Sunday, December 1, 2013


While September proved to be on the slower side compared to previous years, October was quite the opposite with 9- 100+ bird days of the 20 days we were able to get out. Our busiest day was 19 Oct with 216 birds handled. The weather was beautiful with relatively few days of rain, high winds were more of a factor on some days.

We captured our first and only of the season Eastern White-crowned Sparrow on1 Oct, a HY (hatch year) bird (photo by Jo-Anna Ghadban).
Nothing could top Oct 2nd though for an exciting day! We banded our 30,000 bird that day for Wing Island, a Blackpoll Warbler.
We had a nice variety too with 23 species banded including another Blue-headed Vireo,
 Philadelphia Vireo,
and a Black-throated Blue Warbler,
a HY male with the replaced blue-edged alula covert (A1) compared to the retained green-edged middle covert (A2). 

We also banded our first for the fall Hermit Thrush,
and two adult Red-wing Blackbirds, a female 
and male. 

Mixed in with the flock of Red-wings (most of them escaped the net) was a very special bird, one we've never had at the station before, a Bobolink! We could hear their distinct 'pink' calls as they flew over almost every day since the beginning of September. This bird was aged/sexed as a HY female.
Another bird that I had to take a second look at as I was going through photos was this HY Indigo Bunting. I'm used to seeing more cinnamon-colored wing coverts but this bird had lighter, more distinct coverts. I sent some queries out as whether this could be a Lazuli Bunting. Wishful thinking but no such luck as from what I've been told you can't use the wing coverts to distinguish between HY Indigo Buntings/Lazuli Buntings. Also you won't normally see streaking on Lazuli Buntings, although the underparts  of juveniles can be streaked before their presupplemental molt which they begin a few days after fledging. (The Birds of North America, No. 232- Lazuli Bunting by Greene et al; Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part I by Peter Pyle).
More nice birds came in on the 4th, our first and only Black-throated Green Warbler for the fall, a HY male.
We started hearing Golden-crown Kinglets the day before and captured this female on the 4th,
as well as a Chipping Sparrow
and Savannah Sparrow. 
We ended up banding 32 Golden-crowned Kinglets but only 19 of the less frequent Ruby-crowned Kinglet banded on the 6th, a HY female.

We age kinglets by their tail feathers, quite pointed that I describe as 'needles' protruding from the end of the feather on HY birds
and more rounded on adults. 

On the 7th, Ronald Kielb, Alex Mueller, and I were thrilled to capture a Red-tailed Hawk.  Alex brought one over from Wildcare, a rehab facility, earlier in the year for banding prior to release, but this was our first one captured in a mist net, a magnificent bird.

Thrushes were few and far between at our site this year, we only banded 6 Hermit Thrushes, a species we see far more often than the other species. Rarely do we find a Gray-cheeked Thrush, but we captured one on the 10th, a HY bird ( our eighth one since 2000). The light isn't great in the fall for photographing birds especially early in the morning.
On the 12th Keenan (pictured with Alex Cook) found our first of two Sharp-shinned Hawks of the fall on one of his net runs, a HY female. He was happy!
This bird was a first for Pat too!
Adding to our list of fall sparrows was this HY Field Sparrow on the 12th

 and our first Slate-colored Junco on the 15th, a HY female.
Orange-crowned Warblers, though few,  appear regularly on Wing Island in late fall with our first one showing up on the 16th.
We banded a total of four this year, a HY female shown below.
Considered a 'confusing fall warbler',  HY female Pine Warblers always make me pause for a minute with their plain plumage,
so  drab looking compared to this adult male on 4 Oct.
Of the 1317 Yellow-rump Warblers we banded during our fall season, this bird displayed a calico look with the placement of many leucistic body feathers!
A cool but sunny day on 19 Oct brought our biggest day with 216 handled. Birds were everywhere, including one of my favorite birds, a Winter Wren. We even had to close the nets for a couple of hours so we could keep up!
Birds are not always cooperative when taking photos so we do the best we can in a short amount of time as we don't want to keep the birds longer than we have to. Such was the case on the 22nd when everyone wanted to get in on the act of biting Sue; two Baltimore Orioles, a HY male below
and a HY female Red-bellied Woodpecker. It looks worse than it felt!

The only one who didn't participate in this bad behavior was our first of fall Brown Creeper!

Other nice species to round out the end of the fall included a HY female Northern Parula on 24 Oct,
 a HY Yellow-billed Cuckoo the following day

and our first ever Eastern Bluebirds (3 in all)! I've banded them at my home and other areas but we never seemed to have them in our nets on the island. Pictured below is an adult female followed by the brilliantly plumaged adult male.
The adults have a thin white-edging surrounding p10
 compared to a very wide white-edged juvenal p10 feather found on HY birds.
Just when I thought Oct couldn't get any better, I came home from a long day of banding in the field on 30 Oct, only to find a HY male Rufous Hummingbird at my feeder!

I knew I would have one this year! I filled my deck with potted plants of Pineapple Sage, Lantana, different kinds of salvias and made sure I had fresh food in my feeder. I was able to band him for a certain ID.
In order to differentiate between a Rufous and an Allen's Hummingbird, banders look at the tail feathers. Rufous have a wider r5 and r2 is more emarginated (indented) at the tip.

On 25 November we had a low temperature of 23 F with a wind chill of 15 F so my husband devised this to keep the feeder from freezing. Not very attractive looking but the Rufous doesn't mind!

It doesn't require much energy to run. The cable turns on when the temps fall below 38 F and turns off when temps reach 45 F. He looped it underneath the feeder too to make sure the syrup doesn't freeze from below. It costs $22.94 at Home Depot and $22.00 at Job Lot.
We only banded 5 days in November due to cold temps combined with wind. There were no new birds of note except for our first of the fall White-breasted Nuthatch (HY male). Sadly we missed banding both Fox and American Tree Sparrow, species that are hit or misses for us in November.
Our last day was 16 Nov and it is always a feat to cart all our equipment back over the boardwalk. Jo-Anna took the picture. Good thing it wasn't high tide!  
I want to give a big thanks to all who helped out for October/November- Ron Kielb, Jo-Anna Ghadban, Gretchen Putonen, Pat Kemple, Keenan Yakola, Alex Mueller, Carolyn Kennedy, Judith Bruce, Ben Lagasse, Judy Keller, Hayden Yakola, Yianni Laskaris, Carly Congdon, Alex Cook, and Alice & Jimmy Wynn.
The following is a list of newly banded birds only during the months of Oct/Nov:
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Rufous Hummingbird 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Yellow-shafted Flicker 1
Blue Jay 2
Black-capped Chickadee 27
Tufted Titmouse 11
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 1
House Wren 3
Winter Wren 2
Marsh Wren 5
Golden-crowned Kinglet 30
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 19
Eastern Bluebird 3
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Hermit Thrush 6
American Robin 16
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 2
Blue-headed Vireo 5
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 18
Orange-crowned Warbler 4
Nashville Warbler 10
Northern Parula 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 5
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler 1314
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Pine Warbler 4
Prairie Warbler 1
Western Palm Warbler 21
Yellow Palm Warbler 24
Blackpoll Warbler 58
American Redstart 2
Ovenbird 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 31
Yellow-breasted Chat 3
Northern Cardinal 41
Indigo Bunting 2
Eastern Towhee 8
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 2
Savannah Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 103
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 86
White-throated Sparrow 13
Eastern White-crowned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 3
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 2
House Finch 6
American Goldfinch 87
House Sparrow 5


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