Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Easterly winds not favorable for migration in Navarre

Another light East wind today made our catch slow again with 53 new birds and 9 recaptures totaling eighteen bird species. Seven warbler species were netted (Black-throated Blue, American Redstart, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Common Yellowthroat, Blackpoll, and Ovenbird). A highlight for the day was a female Scarlet Tanager. A male was also seen on site as well. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Winter Wren were other specialties for the day.

Top 4 species and number banded:
Swainson’s Thrush - 11
Gray Catbird - 10
Gray-cheeked Thrush -9
Blackpoll Warbler -6

There is still a lot to see this season so get out and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There is still a few Gray Catbirds Around!

With Northeast winds, I was not expecting many birds. We caught 45 new birds and 13 recaptures for a total of 12 species. Thrushes remain the dominant birds around. Another White-throated Sparrow appeared in the net for a band. Not many have made it this far south or at least to the Navarre ridge. I have not heard many of their recognizable chip calls. Gray Catbirds continue to have extended stays here. The birds are finally arriving with some fat. They had been mostly ranging in the low 2-3 range of a scale of 6. This is good to see since we know the Blackpoll Warbler has the longest trip of the warblers for a 72 hour ocean tour from the Carolinas to northern South America. Others have the 18-24 hour trip across the Gulf which can be hindered or delayed by hurricanes.

Top 5 Bird Species and Number Banded
Swainson’s Thrush -15
Gray-cheeked Thrush -12
Gray Catbird -5!!
Blackpoll Warbler -4
Magnolia Warbler -3
Enjoy the great days!

Monday, September 22, 2008

First day of fall brings the first Golden-crowned Kinglet

So at 11:54 AM it became officially fall, and with that we caught our first Winter Wren to start off the season! The kinglets are here and there making their high pitched calls. The first Golden-crowned Kinglet was heard and captured today. Ready or not, here they come! With a northeast to easterly wind the beach ridge was not the place to be for hoards of birds but there was a nice selection of birds. Forty-four new banded birds with 22 recaptures were netted including 12 species. A Blue-headed Vireo graced us with its presence for a first for the fall season. Ovenbirds are still keeping pace with their daily appearance. Five warbler species were captured including Ovenbird, Nashville, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, and Blackpoll.

Top 4 Species and Number Banded
Swainson’s Thrush - 18
Gray-cheeked Thrush -8
Blackpoll Warbler -4
Gray Catbird -4!!!!

Enjoy the fall season with balmy temperatures.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Large female Cooper's Hawk hits the net and We win!

A Northeast wind produced a slower day. However, there was and is a good variety of birds around to enjoy. The day’s catch consisted of 45 new birds with 13 recaptures including 15 species. The majority of the recaptures are thrushes and catbirds again. Nine warbler species were netted or observed at the site. Highlights for the day are: one big female Cooper’s Hawk, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Bay-breasted Warbler, and another Brown Creeper. The immature Cooper’s Hawk made the crew oohh and ahh! The talons on this bird were over an inch in length. They are no match for any songbird.

Top 5 Species and Number Banded
Swainson’s Thrush -20
Gray-cheeked Thrush -7
Gray Catbird -4
Magnolia Warbler -3
Veery -2
Cooper’s Hawk has vertical stripes on the breast and the eye is still gray. By next spring the eye color will be yellow. By three years the eye color will be orange to red and the breast will have rusty horizontal barring instead of the vertical brown streaks.
Take time to enjoy the season!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Southerly winds did not hinder the catch

Another light southwest wind made the lake quite calm and peaceful if I might say so myself. I was surprised that the boaters were not out on the lake. They lost out on a beautiful day. Back to the birds. Today’s catch included 107 new banded birds of 21 species with an additional 27 recaptures. Eleven warblers graced us with their presence Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Nashville, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Cape May, Black-and-white, and Tennessee. Once again thrushes and catbirds were the main birds again. We did capture the adult male Mourning Warbler again. He is always a handsome sight to see!
Highlights for the day are the two Red-breasted Nuthatches that were taunting me high up in the Hackberry trees and the first Brown Creeper and White-throated Sparrow for the fall season. Southerly winds still had a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher hanging around and of course another great bird today was a Blackburnian Warbler!

Top 5 Species and Number Banded
Blackpoll Warbler - 22
Swainson’s Thrush - 21
Gray-cheeked Thrush -17
Gray Catbird - 14
Common Yellowthroat -9

An unusual catch was a Mourning Dove. They may fly into the net but the small mesh size keeps them from getting caught. The net mesh size is 30 mm which is for warbler sized birds. This dove was an adult female. It has obvious molt limit (last year’s feathers or more than one generation of feathers) and no iridescence on the head.

Today is a great day for quizzes. Here is a Black and White Warbler we captured today. Can you tell me the age and sex of this bird?

Enjoy one more Quiz Bird!
P.S. Black-and-white Warbler is a Hatching Year Male—gray face with distinct black stripes on the flanks. Females have blurry streaks on the flanks. Adult males have black cheek patches with distinct black striping on flanks.

The other quiz bird is a female Cape May Warbler—remember the fine streaks on the chest and the fine bill.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Despite southerly winds, we caught our first Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

While I was at an Ohio Wind Working Group meeting today, Mark and great volunteers covered the banding station in my absence. A southwest wind produced 69 new birds in the net with an additional 22 recaptures for a total of 15 species. A majority of the recaptures were thrushes and catbirds. Eleven warbler species were captured today. The first Yellow-rumped Warbler was observed in the trees. Lots of warblers were moving around in small pods but not many were captured in the nets. Highlights for the day included the first ruby-crowned kinglet and a juvenile Cedar Waxwing. The waxwing still had the tawny gray juvenile plumage.

Species and Number Banded
Swainson’s Thrush - 20
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 15
Gray Catbird -15
Blackpoll Warbler - 5

It is still another great day to go outside!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brisk northeast winds pushed birds off the beach ridge

The winds were kicking up greatly on the lake with a strong northeast wind. This curtailed birds being out on the ridge for us today. There were still plenty of thrushes. I saw the first White-throated Sparrow for the fall. That means fall is coming fast. There were 57 new birds captured today with 9 recaptures including 12 bird species. Ovenbird still remains in high numbers as well. There were some Blackpolls around but none were low enough for catching in the nets. Seven species of warbler were seen or caught in Navarre. The highlight was the adult male Mourning Warbler. He seems a bit late to be here but you can’t mistake this handsome bird!
Species and Number Banded
Swainson’s Thrush -23
Gray-cheeked Thrush -16
Ovenbird -6
Gray Catbird -3

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best day ever for the fall season

The early morning was calm with the winds picking up from the southwest for the rest of the day. It did not deter the birds from dropping in during the early morning. We had our best day ever for the fall. It kept us busy. Thrushes were the big catch today but we had some great highlights which included a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a hatching year Purple Finch, a nice adult male Cape May Warbler, and a Yellow-throated Vireo…yes I did say Yellow-throated Vireo. It is not as likely to be seen in the fall as the occasional one in the spring. This was a treat or maybe not to the volunteer that extracted if from the net and had blood drawn on his hand from the bird’s bite. Another interesting bird was a recaptured Ruby-throated Humming bird from yesterday.

We netted 127 new birds of 25 species including 13 warblers. Thirteen recaptures with Gray Catbirds and Gray-cheeked Thrushes making up the bounty of birds staying around for a couple days. There are still plenty of catbirds to go around. I heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch as we were closing the nets. Another sign fall is coming!

Species and Number Banded

Swainson’s Thrush- 32
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 22
Blackpoll Warbler - 22
Gray Catbird - 11
Common Yellowthroat - 8
Ovenbird - 5

Get outside and enjoy the day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monarch butterflies were migrating this morning...

Northwest winds caused the morning net set up to be chorused by burping thrushes. They were thicker than they had been all fall season. Monarch butterflies were migrating this morning also. It appeared that some had spent the night here. It was another beautiful day to add to our best day of the fall. One hundred and five new birds with 8 recaptures which included 22 species of birds. Two of the recaptures were Black-throated Blue Warblers which have been hanging around for a couple days. Ten species of warbler were netted including Tennessee, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Canada, Nashville, Magnolia, Blackpoll, Common Yellowthroat and Ovenbird. A couple of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were heard at the site but none came low enough for a visit in the nets. What this means is there are plenty of reasons to get outside and go birding!

Top 5 birds:
Swainson’s Thrush - 29
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 24
Magnolia Warbler - 8
Ovenbird - 5
Blackpoll Warbler - 4

Highlights for the day were two more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Philadelphia Vireo, Black-throated Green, and Canada Warbler.

Hatching Year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird with the stripes on its throat including some iridescent feathers present. However, the light was not right for the iridescence to show up.

Philadelphia Vireo

Warbling Vireo

All vireos have blue-gray legs. The best way for me to distinguish between these two vireos is to look at the throat color. Hatching year Warbling vireos can have some yellowish wash to the flanks but never in my experience have yellow on the throat. The Philadelphia to some has a stronger contrast to the supercilium. I have difficulty in seeing the distinction.

Enjoy the beauty of the Season!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nice day for songbirds...

Northerly winds proved to be a nice day for songbirds. Today we captured 56 new birds with 8 recaptures which totaled 22 species. Eleven species of warblers filled the bag and a very good one which is in the picture below. A Black-and-white Warbler was seen on the point count but not captured. Warblers included Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Blackpoll, Connecticut, Ovenbird, American Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat, plus the quiz bird below.

Highlights for the day were two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Connecticut Warbler and the quiz bird.

Top five species captured:
Swainson’s Thrush - 14
Blackpoll Warbler - 9
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 5
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Common Grackle - 4

So here goes….The best bird of the day is your quiz bird!

Good Luck! Hint: look at the facial markings they are a good indicator for me.

Enjoy the season!

P.S. Quiz bird is Blackburnian warbler! Yes, we finally had one this fall!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blackburnians have not arrived yet...

It was not raining today. That was the good part of the day after the past two days. More is to come tonight but it was clear this morning. Southwest winds made for a quiet day in the marsh. Thirty-five birds were new with 8 recaptures for a total of 11 species captured. Eight species of warbler with a Black-throated Green observed on the point count. I think the Blackburnians are waiting for a good day to show up in Navarre. Yes, again I hear they have been seen on the Magee Boardwalk. That is okay. They are still around that is the best part.

Top 4 species:
Swainson’s Thrush - 12
Blackpoll Warbler - 9
Gray Catbird - 3
Tennessee Warbler - 2

Here is a young male (hatching year) Common Yellowthroat. Since his mask is starting to show the bird can be called a male. A hatching year Common Yellowthroat without any black molting in can only be called unknown which really bums me out. The bird could/can still be in the process of molt so juvenile Common Yellowthroats all appear like females until they molt into their basic plumage.

The winds look favorable for the tomorrow if the rain gets out of here.

Looking forward to a good day of birds!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Swainson's are here...

It was close to a rain out. We were able to get a couple hours in before it poured again. I would say the weekend was not the best to be out looking for songbirds. I must give our volunteers another big hats off for their dedication and willingness to assist with a research project despite the conditions. Thanks!!!

The yield was 22 new birds with 3 recaptures. Mourning Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were the only warbler species caught in Navarre. A Magnolia Warbler was captured at the Observatory for the public demonstration. Yes, it was still a go and 13 people were very happy we had the big tent up. They were also pleased to see the Marsh Wren which was a great comparison to the Carolina Wren. Sorry no pictures. The weather kept us busy. A couple volunteers managed a few shots so if they share I will pass them along to you.

Top 3 species for the day:
Swainson’s Thrush - 9
Gray Catbird - 5
House Wren - 2

As you can see the Swainson’s are here for a while. A Gray-cheeked Thrush was captured but it was the sole Gray-cheeked for the day.

Many thanks to the volunteers for your help on this day!

Enjoy the beauty of the season,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big increase in thrushes...

Today we need to remember to be thankful for our freedom and for those who fight for it everyday.

The wind was calm this morning. A little fog settled in as I dropped the nets. Another beautiful day brought the catch of the day to 45 new birds and 8 recaptures. Warbler species were slim today in numbers and species. Northern Waterthrush, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackpoll Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat, and Ovenbird were the grand tally of warblers. Fifteen species of birds were captured with a big increase of thrushes having moved in. We also were graced with the presence of 3 flycatcher species (Eastern Wood Pewee, and Eastern Phoebe).

The highlight for the day was a nice looking Marsh Wren! Such variety of browns and grays to make the bird look spectacular! This bird is recognized by its white eye supercilium stripe and a dark triangle on its back. Most only get a quick glimpse of the bird or hear its clatter song in the cattails.

Saturday September 13th at the Bird Observatory there will be a bird banding demonstration, weather permitting (Hurricane Ike may put a damper on it). The program will start at 10 AM for about an hour or so. We will talk about the Bird Observatory’s migration research project and have a sample of birds that are migrating through the marsh region.

Enjoy the great weather!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yellow-billed Cuckoo is today's highlight...

High pressure has light East winds coming off the lake but there were a few more chip calls today compared to yesterday. These days have been beautiful to be outside! The day produced 35 new birds plus 5 recaptures for a total of 14 species. Not much to sing about the birds today (not much singing goes on this time of year anyhow). A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was probably the best highlight for the day. Gray Catbirds are still hanging out waiting for the first sign of fall. After all, it is not fall season until the 21st. You should be able to see a Gray-cheeked Thrush around the marsh region so if you have not seen one, get out and look for them. Gray-cheeks take a different fall migration route than they do in the spring. Their fall migration route from the breeding grounds in Alaska and at that latitude is a southeasterly route having them cross Ohio. Ohio is not the main route for them returning from their South American wintering grounds. Therefore, fall is the best opportunity to see them.

Hatching year Red-eyed Vireos may fool you with their dark eye. Never fear! It will turn red by spring.

Top 4 species:
Swainson’s Thrush - 9
Gray Catbird - 4
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 3
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 3

Enjoy the beauty of the season.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Magee Bird Trail had a good variety of birds...

A cold front came in during the night so I was expecting some additional birds. As I am always reminded, I cannot predict the volume of birds in the fall. I can say there are a good variety of birds around NW Ohio. The Magee Bird Trail has had a good variety of species as well. There is no need to stay home. It is a beautiful day and the birds are around.

Today we netted 29 new birds with 12 recaptures. A Magnolia Warbler and a couple Swainson’s Thrush were among the recaptures. Gray Catbirds added to the recaptures but it always seems they stick around for a lengthy time in the fall. Nine warbler species were captured (Black and White, Nashville, Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll, Magnolia, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird). A new species for the fall was a couple Gray-cheeked Thrushes. They will be here in good numbers in the next couple weeks.

Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Observatory's Window on Wildlife was hopping with birds.....

Cool mornings cause me to be invigorated by the fall season. My fingers are not frozen so I can say it is great to be up early! You all should get out and enjoy the day! The warblers were chipping all over the place today. I could not tell what a lot of them were but I knew they were there.

The Window on Wildlife at the Observatory was hopping with birds too! Audubon of Ohio sponsored a rain garden for the Observatory and not only do we think it looks great but the birds love it too! Here is a list for today from the window: Philadelphia Vireo, Carolina Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Several immature Cedar Waxwings using the water feature, and here are the warblers: Mourning, Cape May, Black and White, American Redstart, Wilson’s, Magnolia, Nashville, and Ovenbird. The Observatory is open Friday through Monday every week so come on in and see the wonderful rain garden and what birds it attracts!

For Navarre Marsh migration monitoring site, we caught 74 new birds with 13 recaptures which included 21 species. Twelve of the species were warblers. A few more than I thought because I tend to forget Northern Waterthrush and Ovenbird when adding up warblers in my head. Ovenbirds have been around in good numbers this fall. They are very secretive and quiet this time of year.

Besides not being able to identify the warblers during the point count this morning there was a good number of Chimney Swifts migrating today. They too are more silent than what you hear in the spring time.

Tennessee Warbler

Highlights for the day were: Tennessee Warbler and still some Canada Warblers around. It was also a big day for American Redstarts.

Top 5 species:
Gray Catbird - 12
American Redstart - 11
Swainson’s Thrush - 8
Magnolia Warbler - 7
Ovenbird - 6

I have to do it. Here is another quiz bird for you! This one I warned you to study this one several days earlier. Give it your best try.

Good Luck!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not common to catch an American Woodcock...

Another light northerly wind produced some inkling that fall migration is here. Eighty-two new birds captured with an additional 10 recaptures making up 24 species. There was an increase in the numbers of Swainson’s Thrush and Magnolia Warblers today. The flycatchers are still around with Yellow-bellied Flycatchers making an appearance in the mist nets.

Highlights for the day are American Woodcock, Wood Thrush, Cape May Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler. This is the third woodcock for the fall. It is not common to catch them in the net because of the mesh size of the net is for smaller warbler size birds so they usually wiggle and fly out of the nets.

Top 6 species
Swainson’s Thrush - 19
Magnolia Warbler - 15
Blackpoll Warbler - 7
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6
Ovenbird - 4
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 4

Here is a hatching year male Black-throated Green Warbler:

Here is a quiz bird for you:

And it was appropriate that we had visitors from New Jersey to view the bird!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thrushes finally made agrand appearance...

A light northerly wind looked very promising. I had my fingers crossed for a nice day and guess what!?! Not a shabby day, it almost doubled our best day of 28. We banded 49 new birds in addition to 3 recaptures adding up to 16 bird species captured. Ten of those species were warblers. The thrushes finally made a grand appearance- representing numbers of Swainson’s Thrush and Veery were netted.

Here is the undersides of two of the warbler species and see if you can ID them:

Note: length for the undertail coverts to the tip of the tail is different length.

Top 5 species
Swainson’s Thrush - 11
Veery - 9
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6
Magnolia Warbler - 5
American Robin - 4
Highlights for the day were Mourning Dove, Warbling Vireo, Blackpoll Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Connecticut Warbler.

Note the complete eye ring of the Connecticut Warbler. There is no break or split at the halfway mark as you see in the Mourning Warbler eye ring.

Hatching year (immatures) Mourning Warblers have an incomplete eye ring in both sexes.

**Connecticut Warblers have shorter tail projection past their undertail coverts and Mourning Warbler has longer tail projection beyond their undertail coverts. The Connecticut Warbler is on the right and the Mourning Warbler is on the left in the picture of the undersides of the warblers seen above.

Enjoy the little intriguing things about nature!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Birds did not appear today...

A misty rainy day today with the hopes of more birds, however, not many appeared. Twenty-two birds including four recaptures. Twelve warbler species were captured today. Top two species were Swainson’s Thrush with 4 banded and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher with 3 individuals banded. It was another day with a capture of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and another Black-and-White Warbler. Several Common Nighthawks were seen flying around while setting up the nets and one flying over the beach nets at around 10:00 AM.

Here is a picture of the beach habitat that remains to the east of Navarre Marsh. The beach lies to the East Southeast from the main banding station. The beach habitat is a demonstration of how a beach ridge is created in the western basin of Lake Erie. The Toussaint River is to the South Southeast where the flow of the river current and the flow of the lake deposited sand outside the armored rock dike of Navarre Marsh. Over the past decade willow, dogwood, and cottonwood trees have vegetated the ridge. The beach habitat which is a smaller version of the beach ridges which are protected on the other side of the dike attracts many Warbling Vireos, and lots of Palm Warblers. The beach provides another insight to the value of small green spaces associated with larger ones. Not all areas are treated the same but have different values for different reasons and in this case for different species. Lake Erie has removed some 35 yards or more since we started operating 5 mist nets on the beach 10 years ago. This year we could only fit a 6 meter net in one of the locations because easterly winds have pounded the ridge and have removed over half of sand and trees. Standard mist net length is 12 meters long.

Take time to enjoy nature

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celebrating the good things...

Another slow day so we have to celebrate the good things. A total of 21 birds and four recaptures. Top two species are Swainson’s Thrush and American Robin with three birds each. The Swainson’s Thrushes are increasing in numbers slowly. Easterly winds are not good here but the Magee Bird Trail has had birds on easterly winds already this fall. Highlights for the day are an American Woodcock, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a beautiful Black-and White Warbler. Sorry no pictures the camera batteries were dead.

Enjoy the season,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Southerly winds are not helping...

Southerly winds again today produced a low banding total for the day. A nice summer day it was! There were a few migrants around and there were some Tree Swallows migrating today. Twenty birds were the catch plus 4 recaptures. This included a Magnolia Warbler and a Veery that were banded yesterday. Birds are trickling down but not in any numbers to speak of from the Navarre Marsh perspective.

A new warbler species for the fall season: Nashville Warbler.

It stumped a couple of the volunteers. They noticed the eye ring but wanted to call it a Common Yellowthroat or a Connecticut. It was a paler bird but still had the distinctive eye ring. This bird was a hatching year male. It did have a tiny bit of rust feathers on its head. The head marking is not an easy field mark to see in any season.

It looks like maybe Wednesday night a weak cold front will be coming through. We can only hope for rain and some northerly winds. The rain can stop by morning.

Top four species
Warbling Vireo - 6
House Wren - 3
Canada Warbler - 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 2

Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Quiet in the marsh today...

Today was a southerly wind and it was very quiet in the marsh today. It must be because it is Labor Day! As I said before birds do not look at the calendar for their activities. Twenty-two birds graced us for the day including 3 recaptures. We still are maintaining seven species for warblers a day.

We did add a new species for the fall: Bay-breasted Warbler. I would ask you to study the picture because it may come back as a quiz bird at a later date. As my volunteers know I am the Quiz Queen. They may have other names for me I suppose. It keeps them on their toes. The other highlight for the day was a hatching year Ruby-throated hummingbird with its streaked throat. I saw one earlier this morning trying to find nectar from any flower it could. It has been so dry the plants are drying up. This is a good reason to plant and water nectar flowers for the migrating hummingbirds.

Top four species banded
Gray Catbird - 4
Common Grackle - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 3
American Robin - 2

It is forecasted to remain in the high eighties and low nineties for the next few days so I do not expect much migration southward.

Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fall migration is exciting...

I am still excited about fall migration season. The first Swainson’s Thrush for the season added to the other 34 birds we captured for the day. Fourteen species tallied including six warbler species. Three recaptures rounded out the day.

It was a run on Eastern Phoebes on the beach. Four immature phoebes with their loose feathers that make them look silly.

Top four species banded
Gray Catbird - 8
Magnolia Warbler - 7
Common Yellowthroat - 6
Eastern Phoebe - 4

The highlight for the day was an adult male Mourning Warbler. It was processed and out the door before I could get his picture! Some days you have to enjoy the brief good moments before they are gone!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fouteen species made up the catch...

This day made me begin to get excited about fall migration season. Birds picked up today with a calm morning to allow for some migrants to drop in. It's not much but a 36 bird day after less than double digits for a day seemed like things were looking up. Fourteen species made up the catch including five recaptures. Seven warblers were captured today (Black-throated Blue, Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Wilson’s, and Mourning). Yes, I realize the best warbler has been seen on the Magee Bird Trail but I have yet to see one Blackburnian. I am glad others are getting to enjoy the birds. Yes, they are seeing multiples of Blackburnians. My time will come.

One of the attractive warblers in fall is the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Their basic plumage is quite beautiful or handsome depending on what sex it is. Even if you cannot see any chestnut on its sides see if you can see the upper tail coverts. The males will have very distinct black centers to the upper tail coverts. You are already gazing at the bird to identify it, why not see if you can tell what sex it is? Challenge yourself!

Another challenge is the Baltimore Orioles at this time of year. Unless you look closely you may be calling the Baltimores you see- females. Well, the immatures look female-like—Hmmm what would be the advantage of that? Survival tactic, it is best to blend in. If you look at these photos can you tell which is an adult female, immature hatching year male, and an unknown immature (hatching year)?

You can actually tell by just looking at the heads of these birds. First look at the beak color. An adult Baltimore will have a slate gray bill with the upper mandible being slightly darker than the lower. The bill looks that way on an adult male too but who looks at the bill with the brightly colored black and orange bird? The immatures have a lower mandible that is not gray but flesh to pinkish color more so towards the base of the bill. The bill has not matured or reached its hardened state. By spring the bill will not be a characteristic to use for aging but it works in the fall at this time and latitude. This bill coloration difference occurs in many if not most of immatures of the same species. It is very apparent with adult and immatures of Yellow Warblers. Okay back to these pictures. The immature pictures you will see some black coming in on the face of one. That bird you can sex as male. The other one has to go as unknown at this time. I always make notes because there are some that I really think could be females because of their pale coloration even at this date. A few of these birds will return to this site next spring and can be compared with my notes and what the bird is in its alternate plumage. Unfortunately not many come back to this same exact location for much of a sample size to amount to anything but anecdotal information. Wing chord length does not help because of the great overlap in measurements of both sexes.

All sorts of things to ponder… Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I wonder why I get up so early?

Another very slow week, some days I wonder why I get up so early to catch a handful of birds. Wednesday was especially a yawner with a total of 5 birds for the day. Birds do not look at the calendar so they migrate when the conditions are right. This week the winds were predominantly out of the East and Southeast so not much migration occurred here. It did give us time to really study the birds we did catch.

August fall songbird migration encompasses the southward movement of flycatchers, Yellow, Canada, and Prothonotary Warblers. These species will not be around by mid-September when the higher diversity of warblers will be in the marsh region.

For the week, 61 new birds were banded. Another 12 recaptures can be added to the total capture for the week. Twenty-three species including 7 species of warblers were caught in the mist nets. The warbler species were: Wilson’s, Magnolia, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Blue. Eastern Wood Pewee, Traill’s Flycatcher, and Eastern Phoebe comprise the flycatcher guild for the week. Veeries made an appearance and were the second highest species caught for the week with six individuals captured. Gray catbird was the big catch with sixteen birds netted.

Highlights for the week were the American Woodcock and an Eastern Screech Owl. The woodcock was a male with its narrow outer primaries and shorter bill than the female. The owl appeared to be the runt of the clutch with a high percentage of its juvenile plumage still remaining at this late date.

Black-throated Blue Warbler males are one of the few that do not have a different basic plumage for immatures and adults. This is a hatching year (immature) male with its green edged primary coverts and alula.

The female is also a hatching year bird above and has no white on the wing. I have seen some hatching year females with some white at the base of the primaries making up the wing patch.

Take time to enjoy the season,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fall Migration has started...

The start of fall migration songbird monitoring is slow. No more than 15 birds captured a day for on average of six hours with 21 nets. The winds have been out of the Southwest or East which is not the best for fall migration here along the lake where the Navarre ridge juts out into Lake Erie toward the East.

Though the winds are from the wrong direction, we have managed to capture a couple migrant birds each day. For the five days of operation we banded 75 birds including 23 species. Seven warbler species were banded (Yellow, Magnolia, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada).

The first basic American Redstart males we are seeing look like females. The feathers in the axillaries are brighter orange contrasting with the surrounding lemon yellow under the wings. Females have all lemon yellow feathers in the axillaries and under the wing. Adult American Redstarts are easy to identify since they are black and orange.

We have caught a couple immature Yellow-shafted flickers (Northern Flicker). One we captured had its prebasic breast feathers growing in. Notice the juvenile feathers are loose textured and the newly growing ones are more structured.

Looking forward to more fall like winds to help the birds move south.
Enjoy the early season!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Unusual Catch-Mourning Dove

Another light southwest wind made the lake quite calm and peaceful if I might say so myself. I was surprised that the boaters were not out on the lake. They lost out on a beautiful day. Back to the birds. Today’s catch included 107 new banded birds of 21 species with an additional 27 recaptures. Eleven warblers graced us with their presence Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Nashville, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Cape May, Black and White, and Tennessee. Once again thrushes and catbirds were the main birds again. We did capture the adult male Mourning Warbler again. He is always a handsome sight to see!
Highlights for the day are the two Red-breasted Nuthatches that were taunting me high up in the Hackberry trees and the first Brown Creeper and White-throated Sparrow for the fall season. Southerly winds still had a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher hanging around and of course another great bird today was a Blackburnian Warbler!
Species and Number Banded
Blackpoll Warbler - 22
Swainson’s Thrush -21
Gray-cheeked Thrush -17
Gray Catbird -14
Common Yellowthroat - 9

An unusual catch was a Mourning Dove. They may fly into the net but the small mesh size keeps them from getting caught. The net mesh size is 30 mm which is for warbler sized birds. This dove was an adult female. It has obvious molt limit (last year’s feathers or more than one generation of feathers) and no iridescence on the head.
Today is a great day for quizzes. Here is a Black and White Warbler we captured today. Can you tell me what age and sex this bird is?

Enjoy one more Quiz Bird!

P.S. Black and White Warbler is a Hatching Year Male—gray face with distinct black stripes on the flanks. Females have blurry streaks on the flanks. Adult males have black cheek patches with distinct black striping on flanks.
The other quiz bird is a female Cape May Warbler—remember the fine streaks on the chest and the fine bill.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

West Sister Island...

The annual trek out to West Sister Island National Wilderness Area (WSI) with the Ottawa NWR crew and Ohio Division of Wildlife was successful in banding five species of colonial nesting birds. This 80 acre (approx.) island is the breeding place for 40% of all the herons and egrets nesting in the U.S. Great Lakes. The island is very significant for these populations making it one of the reasons it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge system. The scene almost looks like the Caribbean with the azure water….

Historically the island was a practice site for aerial military strikes during WWII. However, it has since seen the lighthouse run by a keeper up until 1960’s where it then became automated. The lightkeeper raised rabbits and goats and kept the SW end of the island grazed. When the lighthouse became automated the vegetation was allowed to revert to the Hackberry and Kentucky Coffeetree stand similar to the north and east end of the island.

I have been visiting WSI for 20 years and it hasn’t been until the last 12 that the trees on the SW end began to grow too big and tall for the Black-crowned Night-Herons. From earlier habitat nesting surveys conducted by the state wildlife agency, well before my time on the island, it was recognized that the night-herons used the shorter less than 15 foot trees in which to build their nests. Almost 10 years ago the USFWS and Ohio Division of Wildlife went through the process of public review for managing part of the island for Black-crowned Night-Herons. The species is a federally designated species of concern. After the process was supported, 4 acres have been cut at waist height over the past 9 years in the historical nesting locations on the island. After 2 years there was significant use of the cut area with the birds using the base of the cut stump as a nesting platform. In 2008, I was again pleased to see a larger number of night-herons using the old cut area. The trees in the cut are getting in the 15-20 foot range. It causes the banding crew to use a ladder to reach the nests to band the young.

Kim Kaufman is preparing to band night-herons
at the nest in the cut area.

Interesting enough the night-herons as other egrets and herons are very sensitive to disturbance during the incubation period. This night-heron must have been close to hatching and she stuck tight on the nest for quite a while before quietly exiting. It is a rare occasion that you get to see a night-heron on its nest.

The banding crew handled 5 species of colonial waterbirds including Herring Gull, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Great Egret. Sixty-eight birds total were banded. Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants nest on the Island as well but are not accessible by ladder.

This is a photo of 4 little whites (Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets-are all small white birds). This picture shows 3 Snowy Egrets with a Cattle Egret chick second from the right with the mostly yellow bill and shorter neck. Little Blue Herons are known to nest on the island and all little whites usually nest colonially together making the identification not so easy. However, many years ago while at a regional bird banding meeting in southern state, I met up with a bander who bands a lot of Little Blues. He said little blues have dark gray trailing edge of the secondary feathers. For Cattle Egrets and Snowies, it is a little more difficult. Cattle Egrets have shorter necks and from what I can tell have shorter and stouter legs (fatter legs). At first I thought all of these were Snowies, but in my head when banding something wasn’t quite equal with all of them and I remembered the band number on the one that wasn’t like the others (that is hard to believe I am sure but it is the way it happened). So after looking at the picture and getting a second opinion, the Cattle Egret was weeded out of the mix.

For the past two years the weather and bugs on the island have been tolerable. It has been very hot, humid, with a host of mosquitoes and stable flies to escort you around the island. I probably just jinxed myself.

There is always something to be amazed out in nature. This is the only place I have seen Poison Ivy Trees with trunks 3-4 inches in diameter and free standing. A sight no one believes until they see it. Some think by looking at the plant whey will contract the itch.

Enjoy Summer!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Acadian Flycatcher, today's highlight...

Quiz bird answer for June 6th in the spring blog is female Nashville Warbler for those of you waiting in anticipation for the answer.

Today forces were split up between two Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (M.A.P.S.) breeding bird sites (Oak Openings-Ostrich Lane and the Navarre site). The Navarre MAPS site includes 10 nets in similar habitat as the migration site but located 100 yards north. The Ostrich Lane site is located on Metroparks of the Toledo Area. The Observatory has a great relationship with those fine people. We have 16 nets where 4 nets are stationed in four different managed habitats which are Oak Savanna- understory with sparse trees, Forest with understory-control area, grassland dune area, and early successional area. Nets were run for 6 hours and numbers of birds were very similar with Navarre capturing 23 new and 7 recaptures and Ostrich Lane capturing 19 new birds and 7 recaptures.

Blue-winged Warbler

Highlights of the Navarre MAPS station was an Acadian Flycatcher and a molting Northern Waterthrush. The waterthrush is inevitably not going to breed this year. It had already begun its symmetrical wing molt which is done in adults after the breeding season is over. For some reason it will not breed this year.

Blue Grosbeak female

Highlights of the Ostrich Lane site were a female Scarlet Tanager, male Blue-winged Warbler, and a female Blue Grosbeak! She was beautiful! For a female with her chestnut head and blue rump and wings, she outshined the male because he did not show his face. She was nice-looking regardless of that fact. The male sang in the savanna habitat which was where the female was captured. Hmmm… not typical habitat to find a Blue Grosbeak. There was another pair at the south end of the banding site too. Their populations must be increasing or at least at this site. The female was a second-year bird and may possibly been an offspring of the birds seen in the area last year. We did capture a female in the early successional area last year.

The weather is great to get out and learn some bird songs so take the opportunity to expand your song repertoire!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cuckoos are late spring migrants...

The last day of the official season and it was a great ending. See what you think: While putting up the nets, an Eastern Screech Owl flew into the net. Other highlights included the elusive Yellow-billed Cuckoo and another American Woodcock! We also captured a Black and White Warbler female with a brood patch. We have had a pair Black and White Warblers nesting on the ridge most years. For 5.5 hours of net operation we captured 18 new birds and 15 recaptures which included 12 species of birds.

Top 3 banded birds:
Traill’s Flycatcher - 3
Baltimore Oriole - 3
Indigo Bunting - 3

Owls have modified feathers of the leading edge of their wing
which lack barbules that hold the feather. See photo:

This feather adaptation allows for the birds
to fly silent at night.

Cuckoos are late spring migrants. Enjoy this Yellow-billed Cuckoo! Remember the wings on the YBCU are rusty colored contrasting with its gray back. This characteristic makes for easy ID when the bird is flying.

Have a great summer and if I have any news about summer banding I will post it here. Take time to help with the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas if you have not put in some time. It is a worthwhile project.

Bone up on your fall warblers they will be here sooner than later.