Wednesday, April 30, 2008

White-throated Sparrows recatured...

It was a good day for Myrtle Warblers and recaptures. With the winds out of the northwest the birds did not move north from the beach ridge. Fifty recaptures with the majority being were White-throated Sparrows.

Total new banded birds for the day were 130 in 6.75 hours with 7 species of warbler plus the banded Kentucky Warbler was still around. There are still many Myrtle Warblers in the area on the Navarre beach ridge. It has been one of the biggest Aprils we have seen in a long time. We are just shy of 2,000 birds banded for the month of April.

Highlights for the day were a Sharp-shinned Hawk and the recaptured Kentucky Warbler.
Forces were split up again for a banding demonstration at the Observatory to share BSBO’s research information with the local school children. Showing them what neat critters they have in their backyard is like money in the bank. It can only grow with enthusiasm and interest which will translate into conservation in the future.

Carroll Elementary School children enjoying the birds

Top 7 bird species:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 70
White-throated Sparrow - 19
Western Palm Warbler - 7
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 6
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Swamp Sparrow - 3
Northern Cardinal - 3

Enjoy Spring!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Birds did not leave last night...

North winds slowed down the birds and held them in place for today. It was obvious with the number of recaptures (41) we had. We did have a couple returning old Yellow Warblers that were at least 3-5 years old. I have not checked the band series for an exact date. An old Gray Catbird returned today with a band series that indicated that it was at least 3 years old. The Worm-eating Warbler from yesterday was still around today.

A total of 164 new birds were banded today giving us 23 species. Ten species of warbler were caught today including two Orange-crowned Warblers and a Magnolia Warbler. Stay tuned the Magnolias will be here in full force in about10 days.

Top 5 Species for the day:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 77
White –throated Sparrow - 24
Western Palm Warbler - 15
Swamp Sparrow - 6
Yellow Warbler - 6

Yellow-throated Vireo

Enjoy Spring!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kentucjy Warbler was the highlight...

It was a drizzly morning and the birds were everywhere in the bushes at Navarre. White-throated Sparrows were singing their hearts out at dawn and then about an hour after sunrise the warblers were very active despite the precipitation. The birds kept us hopping today with 273 birds with 25 recaptures in 5.25 hours. The rain shut us down at 11:30 AM or so but the birds were still moving around the station.

The number one bird remained Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped) with 165 new birds banded and we had a total of 25 species banded today.

Highlights for the day were Kentucky Warbler and another Worm-eating Warbler. Today’s Myrtle count was the highest number of Myrtle Warblers we have had in several years. With the weather we have been having the past couple of days the birds are kept low and on the beach ridge.

On a side note, in a past blog I mentioned the large movements of Blue Jays I had in Navarre last week and I was sent a question about my comments regarding the Blue Jays not crossing the lake referencing the Ohio birds listserv post from South Bass Island. Some species like Turkey Vultures will cross the lake using the islands as stepping stones. The same would be true for diurnal migrants such as Blue Jays. We know that the islands are good stopover sites for migrant songbirds. So to say no birds will cross the lake is not totally correct, I meant to say they don’t prefer to cross the lake and when they do and daylight occurs those migrants will come down and stop on the islands. The islands are very important to many migratory bird species.

Top 5 species:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 165
Western Palm Warbler - 32
White-throated Sparrow - 24
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 8
Yellow Warbler - 8

Warbler species captured: Black-and-white, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Myrtle, Nashville, Western Palm, Yellow, Kentucky, Worm-eating Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird.

Thrushes captured: American Robin, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, and Swainson’s Thrush.

Kentucky Warbler was my favorite of the day.

Enjoy Spring!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nine species of warblers were caught today...

Today's efforts were split between the North Coast Nature Festival in North Olmsted and Navarre Marsh. Julie West and I conducted an educational banding demonstration at the Rocky River Nature Center. We had a good day of 59 new banded birds and 4 previously banded Downy Woodpeckers. Three of them were banded last year at festival time and one was two years ago at this time. The highlight in my opinion were the two Northern Rough-winged Swallows. They had been swooping around overhead the day before and today. They were caught in the mist nets by the river near the feeders. We also had great comparisons for Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers since we caught both at the same time.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

As far as Navarre, it too had a terrific day to follow yesterday’s great day. Not as much species diversity but numbers were 287 new banded birds and 16 recaptures in 7 hours of net operation. Thankfully the winds held out and the banded White-throated Sparrows left the ridge.

Nine species of warblers were caught today which are included in the 26 species banded. Three species of vireos made an appearance; White-eyed, Blue-headed, and Red-eyed.

A returning Common Yellowthroat was captured today. It looks like it was a bird banded from last year. It made a return appearance to the banding station.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats nest in the marsh and we do catch a dozen or so returning in the spring. The miles these birds travel is amazing to me!

Top 10 Species were:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 174
Western Palm Warbler - 50
White-throated Sparrow - 17
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 7
Nashville Warbler - 3
Yellow Warbler - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Northern Waterthrush - 3
Gray Catbird - 3
Northern Cardinal - 3

One of our recaptures was a Worm-eating Warbler caught yesterday.

A pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers The male has the black line (supercilium) above the eye.

Spring is such a fascinating time of year!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Songbirds everywhere...

BIG day for songbirds today! The first wave of songbirds is definitely here! White-throated Sparrows were walking and hopping all over the beach ridge today! Winds were out of the southwest and it sprinkled off and on until 10:00 AM. I have definitely seen my share of White-throated Sparrows.

Today we also had the pleasure of a visit from the Audubon Ohio Board of Directors. Jerry Tinianow and crew received a warm welcome from 17 species of warblers plus one hybrid and a total of 36 species of new banded birds for the day.

Two hundred and sixty one newly banded birds for the day with an additional 12 birds recaptured in 5.75 hours of net operation. Four out of the five brown thrushes were caught with Gray-cheeked missing for the day.

Top 7 Species were:
White-throated Sparrow - 121
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 30
Yellow Warbler - 14
Western Palm Warbler - 10
Swamp Sparrow - 8
Swainson’s Thrush - 8
Hermit Thrush - 8

Audubon Ohio Group in Navarre

One of the highlight warblers was a Prairie Warbler male. It has been a few years since we have caught this species as an over flight warbler of the first wave.

Enjoy Spring!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blue Jays will cross water...

A GREAT Day for early songbird migration! The warm front went through early this morning turning the winds from the south. White-throated Sparrows were singing loudly at sunrise. Blue Jays were migrating early afternoon today in large flocks. They are a great example of birds not willing to cross large bodies of water. They flew east down the ridge hit the lake and then flew back to the west again. Hawks were buzzing around every once in a while scaring the Red-wings and Tree Swallows as evidenced by their alarm calls.

A total of 195 new birds with 10 recaptures for the day in 5.75 hours. Eighteen species of birds were banded with the highlights being a male Whip-poor-will and two Blue-headed Vireos.
The banding station was visited by a group of women from the First Energy Women in Nuclear (FEWIN) organization. They were very enthusiastic about what the beach ridge and marsh property held for birds in the region during migration.

Top 8 species for the day are:
White-throated Sparrow - 80
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 59
Western Palm Warbler - 13
Hermit Thrush - 9
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 7
Swamp Sparrow -5
Black-throated Green Warbler - 4
Northern Waterthrush - 4

Cryptic coloration of the Whip-poor-will Note the long rictal bristles (whiskers) and large fleshy mouth to gather insects in flight at night. The male has white outer tail spots and the female has tan outer tail spots.

First male Common Yellowthroat of the spring!

Enjoy Spring!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Winter Wren still singing...

The winds were out of the east today so birds moved off the beach ridge inland. It was pretty quiet as far as bird songs. A male Winter Wren was still singing his heart out this morning however. A White-eyed Vireo was singing too. Fifty-two new birds banded with seven recaptures in 5.75 hours. Three species of warbler were captured today; Black-throated Green and Myrtle with a recaptured Northern Waterthrush from yesterday.
Top 4 species banded:
White-throated Sparrow - 18
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 8
House Wren - 7
Northern Cardinal - 4

One of the last Winter Wrens for the spring

Male Second-Year Downy Woodpecker - note the primary
coverts are brown versus other black primaries.

As always, enjoy Spring!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Long-eared Owl flushed...

The overnight winds were out of the SSW so the morning was pretty decent with the wind shifting to the east off the lake for our site by 10:00 AM.

We had a pretty neat sighting today. While putting up the nets this morning I flushed a Long-eared Owl! It flew around and landed near one of the nets but soon flew when I came up to the net to raise it. It was a gorgeous bird! And you don’t know how bad I was hoping when it took off and flew back towards the other nets that were open that it would fly into one of the nets---but no luck there! It was still a neat experience.

A male Whip-poor-will was also seen bouncing off a net early. A Blue-headed Vireo was heard but a White-eyed Vireo was all we caught in the vireo family. Early in the morning over 400 Blue Jays passed over while I was conducting the point count. They of course do not like to cross open water so they would fly to the lake and turn around and go the other way. It was interesting that Lee Garling, Hawk watcher for BSBO on the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area Hawk Tower did not see any Blue Jay movement.

For the day we banded 128 new birds and 5 recaptures. There was 23 species included in those birds captured. Seven warbler species were captured; Black-throated Green, Nashville, Western Palm, Yellow, Myrtle, Pine Warblers, and Northern Waterthrush. Five species of sparrows including Lincoln’s, Swamp, Song, White-throated, and Eastern Towhee were caught today. Another first for the year was a Swainson’s Thrush mixed in with the Hermit Thrushes.

Top 6 Species were:
White-throated Sparrow - 35
Myrtle Warbler - 26
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 16
Hermit Thrush -10
House Wren - 7
Western Palm Warbler - 4

Female Second Year Pine Warbler

Lincoln Sparrow – note its beautiful tan chest markings
which distinguish it from Melospiza sparrows.

Enjoy spring!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Banner day for Northern Cardinals...

April As I had thought it would be, today was a slow day with the wind out of the north and east. 41 birds were captured in the mist nets. The cooler temperatures most likely pushed the birds that were here a little further inland for a day or two.

Thirty new banded birds and 11 recaptures were handled today. One of the recaptures was an old Song Sparrow. The Song Sparrow was banded on April 12, 2002 as an adult bird, therefore it is at least seven years old!

It was a banner day for Northern Cardinals capturing 5 new ones and two banded ones. Their big orange beaks tried all they could to draw red blood! Western Palm Warbler was the only warbler caught. Myrtle Warblers were heard and seen but not captured in the nets. This further supports the importance of multi-layers of data collection. Point count and bird list are the other layers to compliment the banding data.

Top six species for the day were:
White-throated Sparrow - 6
Northern Cardinal - 5
Hermit Thrush - 3
Winter Wren - 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 3

Highlights for the day were a male Sharp-shinned Hawk and Eastern Towhee.

This Eastern Towhee was an SY-Second Year Male - note the brown abraded primary coverts. The eye color was an orange-red color as opposed to the adult males which would have a ruby red eye color.

Volunteer bander Nancy Howell takes measurements and bands the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Tomorrow looks similar weather wise as today.

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Myrtle Warbler on top five list...

Misty morning with a light southerly breeze (5-10 mph) caused the Myrtle Warblers to stay down low which enabling us to capture 30 of them today.

An ornithology class from Wittenberg University joined us for the morning. The students were treated to 19 different species. We captured 4 species (Blue-winged Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Northern Parula, and Palm Warbler - read on >) and after the group left we caught a Yellow Palm Warbler which is an over flight warbler often caught the latter part of April if seen or caught at all in Ohio.

The Yellow Palm Warbler is the east coast race of the Palm Warbler. In Ohio, the Western Palm Warbler is common and has a tan or washed out chest. Today we caught a male Palm Warbler but I believe it was definitely not a “Yellow” because its chest was not as brilliant as I have seen on male Yellow Palm Warblers on the east coast. I am not 100% convinced but our master bander, Mark Shieldcastle, is convinced it is a Yellow Palm Warbler so I will leave it to the person who reports it to the Bird Banding Laboratory.

Below you will find photos of this bird, so you decide for yourself. It definitely is “yellower” on the chest than any Western Palm Warbler I have seen and I imagine there are intergrades in the population.

The coolest bird (okay it is hard for me to determine the best bird of any day unless it is a Blackburnian Warbler!) was a Northern Parula. It was a beautiful male! Check this bird out:

The male has a rusty necklace whereas the female does not have this trait. Characteristic of the Northern Parula is the green triangle on its back. Also note the parula has a bi-colored beak which is a unique feature.

For the day’s capture of new birds we caught 19 species of 78 individuals and 16 recaptures (recaptures are birds previously banded). We caught several banded White-throated Sparrows today.

Below you will find the top five species:
Myrtle Warbler - 30
White-throated Sparrow - 12
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 5
Red-winged Blackbird - 4

Additional species include: Winter Wren, Fox Sparrow, Brown Creeper, Brown Thrasher, Tree Swallow, and Northern Cardinal.

The winds turned off the lake about 10:30 AM and the air turned cooler. The prediction for tomorrow from is for lake winds so I believe it will be a slower day. It is early in the spring so we cannot be wishing for knockdown drag out busy days because then the spring would be over too soon!

Enjoy the days as they come!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blue Jays are diurnal migrants...

This is the first official day of the blog but the sixth day of banding at the Navarre Marsh Passerine Migration Monitoring Station for the spring season. We have been running this project everyday for 19 years during the season weather permitting. Several early short distance migrants are bringing up the tail end of their appearance here (Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Phoebe, Song Sparrow). Many warbler species (over 14) have been seen in the Lake Erie Marsh Region. The Navarre station has only recorded 7 species with 4 of them banded ( Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped), Common Yellowthroat, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Western Palm Warbler). Those warbler species heard were Yellow Warbler, Pine Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler.

Banding protocol is to take each species down to its lowest denominator. Yellow-rumped Warbler is a lumping of the two races of Audubon’s Warbler which is found normally west of the Mississippi River and Myrtle Warbler which is the eastern race. To monitor if these races will merge west or east, it is important to keep detailed records of the races. Another example is the Blue and White morph of the Snow Goose. In keeping records of these different races we can document climate change in their northern breeding ranges. Blue Snow Goose is moving northward. Snow covered tundra is receding north favoring a darker bird to nest on the tundra. Much can be learned about species by keeping the details.

There have been several days of southerly winds but they have been dominated by two strong high pressure systems. A strong passerine migration for Ohio is when the low pressure system moves across the country hits the Oklahoma/ Arkansas region and moves up the Ohio River Valley. This front's movement will bring warm temps and warm winds from the Gulf of Mexico. We have had years where high pressure systems sit on top of Ohio and make a good sunny day but make a very poor day for bird migration through northern Ohio. Migration is weather dependent. Where the fronts are located determines a good or bad migration.

Today’s top six species:
(43 new banded birds with 12 recaptures)
White-throated Sparrow - 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 9
Hermit Thrush - 9
Slate-colored Junco (Dark-eyed Junco) - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Northern Cardinal - 2

A female Common Yellowthroat was a big surprise today. We had not heard or seen any male Common Yellowthroats. This female must have not left the United States over the winter.

Even though Northern Cardinals are resident and non-migratory we captured this brilliant colored female. The bright red orange color underneath her wings was quite striking. Note the orange beak, most folks don’t think their beak is orange.
We caught our first Blue Jay for the year. There were a few migrating yesterday and today. Blue Jays are diurnal migrants and can be seen migrating in large numbers in May.

This bird is an After-second year Blue Jay which means it is at least in its third year of life. Birds get a new birthday every January 1st. The primary coverts on the wing are bright blue with black barring. A second year bird would have duller blue primary coverts and no barring. Second year birds were hatched last summer. They are in their second year of life.

Here is the After-second year (ASY) wing

Enjoy the Day!