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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


1- 28 September

September is always a fun month to band and weather cooperated most of the time. While we had oodles of birds, our species count was down and we missed many species we normally get- Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Mourning Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, and no thrushes what so ever!

We banded another 11 Yellow-breasted Chats, all hatch years, making this year's total 16 so far, our highest count for this species.
Chats are easily aged, HY birds do an incomplete molt, molting some of the outer primary feathers and inner secondaries, although I don't always see it in the secondaries. From the picture below this chat has replaced primaries 4-9 and retained primaries 1-3 (click on the picture for a better view). There is a noticable difference between the dark shaft and feather of the fourth primary compared to the browner 3rd primary.

He replaced the sixth secondary feather shown below, again darker in both shaft and feather than the adjacent s5.
The majority of our Prairie Warblers have moved on but we did capture 4 more this month including this young male.
HY male Prairies show a molt limit, usually at A1 (the alula covert-see red arrow), which is darker than the other two alula feathers and primary coverts.
 Males have distinct dark streaks on their sides as seen in the first photo and dark chestnut feathers on their back.

We captured our first for the season American Redstart on the 2nd

as well as our first of five Red-breasted Nuthatches. They have been vocalizing up a storm!
Female RB nuts (that's what we call them) have gray crowns contrasting slightly with gray back,
while the crown of the male contrasts sharply with the back. 

Goldfinch numbers have jumped substantially in September since young have fledged and they flock together in groups.
On the fourth we captured a Red-eyed Vireo with a band that did not belong to our station! Any of you banders out there recognize this bird? 2181-59468. I've inquired to nearby banding stations, sent info to the Bird Banding Lab and sent out a query on the Birdband listserv but no takers yet. Since it was a HY bird, I'm sure the bander has not sent in the information yet in the middle of the fall season. I'll be sure to post where it came from when I find out!
6 September brought the first of three Acadian Flycatchers, the most we've had in a year. They are part of the Empidonax Flycatcher family and can be challenging on occasion to sort out. Acadians are known to be the 'least cute' due to their big head.
Besides all the measurements we do to separate these species, we also take a look at their leg color, gray for Acadian, 
and the shape of their 6th primary feather (p6). On Acadians it is not emarginated (emarginated means the outer web of the feather narrows towards the tip as in p7 & 8) seen in the photo below. 
Also on the 6th brought our first of many Blackpoll Warblers, a HY bird of unknown sex.

While most of our birds are in their first year, we've also had a few adults. Males look dramatically different in their alternate plumage from spring breeding plumage,  but are still distinguished by their white bellies and black streaks about the head, throat area, and distinct black streaks on their sides. They also have large dark centers to their back feathers.
While on the subject of Blackpolls, they are known for their yellow feet as shown below
but some of them have such striking color they almost approach orange! 
Sadly we've had no Mourning Warblers this year,however I won't rule it out yet, but we were excited to get 3 Connecticut Warblers, the most we've ever had. The first one showed up on the 6th and then two on the 25th.
Other nice warblers this month included Pine Warbler, a nice bird to show off for our banding demo on the 8th (although this was our adult male banded on the 25th),

Black-throated Green, a HY male, on the 11th,
a HY Magnolia Warbler on the 14th,
 Canada Warbler
Nashville Warbler 
and a Black-throated Blue Warbler, all on the 16th.  
HY Black-throated Blues males are easy to age and sex due to their distinct plumage, notice the blue-edged replaced alula covert  (A1) sitting atop the green edged retained juvenal A2. 
We had a Black-and-white Warbler, HY male, on the 18th, with dark black streaking to the sides

 along with our first Blue-winged Warbler of the year, another HY male.

Our first of many Palm Warblers (mostly Western subspecies)  also came in on the 18th 
and a Wilson's Warbler was captured on the 20th.
He had an extensive cap with some mottled greenish edging indicating HY. 
Besides the many Red-eyed Vireos we banded this month, we also banded two Philadelphia Vireos, the first arrrived on the 14th.
The outermost primary (p10) is quite reduced in this species.

On the 18th, Warbling Vireos came in
Their p10 is longer, usually as long or longer than the primary coverts. 
We banded three Blue-headed Vireos with the first arriving in our nets on the 24th.
Besides our many Song Sparrows, we had a rather early White-throated Sparrow on the 14th,

a Lincoln's Sparrow
and Swamp Sparrow on the 25th,
and two Savannah Sparrows on the 27th. The first Savannah below had no yellow in the lores 
compared to the bright yellow lores of the second one we banded.  

Some other interesting birds this month were a HY female Eastern Towhee with some leucism on her back and head
and more surprising, a very young Mourning Dove still in juvenal plumage captured on the 18th.  
Thanks to all who helped out this month- Gretchen Putonen, Carolyn Kennedy, Judy Keller, Jessica Rempel and Judith Bruce. The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or banded during this time period.
Total birds: 1120                           Total species: 89
Total banded birds: 48                   Birds/100 net-hours: 57
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Osprey Last seen 9/14
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
American Woodcock
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove 1 new
Eastern Screech-Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4 new
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker 2 new; 2 recaps
Hairy Woodpecker 2 new
Yellow-shafted Flicker 1 new; 2 unbanded
Acadian Flycatcher 3 new
Alder Flycatcher 1 (probable) new
Traill's Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe 32 new; 9 recaps; 1 unbanded
Great Crested Flycatcher 2 new
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay 2 new; 1 recap
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee 15 new; 61 recaps; 4 unbanded
Tufted Titmouse 4 new; 2 recaps
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5 new
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren 6 new; 10 recaps
House Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin 1 new
Gray Catbird 276 new; 306 recaps; 15 unbanded
Northern Mockingbird 2 new
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling 2 new 
Blue-headed Vireo 3 new
Warbling Vireo 2 new
Philadelphia Vireo 2 new; 4 recap
Red-eyed Vireo 38 new; 9 recaps
Blue-winged Warbler 2 new
Nashville Warbler 4 new
Yellow Warbler 8 new; 2 recaps
Magnolia Warbler 3 new
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2 new
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 new
Pine Warbler 4 new
Prairie Warbler 4 new; 1 recap
Western Palm Warbler 9 new
Yellow Palm Warbler 2 new
Blackpoll Warbler 22 new; 1 recap; 1 unbanded
Black-and-white Warbler 1 new
American Redstart 4 new
Ovenbird 2 new
Connecticut Warbler 3 new
Common Yellowthroat 30 new; 5 recaps; 2 unbanded
Wilson's Warbler 1 new
Canada Warbler 1 new
Yellow-breasted Chat 11 new; 4 recaps
Northern Cardinal 11 new; 1 recap; 1 unbanded
Eastern Towhee 13 new; 5 recaps; 1 unbanded
Savannah Sparrow 2 new
Song Sparrow 40 new; 29 recaps; 2 unbanded
Lincoln's Sparrow 1 new
Swamp Sparrow 2 new; 1 recap
White-throated Sparrow 1 new
Baltimore Oriole Last seen 9/2
House Finch 2 new
American Goldfinch 40 new; 3 recaps; 1 unbanded
House Sparrow