Friday, October 30, 2009

Rare Visitor to the Beach Ridge

I suppose I caught everyone's eye by saying rare visitor. This bird is a rare visitor to the beach ridge. This species and the other forest guild of chickadees and titmice rarely make an appearance on the ridge. The winters are too harsh and cold from the lake conditions as well as little food is to be found. As I have said before, we usually have a pair of Black-capped Chickadees nest somewhere near the research site. This year we have had an abundance of chickadees and Downy woodpeckers. I am guessing that the winter was bad last year and mortality was high. Birds counteract a bad year with double-clutching (laying an extra set of eggs). I was initially thinking all the Black-caps we were catching were northern migrants; but since we were capturing just as many new (unbanded) Downy Woodpeckers that it must have been a poor survival winter in 2008 for most cavity nesting birds on the ridge. We have caught nine new chickades and usually we only catch one or two if we are lucky.
This is a female with a "gray" head and the male would have a black thick stripe on its head like the color of the nape on this bird. Note the lower mandible shape is chisel-shaped for probing underneath the bark for food items. (White-breasted Nuthatch)--Beautiful Bird!
This is a quiz bird from behind... My friend Dave Lewis can appreciate this bird since he takes the best bird behind pictures. The tail feathers (retrices) are coming in symmetrically from both sides. Symmetrical molt tells us it is an adult without looking at other feather features. Hatching year birds grow their feathers in all at once. Note the yellow tips on the retrices. Here is the front view! A Cedar Waxwing to brighten the day! A black throat indicates it is a male. Not all waxwings have wax on their wings. Most times it is age related as to how many wax tips they have.
Enjoy the few days of fall. Be on the lookout for the elusive Am. Tree Sparrow. Winter may be around the corner.

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