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!

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