Monday, August 31, 2009

High pressure trickles in some birds

What a difference a night makes! Calm winds brought in some birds to the beach ridge. Fifty-five new birds and 3 recaptures is quite a difference from the past several days and I will take it! Highlights today were Wilson’s Warbler and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Eight warbler species were captured today plus a Yellow Warbler was observed on site. The warbler species captured were Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-White, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s, and Canada.

Quiz bird for you:
Top seven species:
Magnolia Warbler – 13
Ovenbird – 4
Red-eyed Vireo – 3
Gray Catbird – 3
Wilson’s Warbler – 2
Northern Waterthrush – 2
Common Yellowthroat -2
Warbling Vireo - 2
We also caught another bird wearing a wet suit! Here he is! It is a running joke at the banding station. A volunteer said Cedar Waxwings look like they are wearing a wet suit since they are so slick looking! This waxwing is a male with a very black throat patch. Here is a picture of the whole quiz bird. Does this help any? Notice no tail spots that is a hint (It is not a Yellow Warbler)!
You can see a faint shadow of a gray cap. Hmmm... The male would have a black cap. Are you getting closer to the correct identification of this bird? This is a female Wilson's Warbler! She is so tiny, yet she has traveled several hundred miles from the boreal forests of Canada and is headed for southern Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, south to parts of Panama. We wish her a safe journey!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ho Hum weekend for migrants on the beach ridge

Saturday and Sunday were sleepers for birds on the Navarre Beach Ridge. There were times I was wishing for cameras on the nets to tell me where to retrieve a bird and not have to walk to all the nets. Yes, I need the exercise but after a while it gets old or is that me? Okay for the combined total of 2 days we caught 30 new birds and 4 recaptures! Yippee!! There were some nice ones so I will share them with you. By the way, at least on the Navarre Beach Ridge I cannot predict good bird days in the fall even though I may try. I have said it before and will say it more times. You just have to go out and enjoy what is there. The peak of fall songbird migration is in a couple weeks. One cannot expect a big movement in August, right? And one cannot expect the temperatures to be in the forties at night in August either? Okay, the highlights of the weekend were: 6 species of warbler (Tennessee, Yellow, Prothonotary (another adult male!), Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada Warbler), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush-first for the fall, and a Cedar Waxwing (or as some say the bird wearing the wet suit!).

A few of the highlights were these two birds of the same species and sex but different ages. Can you tell which one is the hatching year bird and which one is the after hatching year bird? You don’t have to look at the primary coverts on these birds to see which one is the adult bird and which one was hatched a couple months ago. Note the breast streaks on the hatching year bird are smaller and black. A female would have gray streaks or spots.

Canada Warblers as I have said before are an early fall migrant so if it is your favorite bird get out and see it!

Enjoy the fall flycatchers as well! This one is quite yellow with a yellow eye ring and wing bars which makes it a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bright spots despite the slow start to fall...

The past three days have been hit or miss and mostly a miss as far as the birds being on the Navarre site. However, we must realize it is the beginning. This happens every year so I just take what comes and enjoy it.
Of course we must have a quiz bird...
Can you not see the beauty in the feathers of this bird?! (and its white handkerchief!)

I had been hearing Brown Thrashers around the site but they have been shy and have not showing themselves until today. Here is a hatching year bird with a not-so-yellow eye. At least it was not as bright as the adult's eye. It has some tan or brown in the iris.
Speaking of hatching year birds take a look at this one. Can you tell it is a very quiet bird!

The Eastern Kingbird is another bird that will be heading south in the near future with the other flycatchers. A flycatcher must migrate early because of its prey/food source.

And the answer to the quiz bird is:

This is a Hatching Year male Black-throated Blue Warbler. Look at the wing and the primary coverts are edged with green from the quiz picture. Otherwise it is one handsome dude!
The Observatory Window on Wildlife today had some warblers visiting the water feature (Common Yellowthroat, Mourning Warbler, and Nashville Warbler).
Take some time to enjoy the birds. Patience will pay off!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall season initiation or initialization?

For August the weather is seasonable, full of pest insects, and the usual migrants are appearing. This is the tail end for Yellow Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, and Baltimore Orioles. With a high pressure overhead and today a southwest wind there was not much action birdwise. I did hear a few flyover warbler chips—this means that warblers were giving their chip call as they flew over-not flying warbler chips...

This female Prothonotary Warbler graced us with her presence. She did not cooperate to show you the white markings on her tail. This is the best method for determining hatching year males from females. It can be used in the adults but usually the adult males are glowing and the adult females are only beaming in coloration. The female tail pattern has reduced white and the gray and white on the tail is a blurry line instead of large white spots on a male and crisp delineation of white and gray on adult males.

I have to start the season with a quiz bird. This makes you better at identifying birds or so I am lead to believe. Here is part one:

Speaking of Baltimore Orioles earlier. Here is a nice adult female which I admit is hard to tell that the dark feathers are dark brown in the picture. Most times pictures do not do birds justice and here it makes it difficult for the observer to see what I am talking about.

This bird was also captured with a previously broken leg that had healed. Seeing the knob on the leg indicated it was not a fresh wound. The foot was working fine. We sent her on her way wishing her a safe journey south with most leaving the country for Mexico to Panama.

Quiz bird Part 2:

Note on the first photo you could see a split eye ring and a small pointed bill. It is not good to go off of bill color here. So how many of you have really looked at a bird. I may be causing you to look a little closer at the bird than you normally would. This photo shows the bird with wing bars. Are you getting closer to deciphering the bird?

How about a Hatching Year Wood Thrush to make you smile?! Why should you smile? Well, a Wood Thrush nest is one of the most sought after by Brown-headed Cowbirds to lay their eggs in. To see a young Wood Thrush means the species won this battle and raised a bird or two that were not cowbird offspring. Note the loose juvenile undertail coverts and the exceptionally gaping beak. You have to be cautious with thrush beaks because they always have some fleshy gape to them.

Okay the final part 3 of the quiz bird:

Note the white tail band that is present all year around unless of course it loses its tail feathers. See the yellow breast with fine blurry streaks on the flanks. The blurry streaks signifies it is a female. Great job if you deciphered this before the final clue!

Many thanks to our Director, Kim Kaufman, for pitching in today! Fall season people are not as enthused to volunteer with the temperatures and bugs and ugly birds-okay they are not as pretty as in spring.

Enjoy the early fall season because some of your all time favorites will be gone soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tail end of breeding season....

You could tell it was the end of breeding season. It was very quiet in the marsh today. There were a few hatching year birds with some adults still singing now and again. Every so often I would hear a Yellow Warbler or a Baltimore Oriole sing a short tune.

The excitement was a flicker and a woodcock! The flicker was as quiet as always. NOT! What a squawker! Note the loose juvenile feathers on this bird below.

And not only was the American Woodcock cool to look at with its flexible bill, and the eye arrangement so it can see 360 degrees to detect predators; the bird told us what it thought of us when we released it on the trail from the banding table: It strutted away from the table with its short tail raised and flaired as if to say this is what I think of you! I guess you had to see it for yourself. Something you can see is the woodcock we caught was a male by the narrow outer three primaries. This is what makes the twitter sound during courtship.

Picture of the top of its head where both eyes are visible.

As the season dwindles, take note of the early migrants heading south in August: Yellow and Prothonotary Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and flycatchers. Enjoy the season!