Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lake winds keep numbers down

Northeasterly winds made for a low catch for the day. Mark and crew mustered 51 new banded birds with 30 recaptures. Still a good number of warbler species around with sixteen being seen in Navarre including Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada. It looks and sounds like we might have a Black-and-white going to nest in Navarre. It has been on a territory for a week. We shall see. The Black-throated Green Warbler is still singing in the same area as well. Who knows who will stay and who will go?! We have had a Mourning Warbler nest at the site a few years back. We know that because we captured the female with a brood patch in July and the male had been singing all June. We have had a pair of Eastern Screech Owls nesting out there almost every year. A fuzzy youngster has been clacking its bill for most of the week while setting up the nets and Mark saw him perched in one of the locust trees this morning.

It appears that the last push of spring songbirds will come on the southwest winds tomorrow. The low is not a tropical wind but coming from the Dakotas. What comes of it will probably be the last of anything substantial for spring migration. A sad thing to say but the numbers and species are telling the story.

Guess what?! Another foreign recovery today! We caught someone else’s American Redstart that they had banded. The data for this bird was in the computer of the Bird Banding Laboratory so we know that the bird was originally banded in Ontario on August 21, 2008. So it has made quite a journey so far!

Top 6 species:
Common Yellowthroat – 10
American Redstart – 7
Canada Warbler – 5
Magnolia Warbler – 3
Red-eyed Vireo – 3
Swainson’s Thrush – 3

The last of spring migration is the Wilson's Warbler farewell. He is extraordinary for such a small bird which is smaller than an American Goldfinch to travel the distance they do from as far south as the Panama and as far north as Alaskan Aleutian Islands. However, those coming through Ohio are not going to Alaska but to northern boreal forest of Ontario. Populations are declining in the west and until recently are showing declines in the eastern parts of their range. Widespread elimination and degradation riparian, pond, and bog edges on their breeding grounds appears to be contributing to the decline in this species according to Boreal Songbird Initiative. The wintering grounds of this warbler seem to be not the threat since they utilize disturbed and transitional habitats. The trials of a small songbird... All the more reason to ensure we can help them get to the breeding grounds in good condition! The terrific stopoover migration habitat we have in Ohio is important to this species as well as many others.

As well as the last farewell to the migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Take a look at the throat of a male where you can see the ridges on each individual feather on the throat or gorget!

Until tomorrow.... Have a good day!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Seventeen warblers are still around

It was a slower day today with the high pressure system and the time of year. Seventy-three new birds with 27 recaptures were netted in 6.5 hours. Seventeen warblers were seen or heard on site including Yellow, Chestnut-sided (several singing), Magnolia, Black-throated Green (singing), Bay-breasted, Blackpoll (singing), Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary (singing), Ovenbird, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded (chipping), Wilson’s, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat (singing).

Highlights were a late White-throated Sparrow and a Lincoln’s Sparrow. Everyone said “Is that a White-throat?” Yes, it sure was! Several of the Yellow Warblers captured today had a large amount of fat. They are likely on their way north. The birds that stay here to breed are devoid of fat or energy reserves. Yellow Warblers reach up into northern Canada and Alaska—of course the ones here are not most likely going to Alaska or I would go with them!

Top 7 species:
Wilson’s Warbler – 9
Yellow Warbler – 6
Traill’s Flycatcher – 6
Canada Warbler – 4
Mourning Warbler – 4
Common Yellowthroat – 4
Red-eyed Vireo – 4

Take a look at this guy---I know I had a picture of a Mourning Warbler here before, but did you know that the black would extend to the throat if the gray edges of the feathers on its throat would have wore off like it had on the breast showing the black chevron? Yep, each breast and throat feathers are black underneath with the terminal edged with gray. Birds are amazing!

Enjoy the day! (P.S. doesn't this bird have the same expression as the famous mad bluebird picture?!)

Friday, May 29, 2009

High pressure system calms the winds

I have to admit that spring migration is coming to the end. I recognize this because of the species and second-year female birds we are catching. In addition, I have noticed that the activity of birds usually wanes by noon time. However, the birding is good in the morning. If I was to suggest good birding times of 7 AM to 10 AM then go fishing or whatever you enjoy doing.

There were 20 species of warbler still around the research station. Today a Black-throated Green Warbler was singing early. The other warbler species include: Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson’s, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

One hundred and ten new birds were netted with an additional 40 recaptures. The highlights for the day were a Black-throated Blue Warbler, the Hooded Warbler from yesterday was still around, and a Connecticut Warbler. There were still several Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes in the area.

Top 6 species:
Traill’s Flycatcher – 20
Wilson’s Warbler – 12
American Redstart – 12
Mourning Warbler – 7
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 7
Swainson’s Thrush – 7

Eastern Wood Pewee is a flycatcher characterized by wing bars, bi-colored beak, and a lack of eye ring. In the hand they also have a short tarsus or as I say “peewee” legs.

Enjoy the weekend and all the best to see a Connecticut Warbler!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Southwest winds overnight produce the birds!

Another day in paradise! Paradise is usually the tropics where it rains everyday and the humidity is high, right? That was the situation today with high humidity and showers. To add to the paradise, winds remained out of the SW last night and into most of this day. The wind shifted to the west at almost 5 PM on the dot. There were birds around to be seen! Lots of variety to add to the paradise experience. How about a female Kentucky Warbler or a male Hooded this late for NW Ohio? Or would you like to be serenaded by a spunky Yellow-breasted Chat for most of the morning? They are the coolest bird with their grunts and whistles. I guess you have to hear it for yourself to determine the goodness of his quality singing. How about another Connecticut Warbler to add to the list? Or an OROR—stands for Orchard Oriole? I say this day could not be much better for this time of May! Definitely a good bird day! Yes, of course there were flycatchers everywhere and their compatriots the Red-eyed Vireos.

Sixteen species of warbler were captured with an additional 3 species observed or heard. These include Tennessee (a male was singing like crazy!), Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson’s, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Before the rain shut us down, we netted 186 new birds with 25 recaptures. Tomorrow with a forecast of NW winds should not affect us as much as a direct north or east wind. I expect a good day again tomorrow especially if the winds remain out of the west longer than forecasted.

Top 6 species:
Traill’s Flycatcher – 47
American Redstart – 17
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 15
Mourning Warbler – 15
Red-eyed Vireo – 11
Swainson’s Thrush – 10

The next south wind looks like Monday and I believe it will be the last push of most of the songbirds going north. We are catching a lot of female Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and other female warblers. Females may make life challenging. I am talking female birds, here. The female warblers sure have a beauty all their own with the subtle colors they wear.

Enjoy this look at this female Kentucky Warbler. How do I know it is a female? Because it had adult wing plumage (no worn or abraded coverts-you yourself can see the primary coverts and alula feather are edged with green-they look nice!) and it lacked the intense black on the head as a male would have.
To give males some show time here is a second-year male Orchard Oriole. Note: it is trying to be an adult with a few rust feathers coming in on the breast. Also note the two colored bill like all orioles have.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Connecticut Warblers are here! Come and see them!

Did I not say today was going to be good?! So what if there were a few raindrops later? The weather people did not predict the weather very well for the overnight and morning hours. However it was for the better! Did you see the sun this morning? I first went ouside this morning only to see light fog. I check the wind direction using the Davis Besse steam stack as my wind indicator. The wind was out of the SW. Hot diggety, I thought to myself! I helped set up the nets and left Mark and the crew to do the dirty work while I ventured over to the Observatory to help with school programs. The kids were really interested in birds and stayed attentive so it made for a great day. Always a great day when you see young people inspired by nature!

A great day was had at the banding station. As I had mentioned that Connecticut Warblers would be coming in on this front. Lo, and behold, they did! I am not always correct but better than some weather people’s forecasting. Can you believe it five, count them five, Connecticut Warblers today! Those of you that have stopped birdwatching for the spring may want to dust off your binoculars and head out here to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa NWR. Tonight is to be a SW wind and it will shift by late morning to the west and then northwest. I would say come on out and get your looks at these late migrants!

Netted for the day were 170 new birds with 23 recaptures. Flycatchers were number one today as one would expect. We caught our first Eastern Kingbird for the spring too. Other highlights included 13 Mourning Warblers, a Philadelphia Vireo, an Eastern Kingbird, and a Lincoln Sparrow. Eighteen warblers were observed on site including Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Did I say Blackburnian Warbler?!!!! See?! I told you that spring is NOT over yet!
Female Connecticut Warbler

Male Connecticut Warbler (below)

Top 5 species:
Traill’s Flycatcher – 47
Red-eyed Vireo – 18
Mourning Warbler – 13
Swainson’s Thrush – 13
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 11
Can you see this fire red top most times on an Eastern Kingbird? Nope. Both sexes have the red top knot.
Do I need to say more to convince you to get out and look for those late spring migrants?!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Easterly winds stagnate bird migration

Another rerun of yesterday with 52 new birds netted and 43 recaptures with the ENE winds. The winds are to shift to the SE tonight and to the south tomorrow with a high probability of rain. New birds should come in if you are willing to dodge raindrops. The rest of the week does not look bad either with the winds to go west but then go south again on Sunday so I would suggest getting out to see the late migrants. I expect another push of Connecticut Warblers (remember they do not come in flocks!) to come in with the flycatchers and vireos.
Highlights today were seeing the Olive-sided Flycatcher and catching another Blackburnian Warbler! I must say if you stop birding by now you will miss out on some of the species for your year list. There was still a nice variety of warblers around. Sixteen species were observed including: Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada.

Female Red-winged Blackbirds were obviously looking for nesting materials and some feeding young because they were the top bird today. The typical warblers are still in good numbers if you are looking for Magnolias and American Redstarts today is a good day to find them. However, I hear the Magee Boardwalk was hopping with Wilson’s Warblers as well.

Top 7 species:
Red-winged Blackbird – 7
Magnolia Warbler – 5
American Redstart – 5
Canada Warbler – 4
Traill’s Flycatcher – 4
Gray Catbird – 4
Swainson’s Thrush – 4

Enjoy this handsome male Mourning Warbler with his exceptionally black attire.
If I were you I would plan on getting out this week to see the late migrants. The leaves and bugs may make it a bit of a challenge but be patient and you never know the Connecticut Warbler may strut your way!

Monday, May 25, 2009

High Pressure in Canada keeping us from getting new birds

Happy Memorial Day! I am so thankful for our freedom! Many Thanks to all the servicemen and women who keep this country and world free (as best we can)!

Another Northeaster today with the lake really churning! Numbers were decreased by half from the day before with 57 new banded birds and 25 recaptures. The speciation was good with 25 species banded with 12 of them being warblers. Warblers seen on site were: Blue-winged, Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green (nice looking male!), Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada.

The winds are not forecasted to turn around to the south until Tuesday night into Wednesday. Rain chances are on the increase as well. I expect the flycatchers and Red-eyed Vireos to be in larger numbers then. They have the urge to go north wherever they may be this time of year and may not stop to visit NW Ohio if the winds do not guide them here.

Top 5 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 7
Swainson’s Thrush – 5
Wilson’s Warbler – 4
Canada Warbler – 4
Red-winged Blackbird -4

Here is a mystery bird for you to figure out:

Take a look at this Magnolia Warbler and from the wing coverts you can see it is a second-year bird and a black face mask makes it a male. The wing coverts are worn and off-color with the alula (thumb feather) also worn and pointed. The coverts are the best aging tool to determining age for most warblers. It is important to understand the demographics of each species. It does the species no good if you have all adults in the population or all males. Banding is a tool to sample the populations to determine how well they are doing. Mystery bird is a female Common Yellowthroat. She is quite cryptic in coloration. The brightest color is however on her throat! Enjoy the day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chuck-will's-widow seen again this morning

As expected another lake wind, however the winds were very calm during the night so some movement of birds came in. During the drive back to the research site this morning, the Chuck-will’s-widow was spotted about 100 yards from the site flying across the road out over the lake and coming back onshore just before the research site. So it is still around!

It was another nice day and the Observatory members got a treat by visiting the station today. Mark Shieldcastle, Research Director showed them birds that we had captured in the first net check. They were shown 14 species of warbler along with a nice looking Blue-headed Vireo. The members were quite in awe of all the birds they were shown today as well as the additonal information Mark provided them on what we are learning about these birds. This hands-on experience is one of the benefits members get for supporting the Observatory.
This time of year the flycatchers get a bad rap. However, the Yellow-bellied is a fine flycatcher if I do say so myself! There were still a variety of birds around. A Blackburnian Warbler was still singing! I have learned my new warbler song for the year and that is the Wilson’s Warbler. I try to learn one new one every year. I have a ways to go. They all seem to sound alike so I concentrate on one a year. It is what works for me. Learning bird songs can be daunting but if there is a bird you enjoy seeing, if you learn its song then you will enjoy it more often because you will not always get to see it. Or it will let you know it is around and you can look for it.
Today we had 125 new birds with 36 recaptures. I am still waiting on the Empidonax Flycatchers to really hit. We caught 400 of them one day a few years back. I do not wish for that to happen again but I know there are more of them to come!

Top 7 species:
American Redstart – 14
Common Yellowthroat – 13
Swainson’s Thrush – 13
Magnolia Warbler – 11
Red-eyed Vireo – 9
Blackpoll Warbler – 8
Traill’s Flycatcher – 8

Remember tomorrow is Memorial Day! Take time to remember those who keep us free to observe these wonders of nature!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Large midge hatch overnight

Another lake wind produced lower numbers of birds but despite this fact it was an enjoyable day to take time to appreciate and observe the birds. A large midge hatch occurred overnight so there is plenty of food for these birds to fatten up on. Not only did we have birds to look at, we had a mammal visitor. It is is cute when it is little, but not so good around mist nets when it gets older. This fawn stayed along the trail for 2 net checks and then moved about 15 feet away from the trail for the remainder of the time we were running the station.

Ninety-nine new birds and 36 recaptures were netted today. We broke the spring Yellow Warbler spring record of 520 birds. We are now up to 522 new Yellow Warblers banded for this spring. Once again we are not trying to break any records but this still demonstrates the volume we have been getting all spring.

Top 6 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 15
Traill’s Flycatcher – 9
Common Yellowthroat – 8
American Redstart – 7
Blackpoll Warbler – 7
Gray Catbird – 7

Take a look at this unusual Gray Catbird. It did not have enough gray pigment when it was molting in its one primary feather and several secondary feathers. There are more unusual looking versions of birds we recognize than meets the eye.

Tomorrow is to be another lake wind so not much is expected to change in bird numbers. One last south wind should push in the last of the songbirds.

These have been beautiful days to get out and watch bird behavior. You never know what you might discover!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blackpoll Warbler number one bird of the day!

A northeast wind will cut the bird numbers in half and that is what they did for us today. We netted 172 new birds with 57 recaptures. If you were outside, you saw what the big bird of the day was: Blackpoll Warbler! It is not a regular occurrence that Blackpoll Warbler is the number one bird of the day in spring. In fall migration that happens on occasion but in spring this is a first. It is still a good day for warbler species with 16 observed including Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada. Highlights for the day were the White-eyed Vireo and Myrtle Warbler. The Myrtle Warbler was a second year female and looked pretty ragged. She was probably the last of the bunch to go north.
Partial albino Swainson's Thrush. Note the light colored bill and the white feathers on the head and chin.

Top 6 species:
Blackpoll Warbler – 32
Red-eyed Vireo – 18
American Redstart – 16
Swainson’s Thrush – 16
Wilson’s Warbler – 12
Common Yellowthroat – 10

Here are three quiz birds for you! Compare sizes and bill shapes, etc.
Have a good birding weekend!
From left to right: female Mourning, Myrtle, and Bay-breasted Warbler.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chuck-will's-widow in Navarre!

The most unusual thing ever happened today! Remember when I said Mark saw a Chuck-will’s widow back on 18 April. He speculates it may or may not be the same bird after all this time. Take a look at these photos! So many cool things about this bird. One, it is a huge bird almost twice the size of a Whip-poor-will. Two, it has a huge mouth which you could fit a baseball if not a softball in it. (it was filled with June Beetles-it would have made a great horror movie). Three, it has a modified toe that looks like a comb to clean its rictal bristles (modified feathers on the face that look like whiskers). Four, it is a neat looking bird if I do say so myself!

Middle toe of the Chuck-will's-widow!

Back to reality, we netted 281 new birds and had 31 recaptures. Since we are catching quite a few flycatchers and Red-eyed Vireos, I must concede that it is the start of the third wave of migrants. The reason I do not want to admit it is that this means only a couple more weeks of spring migration left. BUT, it will be good regardless just different species and not so colorful. We still had 22 species of warblers heard or observed including a Blue-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada. Male Black-throated Green Warbler and several Blackburnian Warblers were singing at the site besides the third wave warblers Wilson’s, Canada, American Redstart, and Mourning.

Highlights of the day were of course the Chuck-will’s widow, four Philadelphia Vireos, a nice looking Blue-winged Warbler, and a Myrtle Warbler graced us with her presence.

Here is the Connecticut Warbler female next to the female Mourning Warbler. Note the slight size difference with the Connecticut being a little larger than the Mourning Warbler. The eye ring on the Connecticut versus the split eye ring on the Mourning Warbler female is quite apparently different. I hope it is apparent to you as well.

Top 7 species:
Blackpoll Warbler (beat out Magnolias!) – 31
Traill’s Flycatcher – 26
Magnolia Warbler – 24
Wilson’s Warbler – 23
American Redstart – 19
Swainson’s Thrush – 15
Tennessee Warbler – 14

As you can see and read there is more to see of migration! Get out and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

High Pressure southerly winds keep numbers constant

It was forecasted as a warm one and it sure ended up toasty for this time of year in Ohio. We have a friend up from Louisianna and this is March weather for him. There is still a good number of species around. We have a male Scarlet Tanager still singing his heart out at the station. Twenty-two warbler species seen today including Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson's, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Today we had 306 new banded birds with 49 recaptures.
Highlights for the day were two female Hooded Warblers and the Yellow-breasted Chat.

Interesting sighting while conducting the point count this morning. We saw two Savanna Sparrows foraging high in a Kentucky Coffeetree. They were gleaning midges off the newly emerging leaves. I have never seen this behavior before let alone so high up in a tree.

Top 8 species:
Magnolia Warbler - 58
American Redstart - 34
Swainson's Thrush - 23
Tennessee Warbler - 17
Wilson's Warbler - 15
Blackpoll Warbler - 15
Common Yellowthroat - 15
Traill's Flycatcher - 14

Another mystery bird for you. A hint is in the text above. But then again, you will not need it since you are so good at identifying warblers...
While you are thinking here is a male and female Canada Warbler showing off their necklaces.

Never fear spring is not over yet! We netted 7 Blackburnian Warblers today and there were still some males around singing. Have a good day! Quiz bird answer is female Hooded Warbler.
I hope you guessed it correctly!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A spring's year average number of birds banded surpassed

Southwest winds produced another adequate busy day. This appears to be the normal this year of around a 350 new birds per day. Whew! It has been quite a spring for birds! We have surpassed an average spring for number of new banded birds. It is not a contest by any means. We are close to banding 8,000 birds for the spring and we have 20 days left. It makes me tired and wondering where are they are coming from? I will really be bored on a slow day after this spring. You get into the groove of things and expect the routine to maintain itself. The great volunteers and I will take whatever the birds give us, slow or otherwise.

The third wave has not hit yet. The Empidonax Flycatchers are not here yet. This southerly wind is produced by a high pressure system. When the low pressure cell brings up the tropical winds, the flycatchers will come.

Highlights for the day were an Orange-crowned Warbler and the two banded Connecticut Warblers we banded yesterday. There is still quite a variety of warblers around. We had 24 species including Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada.
Top 9 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 67
Wilson’s Warbler – 31
Swainson’s Thrush – 25
American Redstart – 24
Bay-breasted Warbler – 14
Nashville Warbler – 13
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 12
Gray Catbird – 12
Traill’s Flycatcher – 10
(Traill’s Flycatcher is given to the Alder/Willow Flycatchers. In banding we can only differentiate between the two by measuring wing feathers. The overlap is so great we can only determine about 10% of them.)

Here is a mystery bird for you! I have given it to you before so hopefully it looks familiar. I like its subtle colors. Enjoy!
How about the look of this lady Yellow Warbler?! The older females can have rusty streaks on their breasts but this one is lighter yellow than most males. I have been fooled on occasion with what I have called a second-year male was actually an older female. We caught them later in June and well let’s say I found them with brood patches. There is always something in nature to keep you honest and humble. The quiz bird is an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Light winds overnight help maintain bird diversity

High pressure created light winds overnight so I knew we were in for a slower day than the last few. This is welcome for us to take a breath or two. For some it is a slow day. I can enjoy the day and the birds on this kind of day. A day you would like to be fishing or birdwatching.

Two hundred seventy-two new birds and 126 recaptures were netted. Whew! I must say I will welcome a wind to move the banded birds north. Sounds like the next couple days will do just that. The winds are to turn south tonight and go southwest in the morning. Those birds should be outa here or most of them with this wind.

Highlights were our first Connecticut Warblers (2) and a female Scarlet Tanager. You don't usually say Connecticut Warblers the plural or it is unusual when birdwatching. We catch more Connecticuts in the fall than we do in spring. They are very confusing to birdwatchers then with their olive edging to their feathers that gives them a different look. No need to worry about mistaking one in the spring with the pewter head on the male with the eye ring that stands out in a crowd or in the bushes. Did I say that the eye ring stands out so much it says "Boing!" I guess you have to see one up close to understand that description.

Connecticut Warbler male with the pewter colored head.

Top 7 species:
Magnolia Warbler - 41
American Redstart - 20
Common Yellowthroat - 20
Yellow Warbler - 16
Ovenbird - 14
Gray Catbird - 13
Wilson's Warbler - 11

Second-year female Scarlet Tanager. Note the brownragged primary coverts contrasting with the secondaries.
I am unsure what this next SW wind will bring because it is a little early for the third wave to arrive. We shall have to wait and see. Or better yet, get outside and see what the next couple days will bring!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Northwest winds keep birds here

Northwest winds prevailed again lowering our catch to 458 new birds and increasing recaptures to 106. As expected not much movement out of the area occurred with the numbers of new banded decreasing from yesterday and the banded birds remained. I want to say a big “Thank You!” to my great volunteers who have continued to give it their all in this unusual volume spring. They are the best and assist in making this project run efficiently. My hat goes off to all of you!

We have maintained good diversity of warblers with 23 species again captured today with an additional Prothonotary Warbler who is on territory. Highlights for the day include a Kentucky Warbler male, 15 Cape May Warblers and 14 Northern Parulas. This has been a banner year for parulas. In an average year, we catch 9 and we caught 14 in one day! Everything is above average or working its way there. We have been fortunate to get the right weather and winds to bring them here.

Top 8 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 69
American Redstart – 34
Nashville Warbler – 26
Yellow Warbler – 22
Wilson’s Warbler – 21
Tennessee Warbler – 21
Swainson’s Thrush – 19
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 18

Here is the quiz bird for the day! They have been singing up a storm the past couple days! They sound like the cadence of putting your foot down on a sewing machine pedal and it goes real fast at the end.

Two neat features to see on an aerial feeding warbler (Amercian Redstart) (This is not the answer to the quiz bird): a wide beak similar to flycatchers and modifed feathers that look like whiskers called rictal bristals.

It sounds like this coming week is going to be a warm one. There is still time to enjoy the spring migration. Afterall, there is still a male Kirtland’s Warbler around so things are still happening!
Quiz bird is Tennessee Warbler.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Second pulse of the second wave hit today!

Did you know that the weather people do not always get the weather accurate?! Hmmmm! The warm front stuck around longer than predicted and was very warm this morning with the winds blowing out of the SW so that meant get your running shoes on at the banding station! The second pulse of the second wave materialized today in great fashion. I hope all of you got out to experience it because the Magnolias were dripping from the trees!

Our number one bird was Magnolia warbler with 124 new banded and another 558 other birds were banded. The highlights for the day were a beautiful female Golden-winged Warbler, a handsome male Blue-winged Warbler, and a second time ever captured on migration for us: Pine Siskin. For the day we netted 738 birds including recaptures. We caught a returning Indigo Bunting from last year. Take note of all the different looking Indigo Buntings out there when you are birding. They have some unique colorations of blues and browns. Some females are a chestnut coloration but others are more of a sand color.

Blue-winged Warbler male

Top 10 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 124
Tennessee Warbler – 58
Yellow Warbler – 46
American Redstart – 39
Gray Catbird – 34
Swainson’s Thrush – 30
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 24
Nashville Warbler – 23
Wilson’s Warbler – 21
Ovenbird -21

The cold front has made it here so tomorrow the birds will still be around for all to view! Lots of recaptures are in store for us. This year has been a good year with lots of volume of birds. We have exceeded our all time ever Nashville Warbler spring count of 383 as of this day.
Golden-winged Warbler female
Enjoy this female warbler. I believe there are some nice looking female warblers. They should get better looks from the bird watching community. Have a good day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

High pressure created an enjoyable day for birds

Light winds overnight after yesterdays strong winds made for an enjoyable day in the marsh for banding birds. A comfortable 250 new birds banded and 52 recaptures with the aid of great volunteers made the day great. Twenty-two species of warbler were seen/heard on site including Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada.

Highlights were another Philadelphia Vireo,Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and if I must say so myself one of the best looking female warblers there is. This one is sure nice looking don’t you think?
Top 7 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 28
Gray Catbird – 28----I really think Gray Catbird is the winner. They were everywhere!
Yellow Warbler – 25
Common Yellowthroat – 19
Nashville Warbler – 17
Tennessee Warbler – 12
American Redstart – 11

A quiz bird for you: (hint: you cannot see the leg color and that might have helped)
Here is another highlight. Take a look at this “old” lady—I can say that since I am both.

Indigo Bunting female
Look at all the blue on her! I know is it really blue or just and illusion?
A discussion that will go on forever with those who like the color blue.

So what was the quiz bird? Here is a picture hint: This is the male.

Blackpoll Warbler-note yellow feet and legs

Can you see any similarities among the male and female? If you do you will be way ahead by the time confusing fall warblers come around.

This weekend should be a good time for warblers and diversity. Don’t miss out! Tomorrow will be windy again and great chance of rain. We are to get hit with a quick warm front followed by a cold front. The sun will come out on Sunday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Acadian Flycatcher and an increase in Ruby-throated Hummingbirds today

Rain delayed the start of the day. However, it did not halt it altogether. We managed to muster 288 new banded birds with 68 recaptures for the day despite the strong 20 + mph winds out of the west for most of the day. Twenty-two warblers graced us with their presence including Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson’s, and Canada. The Prothonotary Warbler was heard in the buttonbush swamp to add another warbler species for the day.

Highlights include several Mourning Warblers, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, eight Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow.

Top 8 species:
Yellow Warbler – 35
Gray Catbird – 31
Magnolia Warbler – 29
Swainson’s Thrush – 17
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 13
Myrtle Warbler – 13
Ovenbird – 11
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 10

Take a look at this nice adult male Magnolia Warbler. It is probably a great grandpa of more than 4-5 years old with the solid black upper tail coverts and the large white spots on its tail.

Quiz bird:

The best field mark for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo when it is in flight is the contrast of the rufous wings and gray body. The tail spots are not the easiest to see nor is the bill color. The Black-billed Cuckoo has gray wings on a gray body. Yes, there is a slight reddish to the Black-billed wings but not enough to see in flight.

There is still time to enjoy the sights and sounds of spring bird migration! Migration is NOT over! Get out and have fun!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A surprise of a Winter Wren and a Hermit Thrush

Can you guess what kind of day it will be when you catch a Winter Wren and a Hermit Thrush? Yes, we were wondering why these slow birds were here. Slow to move north, meaning we have not seen a Winter Wren in 10 days and Hermits for several days. There are those that lag behind the others. Maybe they will help someone’s big day list and put their team in the lead!

The southeast winds improved our catch of new birds versus banded birds. Two hundred eighty-two new birds netted including 66 recaptures. Twenty-four warbler species were banded or observed on site. Those were Blue-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada. Magnolia Warblers are increasing in numbers. Maybe tomorrow they will drip from the trees if the winds don’t blow as much as the weather people say. They are predicting 20 plus miles per hour. It will be breezy out of the SW they say. So hold onto your hat!

Highlights for the day were seven Great Crested Flycatchers, a pair of Scarlet Tanagers, and a female Hairy Woodpecker. This year has been a banner year for birds and because of that we have surpassed the spring total of Western Palm Warblers for spring with a total of 290 to date.

What is this bird from the back?

Top 7 species:
Magnolia Warbler – 38
Gray Catbird – 35
Yellow Warbler – 28
American Redstart – 13
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 10
Swainson’s Thrush – 10
Veery – 9

Tomorrow should be a good day. It is hard to predict the extent of the bird movement because a cold front is following short after the warm front overnight. We shall see!

This is the front view---nice! (Rose-breasted Grosbeak)
AND now for the quiz bird of the day:

Have a good day!
(female Cape May Warbler)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Third day of lake winds produce low numbers but decent diversity

High pressure system overhead produced light winds overnight and lake winds during the day. With a lake wind for the third day, we expected smaller numbers of unbanded or new birds to be around. The variety of course is still here and will keep the birders happy. There was a few Blackburnian Warbler males singing, but of course they wanted to stay up in the trees for the day. They are still nice to hear even if I do not get to see them.

One hundred and eighteen new birds were netted including 66 recaptures. Warblers captured and seen/heard today were Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Wilson’s, and Canada.

It is always great to see the returning Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats. I can tell by the band numbers that they are not this year’s birds, as well as the band looks worn. Oh, to know what these birds have seen and where they have been!

Highlights for the day were a White-eyed Vireo and a Mourning Dove. The nets do not normally hold a large round bird like the dove for very long. We have to be in the right place at the right time to get the bird out of the net before it gets itself out.

Top 8 species:
Myrtle Warbler – 12
Magnolia Warbler – 11
White-throated Sparrow – 9
Nashville Warbler – 8
Yellow Warbler – 8
Common Yellowthroat – 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 8
Gray Catbird – 8

This male Black-throated Blue Warbler is looking mighty fine, don't you think?! If you look at the bird's primary coverts they are brownish and edged with green. This means it is a second-year bird and was hatched last summer. He will molt in black and blue primary coverts after this summer. He will look even better then!

Enjoy the Songs of spring!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nice variety despite the north winds

Another day of light north winds brought the expectation of lots of recaptures. However, with that we still managed a few new returning Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds. One hundred and six returning birds which are potential breeders in the area and two foreign recoveries (Sharp-shinned Hawk and Gray Catbird) have been recorded as of this date. The highlight of the day is very debatable but here it goes: was it the male Scarlet Tanager or the Male Mourning Warbler? Hmmm….
Three hundred twenty seven new birds and 105 recaptures were captured today. Whew! Those recaptures often take a little extra time to extract from the net with their jewelry attached to their leg. Twenty-one warbler species captured today. The Blackburnian Warbler was missing but there were plenty still singing overhead!
Guess who this teenage male is? This is what a second-year male American Redstart looks like in spring. A scruffy looking bird!

The Myrtle and Western Palm Warbler are still in the race for keeping on the top 5 list.

Top 8 species:
Myrtle Warbler – 44
Nashville Warbler – 27
Western Palm Warbler – 26
Yellow Warbler – 25
White-throated Sparrow – 23
Gray Catbird – 18
Ovenbird -14
Swainson’s Thrush – 14

Here is a tail quiz. You can ID this warbler by its tail.
Enjoy the Day!

I hope you guessed Prothonotary Warbler!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Northerly winds keep birds here in good numbers

Northwest winds held the birds on the beach ridge. Those we had not been able to capture because of the strong winds the day before were still around. A busy day of new banded birds and recaptures which is what was to be expected with the wind turnaround. For 8.5 hours we netted 500 new birds and 81 recaptures including 25 species of warblers.

Warblers included Blue-winged, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Yellow Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson’s, Canada and Yellow-breasted Chat.

Highlights for the day are Northern Parula, Orange-crowned Warbler, one Yellow Palm Warbler, Hooded, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Scarlet Tanager (male) (no females yet), and another Rusty Blackbird.
Top 8 species were:
Myrtle Warbler – 77
Nashville Warbler – 65
Magnolia Warbler – 45
Western Palm Warbler – 31
Yellow Warbler – 30
Gray Catbird – 29!
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 22 (Tracy’s Bird! She was happy today!)
White-throated Sparrow – 22

The White-throated Sparrows and Myrtle Warblers are mostly females; as they should be at this time in migration. The Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds are steaming in. More returning birds arrived today with another old Common Yellowthroat. This is an old lady who has made it to nine years and still ticking and flying! It goes to show that some birds can beat the odds!

The Orange-crowned Warbler is a favorite of mine. I have many favorites because who can say one is ugly when it comes to a warbler?! It may be tricky to some but after seeing them in the hand you get a better idea of what field marks to look for in the field. The yellowish wash on the breast with the gray streaks helps me quite a bit. Along with that characteristic is the split yellow eye ring and the yellow undertail coverts as a double check. The female Tennessee Warbler can look similar but will not have the gray streaks on the breast nor the yellow undertail coverts. Tennessee Warbler undertail coverts are white.
Notice gray streaks on breast. You can see a little orange on the crown but from a distance could you see it?!
See the yellow split eye ring? It works for me. Whatever characteristics work for you to identify it, use it! Everyone sees different features that work for them. The same goes for recognizing the songs.

The winds are to stay out of the north for a few days so these birds will be held up until the wind turns. Once it turns you can bet the trees will be loaded with Magnolia Warblers and the Swainson’s Thrushes will blanket the understory! Two gray birds I thought I would share with you. Do you know what they are? What two gray birds would you find normally this time of May? The bill shapes are different, and one has a complete eye ring and the other one is a split eye ring (trust me if you don't see it). The small gray bird on the left is the Least Flycatcher and on the right is a female Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Take time to enjoy the birds! They are only here for a short while. Have a good day!