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

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