Monday, June 3, 2013


May started out real slow this year causing us to wonder if migrating birds were ever going to come or passed us by completely. Numbers of birds processed was very low throughout the first week and we didn't hit 30+ until the 11th, although we had a nice variety of birds on the 10th. We banded another Brown Thrasher on the 2nd and also had an old friend return to us, this 6 year old female Eastern Towhee.
For a nice comparison of male and female towhees, here is a SY (second year) male banded on the 4th. One of our older male towhees has returned, I know because he has a different song from the typical Eastern Towhee, the first part of the song sounds normal but he ends it sounding like a robin! His territory is very large too, I hear him in a wide variety of places around the island.
We heard our first Prairie Warblers singing on 30 April but didn't band one until 6 May, this gorgeous ASY (after second year) male.
The 8th brought in our first older adult male Common Yellowthroat (on the 15th we recaptured one we banded 8 years ago as a SY bird making him 9 years old!),

House Wren,
and a SY female Pine Warbler (although we could hear males singing since 29 April).
As I mentioned in my last post, we've encountered numerous cardinals this spring with deformed, peeling, or broken bills including this poor SY male we also banded on the 8th. He did have a healthy weight however so he is obviously able to eat.
You can see his brown covert feathers amongst his replaced red ones indicating a SY bird. 
We handled only 18 birds on the 10th but did have a nice variety- an ASY male Black-throated Blue Warbler,

a SY male Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle),
an ASY male Yellow Warbler
and a SY female Northern Parula.
Northern Cardinals are having a rough time physically this year at our site. On the 11th we banded one that not only had probable mites on his scalp where the bald spot is,
but also had cloacal flukes, probably making it impossible for him to breed. 
Our first of 2 Savannah Sparrows for May was banded on the 13th
and on the 15th we banded our 2nd of 4 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, an adult female. They will often sit in your hand after the banding process not realizing they can fly away, which often gives us good photo opportunities. Simply blowing on them will cause them to take off!
I always love the opportunity to age woodpeckers, especially when you can check yourself with a recapture (a bird we previously banded). This TY (third year) female Hairy Woodpecker was first banded by us as a HY (hatch year) bird on 10 Sep 2011.

This bird has retained some of her inner primary coverts (browner, more worn), but replaced her outer primary coverts (blacker, better quality) during her prebasic molt last year after breeding.
More First of Year birds were banded on the 16th including 3 Black-and-White Warblers, all females,
this handsome ASY Magnolia Warbler, I just had to show him off from all angles!

Another Northern Parula, but a male this time 
and our first and only Swamp Sparrow this spring! 
On the 18th we were delighted to have Bob Mulvihill join us. Bob ran the Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pennsylvania for many, many years, one of the best places to band birds in my opinion! They have so many species of birds in great numbers. Here he is showing off his wonderful teaching skills. Pictured below left to right- Jo-Anna Ghadban and Gretchen Putonen standing and Ronald Kielb and Bob sitting.
We banded a leucistic male American Goldfinch that day, where some of his feathers lacked any color.
Compare him to a normal colored male goldfinch.
 More firsts for this spring were an adult female Baltimore Oriole
and a  5+ year old female Common Yellowthroat showing her age with darker than normal auricular feathers and a grayish supercilium similar to a male. Occasionally older female birds can take on some male characteristics. 
We've heard this male Field Sparrow singing near our nets since 6 May, he has a very distinctive song, instead of a steady pitch (sounding like a bouncing ping pong ball), his has an upward trill at the end.  
We banded both male (top) and female (bottom) House Finches also on the 18th. 
Our best day this spring was on the 21st of May with 61 birds of 17 species banded. We banded 5 new Blackpoll Warblers, both males and females for a good comparison since they look so different!
First the female with her olive coloration,
and here is the male, with beautiful white, black, and olive colors. After breeding he will molt into his basic plumage and resemble the female above, but for now isn't he spiffy!  

We tried to get a good picture of the two of them together but it was hard to do without one of them out of focus.
Other warblers captured this day were a  male Chestnut-sided, a spring first for our site, 
 two Magnolias, neither as pretty as our male from the16th,
 three Northern Waterthrushes,
and 2 Wilson's Warblers, both SY males.

Looking at the black crown you'll notice some of the black feathers have greenish edging indicating SY. He also had a molt limit at his first alula feather but the picture we took is hard to see.
Other interesting birds were a Great Crested Flycatcher with a brood patch (meaning it was sitting on eggs) but since it wasn't a full brood patch I couldn't sex it since both parents will incubate the eggs.
Another incubating female was this Red-winged Blackbird who was quickly processed so she could get back to her nest.
Gray Catbirds were late this year, usually we see them at the end of April, but this year we didn't capture our first one until 10 May.  
This catbird on the 21st presented with two leucistic secondary feathers. 
The 22nd was another good day, not as many birds but still decent diversity. We banded more Black-and-White, Blackpoll, Prairie, Magnolia, Yellow, and Wilson Warblers, along with some new warbler species, a SY male American Redstart with black spotting on his face and breast
and a very old Blue-winged Warbler female we capture almost every year, I'm sure she breeds somewhere close by as some years she has a brood patch. She is now 8 years old! 
We also had another Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Lincoln's Sparrow and a species we don't capture very often in the thrush family, a Veery. This is the only thrush we captured this spring, although we heard a Wood Thrush singing on the 21st.

The 28th brought in our first of 4 Canada Warblers, all SY females.
Females have an indistinct necklace on their breast and a lack of black feathers in the face. 
We also banded a Philadelphia Vireo, another spring first for our site 
Vireos are identified by the hook on their upper mandible.
Sometimes we find very dull Philadelphia Vireos and very bright Warbling Vireos that could cause some confusion as to their identification. In the hand we can easily tell the difference because Phillies will have a very short p10, shorter than adjacent primary coverts, the p10 indicated by a black arrow.
We also had a Red-eyed Vireo this day, you can easily see how this bird got his name! 
This SY American Redstart lost part of his tail adventitiously and grew in adult tail feathers (orange rather than yellow) on his right side.

 Warblers were still coming through in good numbers on the 30th and FINALLY we captured an ASY male redstart, I've only been waiting since 2001 to photograph one again after losing my early pictures due to a computer crash years ago.
Compare the bird above to a SY female restart, so much more subdued!

 Another Chestnut-sided Warbler was banded, a SY female. She has indistinct dull black coloring to the lores and moustache.
A Traill's Flycatcher was also banded this day, but off it went before I could get photos!
It has been fun this spring teaching budding new banders, Ron Kielb (left) and Keenan Yakola all aspects of banding, ageing, and sexing birds. They have picked it up fast and I believe they have caught the banding bug!

 Chestnut-sided Warblers were still coming through on the 31st and we also captured a female goldfinch with a big surprise,
she had a brood patch! The earliest I've ever had a brood patch on a goldfinch was 26 June and that was just one out of over 600 females we've banded. There is always a surprise while banding! 

 Even though migration was late this year we still had a good variety and we banded more new birds this month than we have in seven years. There were numerous windy days when we had to close up early but weather cooperated for the most part although it was quite cold the first half of the month. One surprise was not capturing any Ovenbirds and not hearing or capturing any Nashville Warblers this month. A big thank-you to all who helped out this month (in order of volunteer hours)- Ronald Kielb ,Jo-Anna Ghadban, Keenan Yakola, Gretchen Putonen, Corey Accardo, Gus Romano, Alex Mueller, and Carolyn Kennedy.
The following is a list of birds seen, heard, or banded during this time period.
Total birds: 538                                        Total species: 95
Total species of banded birds: 45             Birds/100 net-hours: 26
Northern Gannet
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Bobwhite
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird- 4 NEW
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker- 1 NEW
Hairy Woodpecker- 1 RECAPTURE
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Traill's Flycatcher- 1 NEW
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher- 1 NEW
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay- 2 NEW; 1 RECAP
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee- 9 NEW; 24 RECAPS; 1 UNBANDED
Tufted Titmouse- 3 NEW; 1 RECAP
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch- 1 NEW
Carolina Wren
House Wren- 1 NEW
Veery-1 NEW
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird- 98 NEW; 48 RECAPS; 2 UNBANDED
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher- 2 NEW
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo- 1 NEW
Red-eyed Vireo- 1 NEW
Blue-winged Warbler- 1 RECAP
Northern Parula- 5 NEW
Yellow Warbler- 18 NEW; 3 RECAPS
Chestnut-sided Warbler- 3 NEW
Magnolia Warbler-8 NEW
Black-throated Blue Warbler- 1 NEW
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler- 1 NEW
Black-throated Green Warbler
Pine Warbler- 2 NEW
Prairie Warbler- 10  NEW; 6 RECAPS
Blackpoll Warbler- 6 NEW
Black-and-white Warbler- 4 NEW; 1 RECAP
American Redstart- 7 NEW; 1 RECAP
Northern Waterthrush- 3 NEW
Common Yellowthroat- 45 NEW; 70 RECAPS; 4 UNBANDED
Wilson's Warbler- 4 NEW; 1 RECAP
Canada Warbler-4 NEW; 1 RECAP
Northern Cardinal- 9 NEW; 10 RECAPS
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Eastern Towhee- 3 NEW; 6 RECAPS
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow- 1 NEW
Savannah Sparrow- 2 NEW
Saltmarsh Sparrow
Song Sparrow- 4 NEW; 24 RECAPS; 2 UNBANDED
Lincoln's Sparrow- 2 NEW; 1 RECAP
Swamp Sparrow- 1 NEW
White-throated Sparrow- 1 NEW
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird-3 NEW; 1 RECAP
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird- 2 NEW; 1 RECAP
Baltimore Oriole-2 NEW
House Finch- 2 NEW
Red Crossbill- 1 NEW
White-winged Crossbill- 2 NEW (I'll talk about  both crossbills
 in another post!)
American Goldfinch- 36 NEW; 8 RECAPS; 1 UNBANDED
House Sparrow





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