Saturday, May 31, 2008

Birds must have continued north...

Strong storms and winds out of the southwest all night gave us hope that maybe today the bird numbers would improve. We had a nice variety of birds to show the Wild Birds Unlimited group visiting the station as well as for the public banding demonstration at the Observatory.

From the numbers captured today it looks like the birds may have continued on north in the strong southwest winds overnight. There are still very few thrushes and Red-eyed Vireos for an average spring. I will have to check with other banding stations to see if they are getting the birds east or west of here. Today produced 126 new birds with 22 recaptures including 32 species in 7.5 hours of net operation. Twelve warblers and one hybrid were captured with 16 warbler species seen and/or heard.

While I was at the last net putting away a bird I had extracted, a beautiful Brewster’s Warbler (Golden-wing X Blue-Wing) flew into the net right next to me. It was about a foot away from me and I could see out of the corner of my eye the net bow out. And behold, it was a Brewster’s in the net!

Brewster's Warbler

Not only did we have that great catch but a female Hooded Warbler and couple Great Crested Flycatcher graced us with their presence.

Hooded Warbler, female

Top 6 birds banded:
Traill’s Flycatcher - 44
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 28
Wilson’s Warbler -7
Mourning Warbler -6
Eastern Wood Pewee -5
Red-eyed Vireo -5

Sand is the substrate the banding station is located on and this morning it looked like a war zone. Last night was the first real warm night making optimum conditions for turtles to lay their eggs. However, the raccoons are also in tune with this annual ritual and had dug up a lot of the nests. Along with the many Snapping Turtles out and about today, we were greeted on the trail by a Blanding’s Turtle. It is always a pleasure to see them since they are endemic to the marsh region. It was a medium size one with a carapace dimension of about 6 inches by 10 inches. There is always something outside to explore!

Get out and enjoy Spring!

Friday, May 30, 2008

As you can see the flycatchers are here!!

The winds were out of the southwest so I was in great anticipation of a last push of late spring migrants today. It did not turn out to be as big of a day as I had thought. One hundred and eighty-one new birds with 27 recaptures were caught in 7.5 hours of net operation. Most birds that had been hanging around appeared to have left. There is still a large number of warbler species for this time of year counting 14 warblers captured and 17 warblers seen and/or heard.

Highlights for the day included another Olive-sided Flycatcher, Lincoln Sparrow, female Connecticut Warbler, female Purple Finch, female Blackburnian Warbler!, and several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The females are bringing up the grand finale…

Blackburnian Warbler, female

As you can see the flycatchers are here!!

Top 6 birds banded:
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 36
Traill’s Flycatcher - 27
Red-eyed Vireo - 19
Mourning Warbler - 12
Magnolia Warbler - 11
Swainson’s Thrush - 9

Mourning Warbler, female

The female Mourning Warbler has a gray head and has a split eye-ring which can sometimes be confused with a Connecticut Warbler. Some older female Mourning Warblers have the split eye-ring more defined and can confuse some. As I have said before if it is not a bright complete eye ring then it is a Mourning Warbler.

Enjoy Spring!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Still a beautiful day...

So did you guess the quiz bird from yesterday?! It is a female Bay-breasted Warbler. She is still gorgeous in her realm of Bay-breasted Warblers.

Well one would have thought when the winds died down and were not from the northeast that the birds would be around. Not the case today at the migration monitoring station in Navarre. Not much in numbers but it was still a beautiful day with 85 new banded birds and 37 recaptures. We captured twelve warbler species with 18 species seen/heard. There has been a Black-throated Blue Warbler singing in the same location for over a week. We may get lucky and have a pair stick around for the summer. Thirty species of birds were banded with the highlights being a Connecticut Warbler (for Dave) (however he said since it was a female it does not count; he wants to see a male!—guess it takes a lot to satisfy my volunteers), White-throated Sparrow, and a nice looking Cedar Waxwing.

A little influx of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers today but the Gray Catbirds still won out for the top bird of the day! I would still look forward to good bird days tomorrow and Saturday. You may have to look for them amongst the leaves. This helps you to fine tune your eyesight and your hearing!
Top 6 species banded:
Gray Catbird - 10
Traill’s Flycatcher - 9
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 9
Canada Warbler - 8
Common Yellowthroat - 8
Red-winged Blackbird - 5

Check out this nice looking female Red-winged Blackbird!

We can only age to After-second Year but I think she is very old with all this color on her face and epaulets (lesser coverts).

Enjoy Spring!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Waiting on the winds to turn...

Northeasterly winds again at 15 mph do not make for much bird movement into the site. We are waiting on the winds to turn to the south for the second pulse of the last wave to occur here. It only seems like last week it was early spring. Time flies when the birds are moving. It looks like Friday and Saturday will be the days for the second pulse to hit up here.

A little over 6 hours produced 100 new banded birds with 29 recaptures. This included 23 species with 12 species of warbler being caught. Sixteen warblers were heard at the station with one being a Connecticut Warbler which was on the wish list for bird of capture today but it did not happen. Maybe it will occur tomorrow for my great volunteer Dave. Highlights for the day were an Eastern Kingbird and a couple Philadelphia Vireos.

Top 7 species banded:
Traill’s Flycatcher - 25
Wilson’s Warbler - 15
Yellow Warbler - 8
Canada Warbler - 7
Common Yellowthroat - 7
Gray Catbird - 6
Red-eyed Vireo - 5

Another quiz bird to keep you all on your toes!

Many do not see the red on the head of the Eastern Kingbird

There is always something to learn in nature. Enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Season record today...

As predicted the weatherperson did get it right today! We should give them a bonus. The winds were out of the southwest and it did pour early this morning delaying the opening of nets. Regardless of the rain we ran the nets for seven hours to capture our season record of 396 new birds and 25 recaptures. We caught one banded Myrtle Warbler and that was it for the Myrtle Warbler representatives today. Thirty-seven species were banded today including 15 warbler species. Twenty-one species of warbler were heard or seen on the site for the day. The southwest winds did bring in the third wave of birds-just look at the top species and that will define it: flycatchers and vireos.

I started out enjoying trying to key out those Traill’s flycatchers today. I tried to get some Willow or Alder’s to key out but after about 50 of them I was going bug-eyed. We banded 98 of those Traill’s flycatchers!!! As some said today maybe tomorrow you’ll get 100 of them! I say Yippee!

We had visitors from Mexico with Jill and Dave Russell. They always pick a good day to visit the station. They were awed by the Indigo Buntings because they never get to see them in their breeding or alternate plumage.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Highlights for the day include 4 Connecticut Warblers, 4 Philadelphia Vireos, Traill’s Flycatchers!, 4 Acadian Flycatchers, Mourning Warblers, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Black-billed Cuckoo. Tomorrow should be good even though the winds are to shift by early morning to the northwest. We will probably catch a lot of banded Traill’s flycatchers and some of the other neat birds too, I am sure.

We caught 3 female Connecticut Warblers and one male. Here is one of the females. She has a brown head with a bold eye ring.

Top 10 species:
Traill’s Flycatcher - 98
Red-eyed Vireo - 32
Canada Warbler - 31
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 24
American Redstart - 23
Blackpoll Warbler - 19
Wilson’s Warbler - 18
Eastern Wood Pewee - 18
Mourning Warbler - 17
Common Yellowthroat - 13

Hope you are enjoying spring!
Get out before it is gone!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A very beautiful day to be outside...

There was relatively no wind today. The Davis Besse steam stack was going straight up when we arrived to put the nets up. A very beautiful day to be outside! A light southerly breeze as we left the marsh after a little over seven hours of nets open. Today produced 156 new banded birds with 45 recaptures. We have caught a foreign Magnolia Warbler. From the band series it is one that has been put on this year. We have the same band series for this year. That is why I am certain that it is not an “old” banded bird. Most likely it will not be in the Bird Banding Lab computer since it is a recent banding. Eighteen species of warblers captured with 21 species seen.

Connecticut Warbler

Highlights for the day were another Northern Parula which is a total of 20 for the spring which is the highest number we have ever caught in a spring season, Connecticut Warbler, and a Philadelphia Vireo. More Red-eyed Vireos, Canada Warblers, and American Redstarts are showing up which indicates the third wave is about to peak.

Top 7 species:
Magnolia Warbler - 22
American Redstart - 15
Red-winged Blackbird - 15
Common Yellowthroat - 12
Wilson’s Warbler - 8
Gray Catbird - 8
Canada Warbler - 8

A couple attractive female warblers who do not always get a second look:

Blackpoll Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Hope you all get outside tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marsh Region still jumping with birds...

At some point last night the wind shifted out of the southwest for a bit. However, by this morning it was northwest. Regardless, the Marsh Region is still jumping with birds. We had the pleasure of having Keith Lott, ODOW Wind Energy Wildlife Biologist, visit the banding station. With him there, it further supported the fact that there are tons of birds here in the Lake Erie Marsh Region on the 20th of May. This to me was important because the draft of the bird and bat monitoring for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Terrestrial Wind Development Voluntary Cooperative Agreement only had bird surveys for migration running through May 15th. I have received word that the dates have been extended on the migration surveys.

For the seven hours the nets were up we caught 331 new birds and 44 recaptures. The birds never slowed down today but we did. Forty-one species including 21 warbler species were today’s catch. Highlights for the day were Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (there was still one around), Philadelphia Vireo, two male Blackburnian Warblers!, and a female Hooded Warbler. A large swallow movement occurred today which lasted until after 1000 with swarms of Purple Martins, Barn Swallows, Bank Swallows, and Tree Swallows. I imagine there was some Northern Rough-winged Swallows there as well but not while I was observing.

Finally the Swainson’s Thrushes began showing up. Some years they do not arrive in any numbers until around the 20th. I admit I was wondering if they were going to appear in any numbers. Can you believe spring migration is half over! Get out while the birds are here! Who needs to mow their grass? It will still be there. The birds won’t be back until fall.

Top 10 species banded:
Magnolia Warbler - 79
American Redstart - 38
Gray Catbird - 27
Nashville Warbler - 19
Common Yellowthroat - 18
Ovenbird - 16
Yellow Warbler - 14
Swainson’s Thrush - 14
Black - and- White Warbler - 14
Wilson’s Warbler - 10

Here are some birds that get underappreciated:

Canada Warbler with his black necklace.

Chestnut-sided Warbler male with his black malar stripe.

Take time to enjoy spring!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Great Day to be out birding!

A cool west wind kept things cooler than normal for May. The birds are hanging out here so everyone should be having an enjoyable time in the Lake Erie Marsh Region birdwatching. For seven hours the nets were open and we captured 151 new birds and 85 recaptures. There are a lot of banded Baltimore Orioles hanging out for several days. No sign or sound of the Worm-eating Warbler today. We had 40 species captured including 20 warbler species. At the station there were at least two Red-breasted Nuthatches. One was singing (if you call it that), while one was in the net. No sign or sound from a Connecticut Warbler in Navarre but it is early yet. They will be coming in now through the end of the month. Mourning Warblers will peak probably the next time the winds shift to the SW which looks like Sunday and Monday. It is nice it will occur on a holiday weekend so folks can enjoy the birds.

Top 7 species banded:
Magnolia Warbler - 17
Nashville Warbler - 14
Gray Catbird - 12
Yellow Warbler - 11
Tennessee Warbler - 10
Common Yellowthroat - 8
Red-winged Blackbird - 6

These Indigo Buntings are of two ages- the right male bird is a second-year bird (SY) (hatched last summer) and the male on the left is an after-second year (ASY). Note the primary coverts on the left bird are black feathers edged with blue and the right bird the coverts are brown retaining his immature feathers. We have caught SY males that have looked like the left bird except the primary coverts were brown so just because they are blue does not make them an adult ASY male. You can usually pick this coloration contrast using binoculars. Next time take a closer look when admiring an Indigo Bunting to see if it is an SY or ASY male. Females have similar traits with the primary covert coloration for each age class however it is hard to distinguish it in the field. Female SY primary coverts are brown edged brown and adult ASY females have brown coverts edged with blue. It is subtle coloration not a bright blue as the male.

Enjoy the beauty of this male Bay-breasted Warbler.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Nighthawk greeted me again today...

Once again I was greeted by the Common Nighthawk driving in today. Cool southerly winds produced 334 new birds with 63 recaptures with the nets open 8 hours. There were birds around everywhere it seemed. We banded 49 species including 25 warbler species.

Highlights for the day were Whip-poor-will, Eastern Kingbird (3 of them), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Cedar Waxwing.

Top 9 species of the day:
Magnolia Warbler - 47
Nashville Warbler - 45
Yellow Warbler - 32
Gray Catbird - 27
Wilson’s Warbler - 24
Blackpoll Warbler - 11
Tennessee Warbler - 10
Common Yellowthroat - 10
Ovenbird - 10

The Saturday morning banding demonstration at the BSBO Nature Center went well with the aid of several Ohio Young Bird Club members. Phil Chaon, Ben Thorton, Elliot and Wyatt Miller.

Busy, successful day and I am very tired. I hope you were able to go out and enjoy this great day!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Birds have been steady throughout the week...

Even with earlier northeast winds the bird numbers have been steady. After an early morning of little to no wind, the winds shifted to the southwest after about 09:00 AM. While driving through the marsh to get to the banding station a Common Nighthawk swooped in front of my truck chasing a moth. All I saw was the white bars on its wings as it passed by. That was a good sign. I had not yet seen or heard any nighthawks this spring.

Forces were split again today with Woodmore School second graders visiting the BSBO Nature Center. We shared the banding experience with 120 kids and hopefully inspired them to appreciate what they have in their backyard.

Phil Chaon, OYBC member and Kim
sharing their knowledge to the second-graders.

In Navarre we had 185 new banded birds with 75 recaptures with nets open seven hours. This included 34 banded species and 19 warbler species. An Olive-sided Warbler was spotted near the banding building but not seen again today.
Highlights for the day were Acadian Flycatcher, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and another Worm-eating Warbler (3 for the season).

Top 9 species for the day:
Gray Catbird - 23
Yellow Warbler - 19
American Redstart - 15
Magnolia Warbler - 15
Red-winged Blackbird - 13
Myrtle (yellow-rumped) Warbler - 12
Nashville Warbler - 8
Blackpoll Warbler - 8
Common Yellowthroat - 8

The day should be just as good tomorrow as it was today with the winds out of the southwest. These are not tropical winds so no big push of birds. There are second wave birds here in reasonable numbers. At least more than earlier in the week, whereby there was one of this species and one of that species seen. Now there are multiples of each species of the known common ones like Magnolia and Nashville Warblers.

As always enjoy the season, no matter if it still feels like April!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We caught a Winter Wren today!

Winds today were out of the northeast so birds were not concentrated on the ridges but it was nice to be outside with the sun shining. With that said, there was still a nice selection of birds around.

Guess What?! We caught a Winter Wren today! A lone straggler not wanting to be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or farther north just yet. Of course it feels like winter or at least April as far as the temperature goes. We had a big midge (Chironomid) hatch today, the light green ones. So there was plenty of food for the birds. Not much talking went on while checking nets otherwise we would become flycatchers!

The day’s catch consisted of 147 new birds and 46 recaptures. It actually felt like more recaptures but the numbers tell the story. It is to be expected to have all these recaptures. Who would want to fly north into a head wind? A couple old banded Baltimore Orioles appeared today along with a few old banded Gray Catbirds. Yipppee! More Gray Catbirds! There was one this morning on the point count that imitated an Eastern Towhee perfectly in amongst his garbly song. Thirty-four species of new birds captured today with 19 species of warbler amongst the catch.

American Redstart males exhibit delayed plumage maturation whereby males hatched last summer (second-year) birds look like females but have some black feathers on some portion of the body usually found on the face and chest. The advantage is to usurp territories and mate with the female without drawing attention to themselves. Pretty sneaky!

Highlights for the day are the Winter Wren, Northern Parula, and a Great Crested Flycatcher. The Great Crested caught the fancy of many of the volunteers. “Such a large bill on this flycatcher” was the common response.

Top 10 species for the day:
Magnolia Warbler - 25
Yellow Warbler -17
Gray Catbird - 15
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 9
American Redstart - 8
Cape May Warbler - 7
Nashville Warbler - 7
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 6
Black and White Warbler - 6
Red-winged Blackbird - 6

Make time to get outside and search for something new! Enjoy Spring!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We dodged the rain for a couple of hours...

I did say it would be a good day even though you had to dodge raindrops! There was a good variety of birds around which should have made everyone happy. We dodged the rain for a couple hours but heavy drizzle made us close up shop early. We did get in 5.33 hours capturing 289 new birds and 13 recaptures. Remember how much I said I loved White-throated Sparrows because we had sooo many. Today it was Gray Catbirds. They are so quiet—not! At least they don’t bite hard. We again caught the Common Yellowthroat return from 2001. I imagine he is on territory and will be around for the duration of the breeding season. Another old banded COYE was captured that was banded in 2004. Today we were graced with 45 bird species banded including 23 warblers. It was neat to see one net with a Wilson’s, Hooded, and Kentucky Warbler lined up next to each other in the net. Black and yellow colors prevailed today! The Magnolia Warblers are here! Did I not say they would come today?!

Highlights for the day were the first Black-billed Cuckoo for the season, 3 species of Empidonax flycatchers (Least, Yellow-bellied, Traill’s), Kentucky (female), my first Wilson’s of the year!, Hooded (female), male Mourning—I heard there were many on the Magee Boardwalk, and a female Scarlet Tanager.

Female Scarlet Tanager has a green yellow color versus the female Summer Tanager is a golden yellow coloration. The definitive way to tell is to look at the under wing lining color or axillary color---for Scarlet it is white or gray and the Summer female axillaries are yellow.

Top 8 species for the day:
Magnolia Warbler - 52
Gray Catbird - 43
American Redstart - 28
Yellow Warbler - 26
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 12
Common Yellowthroat - 11
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 9
Ovenbird - 9

So as you can see it is a great time to get outside and enjoy Spring!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today a Summer Tanager female...

Light fog this morning which cleared up with a southeast winds and sunshine all day. Nets were up 6 hours 40 minutes with a capture of 122 new banded birds and 68 recaptures. Several more old banded Yellow Warblers and the Sharp-shinned Hawk we banded yesterday. The day’s catch included 31 species with 14 warbler species. Highlights for the day were a Summer Tanager female, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female, Eastern Kingbird, and several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We heard the Summer Tanager calling when we set up the nets this morning and sure enough this afternoon she came low enough to visit the net. It was a surprise to see the sapsucker. They are normally gone by mid-May.

Summer Tanager female

A nice After-second Year (ASY) male Baltimore Oriole
with its great tail pattern to show off.

An interesting sighting today, while walking up to a net I saw a White-crowned Sparrow near the net on a log displaying its crest to another White-crown caught in the net. It was walking up and down the log with its feathers on its crown all poofed up. It looked like a black and white afro on its head. I have seen the crest raised so it looks like a point on its head but I had never seen the feathers on its head raised this much. This was like a small black and white striped golf ball on top of its head. There is never a boring moment in nature—that is for sure!

Top 7 species for the day:
White-throated Sparrow - 30
Yellow Warbler - 13
Gray Catbird - 12
White-crowned Sparrow - 8
Nashville Warbler - 7
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 7
Red-winged Blackbird* - 7

*most of these were females coming to the ground to look for nesting material.

The weather may cause us to dodge raindrops tomorrow but it looks like a good chance for the second wave of migrants to make a push. Tonight the winds are to be south southeast with a low in the 50’s. It could be good for bird watching tomorrow. We shall see if the weatherman gets it right.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

We caught a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in this weather...

The weather makes you wonder if it is May or April outside. Cool and drizzly this morning with a strong north wind which dampened the birds from moving around. The temperatures were in the low 50’s even by afternoon and the sun never came out. I never thought we would catch a Ruby-throated Hummingbird today in this weather but one male made an appearance. Another highlight for the day was a recapture of a Sharp-shinned Hawk we caught several days ago and a new one. We are up to 13 Sharpies for the spring. We had 25 recaptures today with 2 Yellow Warblers, 1 Warbling Vireo, 1 Prothonotary Warbler, 1 Common Yellowthroat, and 1 Gray Catbird returning to the station from previous years. We have not caught any foreign recoveries, i.e. someone else’s banded birds, yet this year.

Despite the weather we caught and banded 93 new birds, 30 species which included 15 species of warbler. At the first net check there was a net with 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in it! What a noise they make! Their squawk is quite obnoxious---however, once you have heard it you can tell it is a grosbeak when you hear it anywhere! With the strong winds, the birds were hunkered down in areas out of the wind.

Here is the net with the grosbeaks in it,
just imagine the noise….

Top seven species for the day:

Nashville Warbler - 14
Yellow Warbler - 10
Red-winged Blackbird - 9
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 6
White-throated Sparrow - 6
Black and White Warbler - 6
Gray Catbird - 5

If the winds turn to the south, it looks like this week will be good for a push of second wavers - orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, tons-of-Magnolia Warblers and potential for 20 plus species of warbler. Tomorrow winds are going to be from the SE so a better day is in store!

Quiz bird for you and always a great bird to see,
what is this bird?

Look for the wind changing to the south and then the bushes will be dripping with Magnolia Warblers!

Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The rain shut us down completely...

Well, the weatherperson was right on the forecast… It rained after the nets were put up for a couple of hours. There were definitely birds out there. Then the rain shut us down completely. For the day we caught 65 new birds with 11 recaptures. Thirteen warbler species for the day…not bad for a short day.

We caught our first Great Crested Flycatcher this year! It was neat because you could tell it was a second-year bird (hatched last year). It is not always as easy as one would think to see the differentiation in the primary covert wear on brown feathers.

Top 6 species for today:
Gray Catbird - 10
Ovenbird - 8
White-throated Sparrow - 6
Common Yellowthroat - 5
American Redstart - 4
Veery - 4

Look for the wind changing to the south and then the bushes will be dripping with Magnolia Warblers!

Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

International Migratory Bird Day!

And where were you on this date?

It seemed like everyone was here in the Marsh Region celebrating the return of the songbirds! Forces were split up today with a public banding demonstration at the west entrance of the Magee Marsh W/A boardwalk and running the Navarre station. Nice variety of birds at the boardwalk from what I heard. I only saw what was around the parking lot. Around 10:00 AM while walking to cheek the mist nets for the demonstration there were 100+ people surrounding the Port-o-Johns looking up in the trees overtop. What a sight that was! Of course, we had to stop and ask what they were looking at. Can you believe it a Yellow-throated Warbler be-bopping over the top of the Port-o-Johns! It was around for some time because at 5:00 PM it was still in the trees near the parking lot above my truck. You never know what you might see and where you might see it.

Not much diversity at the banding demonstration. Lots of Myrtle Warblers, blackbirds, and White-throated Sparrows were caught out of the total of 77.

Here are the results from Navarre: 106 New banded birds of 23 species including 40 recaptures. Fourteen warbler species caught today. Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and House Wrens jumped in the nets today.

Top 7 species for Navarre today:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 18
Western Palm Warbler - 15
Red-winged Blackbird - 11
White-throated Sparrow - 10
Yellow Warbler - 9
Nashville Warbler - 8
House Wren - 7

Looks like rain tomorrow and an easterly wind so it is not looking good. Maybe the weatherperson will have an incorrect forecast.

Enjoy the spring colors!

Friday, May 9, 2008

30 species today...

Another nice day to be outside! Discovery Tours, an Arizona tour group, visited the banding station today. They were in for a real treat! We also had the pleasure of a few banders from New York and surrounding states. It is always a pleasure to have visiting researchers see our operation and share ideas and talk shop.

For the day we had a total of 190 new birds including 30 species and 38 recaptures. More of those lovely White-throated Sparrows are sticking around for a few more days.
The highlights for the day were a Red-headed Woodpecker, two more Sharp-shinned Hawks, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and male and female Northern Parulas. Twenty species of warbler were caught today with 22 seen on the area.

Top 8 species for the day:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 88
---*close to reaching 1,000 for the spring
White-throated Sparrow - 19
Western Palm Warbler - 15
Nashville Warbler - 9
Red-winged Blackbird - 6
Blackpoll Warbler - 5
Magnolia Warbler - 5
Yellow Warbler - 5

Look at the large white wing patches on this
Red-headed Woodpecker

Enjoy Spring!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wind direction was correct...

I should have known the weatherperson did not know how to predict the weather. The only thing they got correct was the wind direction. No rain at our station today. The winds started out northwest and by 11:00 AM were out of the east northeast which quieted down the birds. There was still a nice variety around despite the chill in the air. During the point count this morning there was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding ravenously on the flowers of the bladdernut shrub. Quite a few Barn Swallows moving around the marsh here in Navarre and at Magee Marsh this afternoon.

Today we had 125 new birds and 31 recaptures which included 29 species. Most of the recaptures consisted of White-throated Sparrows. There also was more White-throated Sparrow song in the marsh today. The north winds must have pushed some down. It has been many days that we have had that much song by White-throats. Two more old banded Gray Catbirds, a Yellow Warbler, and a Prothonotary Warbler from previous years. Finding out the original banding year is a rainy day project.

Highlights were of course the Blackburnian Warbler male with the glowing orange throat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orange-crowned and Bay-breasted Warblers. It has been interesting that most of the Orange-crowns caught recently were early. Today we had 3 before 07:00 AM. I guess you might have to come early to get a glimpse of Orange-crowns when out birding. Sixteen species of warblers were captured with two others heard on the site.
Top 6 species for today:
White-throated Sparrow - 26
Myrtle Warbler - 19
Yellow Warbler - 12
Magnolia Warbler - 9
American Redstart - 8
Northern Waterthrush - 6

Just for fun here is your quiz bird for today
(answer at the bottom):

And another gorgeous bird that is in trouble is the Yellow-breasted Chat. Its numbers are declining with the removal of its breeding habitat of 3 plus acres of shrub/scrub required for nesting by these birds. The more shrub/scrub habitat the better. BSBO once owned Christy Farms Nature Preserve which had a large patch of shrub/scrub about 4 acres and one year this parcel had 3 pairs of chats and at least one extra male. We knew this because we ran a breeding bird project on the property as part of the national bird monitoring program - Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (M.A.P.S.) where we caught them on the area. It was quite an eye opening experience to have that many chats in that area. Shrub/scrub habitat doesn’t look clean and neat and most landowners do not like the looks of it. However, it has so many benefits in all seasons. Shrub habitat is great for migratory stopover habitat for songbirds with a lot of surface area for bugs. Blocks of this habitat provides breeding habitat for birds restricted to those habitats such as chats, towhees, and thrashers. It provides good cover in the winter too and many times provides food resources depending on the shrub species.

A banding million dollar question: Can you determine the sex of this chat in this picture?

Answer: Yes, you can sex chats by their mouth lining. If it is pink then it is female if it is black then it is a male. So there you have it. This one is a male. One must be careful in determining males by the brilliance of their colors because older females of the same species can take on male coloration traits and often deepen their colors.

There are many interesting things to see and learn in nature.

Get out and enjoy Spring!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

26 species of warblers...

Another beautiful day in the marsh, southwest winds brought in a few more species but not a lot of volume yet. The next few days look a little wet and winds will turn to the northeast so the birds will not be going north until the wind turns around. Total new banded birds for the day was 230 including 47 species and 16 recaptures. More old Gray Catbirds returning today. Twenty-two species of warbler were captured with 26 species seen/heard in Navarre. It seemed like an exceptional early day for catching over a dozen American Redstarts.

Highlights for the day were Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow, Mourning Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, 5 Northern Parula, Hooded Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelli) is a western race of the White-crowned Sparrow. The eastern race Zonotrichia leucophrys leucophrys of the White-crowned Sparrow can be identified by the presence of the black line in the lore area. The Gambel’s race lacks the black in the lore area.

Top 7 species for the day:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 39
White-throated Sparrow - 37
Western Palm Warbler - 19
Yellow Warbler - 15
American Redstart - 15
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 11
Gray Catbird - 10

Beautiful head of the male Cape May Warbler

Pair of Cape May Warblers—note the female still has the markings of the male but duller—I say the female has the shadow field marks of the male. Except the female has two wing bars and the male has one large wing bar.

There is always something to enjoy in nature.

Enjoy spring!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It was a beautful day...

Light winds overnight did not produce much variety. Mid-morning the winds shifted off the lake with the presence of the high pressure system. It still was a beautiful day regardless of the apparent lower diversity of species. Once again Myrtle and Western Palm Warblers dominated the net waves. I tend to ignore the many White-throated Sparrows. They always seem to be around. However, one should not be complacent about the numerous non-descript birds. They are important too in the whole scheme of things.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Baltimore Orioles were of course around the station. A male Scarlet Tanager serenaded but no chance for an up close visit today. The best bird of the day was the male Black-throated Blue Warbler. Nice adult male with a broad white wing patch or handkerchief on its wing.

We caught our first Traill’s Flycatcher today. Traill’s Flycatcher is what banders call the Alder and Willow Flycatcher because they look similar and cannot be told apart in most cases unless you take certain wing measurements and then there is great overlap in the measurements. Maybe one in ten can be keyed out to either an Alder or Willow Flycatcher.

For just over 6 hours the nets were open to produce 188 new banded birds of 31 species and 16 recaptures. We caught several older banded Gray Catbirds. There are still a few Hermit Thrushes around. We did catch two Gray-cheeked Thrushes so be on the lookout for the all brown back and tail bird with no eye-ring.

Top 7 species for the day were:
White-throated Sparrow - 35
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 31
Yellow Warbler - 19
Western Palm Warbler - 14
Nashville Warbler - 11
House Wren - 9
Swamp Sparrow - 8

The winds are to be southerly tonight and tomorrow so it could be a good migration day. So anywhere in the Lake Erie Marshes should be good places to go. I heard that for International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday and for Sunday, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is having their auto tour both days. This will be a good opportunity to see different marsh and grassland habitats for migrants including raptors, land birds and potentially shorebirds.

The pictures I promised you -
Male Summer Tanager from yesterday.

There are a whole host of choices of what to do on Saturday so come on out and enjoy the beauty and spectacle of songbird migration! Bird walks, optic displays, breakfast, lunch, and a whole lot more! The Bird Observatory will have a banding demonstration to see the migrants up close down at the west entrance of Magee Boardwalk alongside Tom Bartlett’s BIG SIT. Don’t miss the fun and camaraderie of the great birdwatchers from all over the country and the world. This is a statement to the value of this Lake Erie Marsh habitat. Enjoy Spring!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Birds are everywhere!

Southwest winds brought in more birds today with few of the second wave birds trickling in. The low pressure cells are moving north soon after they hit the Oklahoma/Arkansas region instead of moving east to northeast. I am not complaining. We have had few northeast or east winds which can cut down on the amount of birds in our area. It has been busy and enjoyable with the birds that we have had around.

I cannot speak for most of the day except from the numbers given. I was conducting a banding demonstration for the regional Soil and Water Conservation folks at Old Woman Creek State Wildlife Area and by the way, it is a great place to go bird watching too.

There was an Orchard Oriole and Baltimore Orioles taunting me way up in the trees and I heard several species of warblers from the Visitor’s Center. They have great trails along the creek to explore for migrants too! We have so many great places to bird in Ohio—it is one of our greatest assets.

Back to the birds…. while I was working at Old Woman Creek wouldn’t you know they caught a male Summer Tanager in Navarre! Yeah, I only saw little pictures on the digital camera view finder and guess what, you will have to wait until tomorrow for the picture. No, it is not like the check is in the mail, stay tuned they are coming…

The catch for today in Navarre consisted of 212 new banded birds with 25 recaptures. Seventeen warbler species were caught with the highlights for the day being Summer Tanager, Golden-winged Warbler male, Cape May Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat!, and five Red-breasted Nuthatches. Sure seems like the northern birds are hanging around a bit longer than usual. I even heard that a small flock of Pine Siskins were in the trees in the parking lot of the Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center this afternoon. We did catch the first Baltimore Oriole today!

Top 7 species for the day:
White-throated Sparrow - 26
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 26
Gray Catbird - 21
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 21*
Nashville Warbler - 16**
Western Palm Warbler - 14
Yellow Warbler - 14
*highest capture for the day for Ruby-crowned Kinglets
**12 birds were caught in one net at one time!

If you cannot tell by now you all should be out birding before work, after work, take off from work, take vacation for the month of May and enjoy Spring! The birds are everywhere! Enjoy the green spaces near you.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

No luck catching a Baltimore Oriole...

The day started out slow with little song from the birds. It was cool in the 40’s and by 10:00 AM the temperatures warmed up seemingly to activate the birds. There were a lot of Myrtle Warblers and Western Palm Warblers everywhere. Again we had a few Baltimore Orioles singing but no luck with catching one. We have caught some very old orioles in past years and I am waiting on their return.

For the day we caught 208 new banded birds including 27 recaptures with highlights of a Scarlet Tanager female, Prothonotary Warbler, and two more Sharp-shinned Hawks. Nine Sharp-shinned Hawks have made a record catch for the history of the project. Twenty-six species were banded today including 13 species of warblers.

Top 7 species:
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 100
Western Palm Warbler - 39
Yellow Warbler - 12
Gray Catbird - 9
Red-winged Blackbird - 8
White-throated Sparrow!!!** - 6
Ovenbird - 6

*** Of course we had some White-throated Sparrow recaptures!!! Their song is pretty but those little beaks still bite. However, most of the males are up north so there is little singing going on around here.

Enjoy Spring!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Best bird of the day - Blackburnian Warbler...

The winds were favorable from the southwest today but threat of rain slowed down the banding process. From what I heard, there was greater species diversity at the Magee Marsh boardwalk than in Navarre. It was pretty quiet here with not much singing in spite of the good wind direction. Of the few being vocal, Baltimore Orioles serenaded us throughout the morning but none gave us a personal close-up view nor did they want to be banded. Their song was beautiful none the less. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak did not show up until after it began raining. I think it was taunting us from high up in the trees!

Regardless of the rain we had some good birds! Two Sharp-shinned hawks graced us with their presence. Unfortunately a White-crowned Sparrow did not zig when it should have zagged and a Sharpy chased it into the net! The Sharpy did not get away without a band. Before it rained we managed to capture 87 new birds and 28 recaptures in 4.5 hours. Most of the recaptures were White-throated Sparrows. Twenty-five species were captured in the nets including 11 warbler species.

Highlights for the day are Sharp-shinned Hawks and the best warbler was a Blackburnian Warbler!

Blackburnian Warbler

Top 6 species for the day are:
Gray Catbird - 15
White-throated Sparrow - 10
Ovenbird - 7
Yellow Warbler - 6
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 5
Wood Thrush - 5

Enjoy Spring!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Red-breasted Grosbeaks have made an appearance...

Winds out of the south bought in new birds for the day. It turned out to be the beginning of the second pulse of birds of the first wave. Tomorrow looks to be even better from the forecast with southwest winds this evening and lows in the high 50’s to maybe 60 degrees. Scattered downpours shut down our banding operation a bit early for the day. We had many White-throated Sparrows and Gray Catbirds. Some second wave birds, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have made an appearance. There will be more to come in the second wave which is around the 7th to the 15th of May. Be on the look out for southwest winds and the low pressure cell in the Oklahoma/Arkansas region. This weather pattern brings warm tropical winds up to the Ohio Valley. The waves have been on schedule so far this spring.

One hundred seventy new birds were banded including 32 species. Eighty-nine birds species were heard and/or seen at the station today. Sixteen recaptures for the day with two old Common Yellowthroats and an old Yellow Warbler. Of the Common Yellowthroats, one was banded last year and the other was banded in 2001!

Again lots of Blue Jays flying before the rain came. They maintained their uncertain direction of flight again ---flying east to then fly back west along the lakefront. They don’t appear to want to cross the lake at the Navarre point along the lake.

Highlights for the day were the 15 species of warblers including several Blue-winged Warblers and a recaptured Hooded Warbler from yesterday. Also an interesting catch not unusual but usually stumps most people so here you go give it a shot—what is this? (answer at the end of the day’s blog)

Top 9 species:
White-throated Sparrow - 56
Gray Catbird - 20
Western Palm Warbler - 10
Northern Waterthrush - 10
House Wren - 7
Swainson’s Thrush - 7
Yellow Warbler - 5
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler - 5
Common Yellowthroat - 5

Second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with highly evident molt limits - see brown primary coverts and primaries

Answer to the mystery bird is female Indigo Bunting! Notice the thicker bi-color bill with some blue on the rump.

Enjoy Spring!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Birds came in last night...

The morning started out in a whirlwind, the southeast winds apparently brought in some birds overnight. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a Baltimore Oriole serenaded us after we had the nets up. No luck in seeing them up close today. Opportunities will come later I am sure for a better view. They have only just begun to appear. At least for today the numbers of Myrtle Warblers were considerably lower and will not make the top ten species banded.

A very nice selection of birds today with 29 new banded species and another 3 recaptures species, Carolina Wren, Kentucky Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler. First day of the year for us to have White-crowned Sparrow, Least Flycatcher and a gorgeous male Black-throated Blue Warbler at Navarre.
Thirteen species of warbler were caught today, two of those were recaptures. One hundred and thirty–seven new birds banded today with 28 recaptures in 6.25 hours. There was still a Winter Wren that graced us with its presence. It is one of the last we will see until fall migration.
We caught all the thrushes today except the Eastern Bluebird, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. A lot of Wood Thrushes were around the station today.

Tomorrow looks to be a good day for a good movement of birds. The scattered showers predicted and the warm winds should make the birds easier to see, so get out if you can!
Most likely going to be a second push of the first wave birds such as Myrtle Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and some second wave birds heading in.
Top 7 Species Banded:
White-throated Sparrow - 24
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 21
Ovenbird - 9
Nashville Warbler - 8
Hermit Thrush - 8
Yellow Warbler - 7
Gray Catbird - 7

Highlights were a male Hooded Warbler, see above, Black-throated Blue Warbler, see below, and another Sharp-shinned Hawk.

A Nice after-second year male Black-throated Blue Warbler (primary coverts are black not edged with green as a Second-year bird would have) This bird is at least 3 years old.

Enjoy Spring, it only comes but once a year!