wren 1 new; 1 unbanded
Marsh Wren 2 new
Golden-crowned Kinglet 15 new
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 new; 1 recap
Eastern Bluebird
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1 new
Hermit Thrush 5 new; 3 recaps
American Robin 22 new; 1 recap; 3 unbanded
Gray Catbird 22 new; 9 recaps
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing 2 new
European Starling 1 new
Red-eyed Vireo 8 new; 5 recaps
Nashville Warbler 1 new
Cape May Warbler 1 new
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler    851 new; 126 recaps; 22 unbanded
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 new
Pine Warbler
Western Palm Warbler 5 new
Yellow Palm Warbler 9 new; 1 recap
Blackpoll Warbler 15 new; 2 recaps
Ovenbird 1 new
Common Yellowthroat 6 new; 1 recap
Wilson's Warbler 1 new
Yellow-breasted Chat 1 new; 2 recaps
Northern Cardinal 38 new; 7 recaps; 2 unbanded
Eastern Towhee 1 new
Song Sparrow 56 new; 49 recaps; 1 new
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 new
Swamp Sparrow 34 new; 6 recaps; 1 unbanded
White-throated Sparrow 4 new; 4 recaps
Eastern White-crowned Sparrow 1 new
Dark-eyed Junco 3 new
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch 2 new
American Goldfinch 32 new; 1 unbanded
House Sparrow




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yellowrumps are in!

2-7 October

We had a great first week of October with many species and lots of birds coming through. We were rained out a few days but still managed a decent assortment. The Eastern Phoebes have passed through for the most part, but catbirds are still here in good numbers. The catbirds are usually gone before high numbers of yellow-rumps come in, but not this year! They must have had a really good breeding year as our catbird total for the year so far is over 1,000 birds. We normally band between 500-700/yr. Our first Myrtle Warblers (yellow-rumped)  showed up on the 2nd with just a few birds but as the week progressed so did their numbers.
Also on the 2nd was a Traill's (probable Alder) Flycatcher that we banded a week before. It had added quite a bit of fat and weight and probably was ready to take off soon. Warblers this day besides the yellow-rumps included Nashville, Black-throated Blue Warbler, more Blackpolls, Ovenbird, and Western Palm Warbler. Besides Song Sparrow, we are banding more Swamp Sparrows now and another Lincoln Sparrow. A  second year female Yellow-shafted Flicker was banded in early afternoon, they are so large they often escape our nets.
During their molt in their second year, woodpeckers will replace some outer primary coverts but retain the inner ones. 
In their 3rd year, they will replace all their primary coverts but might retain one or two juvenal feathers randomly placed. This female Hairy Woodpecker below was recaptured on the 7th and was originally banded as a hatch year in Novemeber 2010 so she is now in her third year.
The yellow arrow points to the browner retained juvenal feather.  
We had 17 species of birds on the 5th ; our first Brown Creeper of the season and
two Hermit Thrushes, one with a particularly bold eyering.
The reddish tail feathers contrast sharply with the back. 
They were both hatch year birds with buffy edging to the greater coverts that travel up the vein.  
While I had been hearing Golden-crowned Kinglets around the island since September 27th, we didn't capture any until the 5th when we had four birds.
The male is so pretty with his orange and yellow crown. 
The female a bit more subdued with only yellow coloration. 
A great surprise on the 5th was capturing two Scarlet Tanagers, a bird we rarely get in our nets.We had one in 2002, two in 2009, one in 2010, and now these two this year. Fortunately we had one of each sex for comparison. Both birds were hatch years. The female has olive-green plumage and greenish-dusky wings.
The young male also has olive-greenish plumage but his wings are black. 
The Scarlet Tanager has a distinct tooth-like structure on the upper mandible possibly to help with mashing the fruits and seeds consumed.  
This young Blackpoll Warbler we caught on the 5th
had a deformed foot caused by a probable pox virus. We then clean our equipment so we don't spread it to other birds. 
We usually find a bird with leucism every year, especially in the fall on hatch year birds. Leucism is when just some of their feathers lack melanin and no color is produced like the feathers on this chickadee. Some of its head and back feathers were white.
We had an even better day on the 6th when we handled 132 birds of 24 species. Highlights from this day were a Gray-cheeked Thrush

and our first Chipping Sparrow of the year. In the fall Chipping Sparrows can be separated from Clay-colored Sparrows by the more distinct eye line including the lores
 and the gray rump contrasting with the brown back. 
Our first junco appeared on the 6th, a hatch year female.
But I think the best bird of the day was Yellow-billed Cuckoo, not one but two!
The orbital ring is yellow in the hatch year birds and will turn dusky as the bird ages.  
We also had our first Winter Wren for fall, but being a wriggly wren, it escaped out of my hands before banding! Hate it when that happens! It could have been our one and only for this year.
A big thank you to Gretchen Putonen for helping out this week. The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or banded during this time period.
Total birds: 379                                      Total species: 66
Total species of banded birds: 36           Birds/100 net-hours: 72

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2 new
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker 2 new; 1 recap
Hairy Woodpecker 1 recap
Yellow-shafted Flicker 2 new; 1 unbanded
Traill's Flycatcher 1 new (probable Alder)
Eastern Phoebe 1 new; 2 recaps
Tree Swallow
Blue Jay 1 new
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee 8 new; 13 recaps
Tufted Titmouse 11 new; 2 recaps
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 new
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper 1 new
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren 1 unbanded
Golden-crowned Kinglet 7 new;  1 unbanded
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1 new
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush 3 new
American Robin 3 new
Gray Catbird 69 new; 35 recaps; 5 unbanded
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Blue-headed Vireo 1 new
Red-eyed Vireo 16 new; 4 recaps
Nashville Warbler 1 new
Magnolia Warbler 1 new
Black-throated Blue Warbler 3 new
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler 59 new; 8 recaps; 2 unbanded
Pine Warbler
Western Palm Warbler 6 new; 1 unbanded
Yellow Palm Warbler 1 new
Blackpoll Warbler 12 new
Ovenbird 2 new
Common Yellowthroat 4 new; 1 recap
Scarlet Tanager 2 new
Northern Cardinal 12 new; 1 recap
Eastern Towhee 2 new; 1 recap; 2 unbanded
Chipping Sparrow 1 new
Song Sparrow 18 new; 16 recaps
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 new
Swamp Sparrow 12 new; 1 recap; 2 unbanded
White-throated Sparrow 3 new
Dark-eyed Junco 1 new
American Goldfinch 5 new, 1 recap
House Sparrow