Monday, May 31, 2010

Highlights from the last few slow days...

It has been a slower than normal end of May for the Navarre Station. According to our 20+ records, this year is 30% down from our average spring captures. Mark Shieldcastle, BSBO Research Director has been inquiring around the banding community and the stations in the Midwest are down but has not heard from anyone from the East coast. Maybe that will be where the birds traveled north along the east coast this spring.
Here are some of the highlights of the past several days:
A female Cooper's Hawk graced the banding crew with its presence during the last round a couple days ago. It is hard to distinguish how big the bird is from the picture. She is as big as a crow but you can not tell it from this.
Another prize was this Yellow-breasted Chat. Never a dull day when this appears in your nets!

Today we caught a hatching year (HY) Brown Thasher. It is most likely a local bird, but since it could fly it was called a hatching year bird instead of local since it could have flown some distance before we captured it in the net. Note the HY bird has a gray eye versus the bright yellow eye of the adult.

Hatching year birds in summer have loose-textured undertail coverts like this one: Last night there was a southerly wind and we had some movement of flycatchers and Magnolia Warblers overnight. Another prize was this male American Woodcock. See how the eyes are set on the head that it can see in all directions including up top. I showed this earlier but I still think it is neat to see.
Check out the Spring Banding numbers at

Enjoy the last days of spring migration... Have you heard any Yellow-billed or Black-billed Cuckoos? And enjoy the songs and sights of summer!
Many Thanks to all the service men and women who have fought for our freedom and those that are doing it for us today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Filter migration occuring under high pressure system

For a day in May, it was very warm today. The bird activity was short lived today with the warm temperatures. Who would want to move around too much in this heat? The Navarre banding station had ninety-five new banded birds and 16 recaptures.

At BSBO, we had Woodmore elementary school make a visit and Education Director Ken Keffer and Executive Director Kim Kaufman enlightened the 2nd graders on how great the marsh region is for migratory birds. In the background an Acadian Flycatcher was trying to help us select our lunch menu. He kept saying "Piizzza!" It is flycatcher migration time, so all the Empidonax flycatchers are busy confusing most people with their wing bars, bi-colored beak, and eye rings; unless they sing of course!

Here is a Yellow-bellied and an Acadian Flycatcher:

Note the Yellow-bellied has a very rounded head, bright yellow eye ring, and a dark yellowish green belly. The Acadian has an elongated flatter head (not round), pale lower mandible compared to the other Empidonax's, pale belly, and a light yellow eyering. Probably in the trees the eye ring would not look yellow because it is so pale.

Top 7 species:
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL)- 13
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 10
Red-eyed Vireo (REVI)- 10
American Redstart (AMRE)- 9
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 8
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 8
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (YBFL)- 7

Thirteen species of warbler were heard or seen on the station today including:
Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackpoll, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's, Canada, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

A highlight of yesterday was this Eastern Screech Owl (EASO). It was banded here last June as an adult. They nest around the banding station and this one appears to hang out in the same area because we caught in the same group of nets. Don't ask me how I remember but you don't catch an EASO everyday so I am guessing that is why I remember. It was pretty cool to see and volunteer Jeanine thought so too!
An interesting thing about owls is that the leading edge of their flight feathers lack barbules to zip the feathers together or hold them together. This allows them to fly silently through the air.

Enjoy the week of flycatchers and vireos!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beautiful Summer Day in the Marsh

I think it is summer the way the weather was today! Despite the crazy weather and it looks like there is no change for the next week, we had 17 warbler species seen or heard in Navarre today including: Tennessee, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's, and Canada. There is still a nice variety of birds with many still needing to come through or with the weather lately may go around us. There are still vireos and flycatchers to go north along with some Mourning and Connecticut Warblers.

Ninety-four new banded species and 27 recaptures were the catch of the day. There were several large flocks of Cedar Waxwings flying around but none came to visit the nets.

Top 7 species:
Wilson's Warbler (WIWA)- 12
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 10
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL)- 9
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 9
Red-eyed Vireo (REVI)- 8
Mourning Warbler (MOWA)- 7
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 5
A common bird during the latter part of May. (Vireo De Ojo Rojo)

Here is another special cavity nesting bird of late spring. Nice rufous tail and you can see why it is called great-crested.
Most Great Crested Flycatchers you cannot age past after-hatch year but the condition of the primary coverts on this bird allows us to call it a second-year bird.
Take time to enjoy the late spring migrants!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BSBO Members Trip to the Banding Station brought smiles

BSBO Members had the opportunity to visit the Navarre banding station today. They were impressed by the diversity of birds we were able to show them. They got to see 12 species of warbler in the hand including a male Connecticut Warbler! Research Director Mark Shieldcastle expounded on the latest research findings and talked about how this spring's migration was playing out. Mark and Ken Keffer, Education Director showed examples of the species that were captured this morning. The Connecticut Warbler was a great grande finale!
Special opportunities like this are one of the great benefits of being an Observatory member!

One of the pretty birds of the day was this female Chipe De Pecho Castana. We caught one yesterday that was sharper looking than this one but this one is not bad looking. One hundred sixty-eight new birds today with 40 recaptures. Some of the birds from yesterday did not move on. Twenty-two species of warbler were seen or heard on site. Not a bad number of species for this time of the month.
Top 7 species:
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 29
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL)- 16
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 15
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 12
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (YBFL)-11
Wilson's Warbler (WIWA)- 11
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)- 11
Another week of good migrants to come so challenge yourself to identifying the females of the warbler species. Hint is to look for tail patterns in some and shadow of the field marks you see on the males. Have a good day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22nd Magnolia Warbler and Flycatcher Mania

A big day in the marsh resulted in no pictures being taken. Four hundred fifty-four new banded and 28 recaptures. I thought I was being invaded by flycatchers and Magnolia and Wilson's Warblers. Canada Warblers fell close behind. Most banding sites in the U.S. do not see half of the bird numbers we see here in the Lake Erie Marshes. This place is special to the birds, special to us that live here and special to those that visit and have experienced the songbird migration spectacle along the SW shore of Lake Erie. I take pride in our well-trained volunteers. We prepare them for days like these and that is where good training plays out in action and ensures bird safety first.

This is the top 7 species we banded today:
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 87
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL)- 67
Wilson's Warbler (WIWA)- 39
Canada Warbler (CAWA)- 36
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 33
Lincoln Sparrow (LISP)- 18
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (YBFL)- 18

A bunch of third wave species are starting to come in. The Swainson's Thrushes are still trying to keep up their end of the second wave of migrants along with the Magnolia Warblers.

Warm temperatures are slated for the next week. It appears a high pressure system will be overhead. Light winds will cause some ingress and egress of migrants but no spectacular influx is predicted.
Enjoy the weather and the birds! P. S. the return banded Common Yellowthroat from the other day was banded in 2006. He wore his band well. I thought it might have been a little older than that but it is still a major feat to survive this long with all the challenges they face on migration and on the breeding and wintering areas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Still a variety of warblers around...

Eighteen species of warbler were seen or heard at the banding station today including Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's, and Canada.

The more you see birds the more you realize that they don't always look like the pictures in the field guide. Take this bird:
It is definitely a Mourning Warbler but to say "Gee, that must be a female" might not be true. It sure could be an older female since the black on the chin/front is not on the chest as you would expect for a male. However, the wing chord of the bird was long and it was decided it was a male. I would rather have a DNA test to check for the official sex of the bird. This just goes to show not all birds fit the mold.

First species for the year and I am making it a Quiz bird. Here is the back:
One hundred forty new banded birds and 27 recaptures. We had a really old Common Yellowthroat male. I know because it was a returning bird with one of our bands. It is in the old paper database so it will have to wait a day or two to find out how old he really is. This will be exciting!
Top 7 species:
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)-25
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)-13
American Redstart (AMRE)-11
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)-8
Gray Catbird (GRCA)-8
Indigo Bunting (INBU)-7
Ovenbird (OVEN)-7
Quizbird from the side:
Now you can see the black bill. Black-billed Cuckoo. However, you do not need to see the bill to ID this as a Black-billed Cuckoo. It has a red eye ring and long tail and wings, and the wings are the same color as the back and tail. If the wings were reddish-brown contrasting with the brown body it would be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and they have a yellow eye ring. No need to look at the size of spots on the tail. The other field marks tell more than the tail spots.

And the grand finale is the best female warbler in the world!
The winds are to be south so make a good attempt to get outside this weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Second and third wave birds are fighting for first place

High pressure overhead is creating light winds overnight and during the day. The banded birds from the last couple days have moved north. One hundred fifty-six new birds with 37 recaptures was the catch of the day. Many female Mourning Warbler and American Redstarts which are the 3rd wave birds. If the winds shift to the south I still think we will get our Magnolia Warbler and Swainson's Thrush push but who knows. It still should be a good weekend to see warblers and other mid-month and late month migrants. Nineteen warblers were seen or heard on the beach ridge today including: Tennessee, 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, Wilson's, and Canada.
Top 7 species:
American Redstart (AMRE)- 25
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 20
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)- 15
Ovenbird (OVEN)- 12
Gray Catbird (GRCA)-11
Mourning Warbler (MOWA)- 9
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 9
This Canada Warbler is a second-year male. You can see it has off-color and abraded primary coverts which contrast with the gray lesser coverts. The black necklace on the chest is reduced in size as well. A word of caution if you only use the amount of speckling on the chest for identifying it as a second-year male since adult females can have some black feathers in their necklace.
Get out and enjoy Spring! It will be well worth your time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fourth Day of a Northeaster but still we have the birds

Well, never say you can figure out the birds completely because I was thinking we would have had a tough time reaching 50 new birds today; but instead we came out about even with number of recaptures and new birds. One hundred sixteen new birds and 107 recaptures including 20 warbler species for the site. Not a bad day and the sun finally did come out!

Here is one of the highlights of the day: Doesn't he glow?
Top 8 species:
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)- 11
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 11
Swainson's Thrush (SWTH)- 10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (RTHU)- 8
White-throated Sparrow (WTSP)- 7
Canada Warbler (CAWA)- 6
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)-5
Lincoln Sparrow (LISP)- 5
We also caught one of our banded Connecticut Warblers today. Here he is with his cousin of the smaller variety (the Nashville Warbler). There is quite a size difference in the beaks and head.
I also thought this was an interesting comparison below with the Warbling Vireo (left) and the Tennessee Warbler (right). The Tennessee is most likely a male with the gray head and green back. I would have liked to have a female which is more uniform greenish color on the head and back which may cause some to take another look to make sure they are looking at a Tennessee Warbler and not a Warbling Vireo. The bill shape of the Warbling Vireo has a hook on the tip and the bill is larger than the Tennessee but if you look at the field marks on the head they look similar.
When the winds turn to the south be ready to count the Magnolia Warblers. I think it might be in a couple days. Just in time for the weekend, maybe. Enjoy Spring!

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 16th and 17th

Northeasterly winds cut numbers in half from day before. I will share the highlights of both days. Sunday May 16th highlight was this bird:
A mighty spiffy looking After-second year male OROR (Orchard Oriole). A second-year male would be green where this one is burnt orange.
Top 9 species May 16th:
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 21
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 15
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)- 13
Wilson's Warbler (WIWA)- 11
Nashville Warbler (NAWA)- 8
Ovenbird (OVEN)- 8
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)- 7
Tennessee Warbler (TEWA)- 6
Lincoln Sparrow (LISP)- 6
Monday May 17th- another northeaster off the lake so numbers were half of Sunday's. We still managed a brightly colored bird. Take a look at this prize!
Eighty new banded birds with 74 recaptures. The birds are hanging out waiting for a good southerly wind to carry them north. Migrants are in good condition. The aerial foragers such as swallows and martins may have trouble feeding if the rain continues. Twenty-three species of warblers were seen or heard on site including Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, 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. The next southerly winds will bring the boat load of Magnolia Warblers! There is still a nice variety out there so do not stop your spring birding!

Top 6 species May 17th:
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)- 11
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 10
White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP)- 8
Canada Warbler (CAWA)-6
Blackpoll Warbler (BLPW)- 5
Tennessee Warbler (TEWA)- 4

This bird will peak in the next week along with the empidonax flycatchers-Are you all looking forward to the flycatchers!
Male Mourning Warbler

I thought it was interesting to recognize how large the bill is on a Prothonotary Warbler. This is a female we caught today. You don't always notice these things unless they are staring you in the face.
Isn't nature fascinating! Make ready for when the winds shift toward the end of the week!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First male Blackburnian Warbler for Spring!

Light NW winds allowed for some movement out of the beach ridge overnight. Lots of midges hatched for pletniful food source during the day to help the birds plump up for migration. Three hundred ninety-six new birds banded with 67 recaptures. I was thinking we would have a lot of recaptures after yesterday. I was thankful that we did not have that many.
Quiz picture #1 (I have to give you different angles---maybe you can get them correct with the back view)
Twenty-four warbler species were heard or seen on site including: Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Chipe de Garganta Naranja, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's, and Canada.

Quiz picture #2 (front view)

Top 12 Species:
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 55
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)-52
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)-30
Northern Waterthrush (NOWA)- 22
Wilson's Warbler (WIWA)- 21
White-throated Sparrow (WTSP)- 17
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)- 16
Chestnut-sided Warbler (CSWA)- 16
Canada Warbler (CAWA)- 15
American Redstart (AMRE)- 14
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL)- 14
Tennessee Warbler (TEWA)- 12

*Traill's Flycatcher= Willow or Alder Flycatcher. They cannot be distinguished in the hand. They do not sing in the hand, if they did we could ID all of them. There is a series of wing and bill measurements that can tease out about 10 % of the Willow and Alder Flycatchers, otherwise they are recorded as Traill's Flycatchers in the banding data.

Quiz picture #3 (whole bird-side view)
Take a look at this mature female Black-throated Blue Warbler. She is so mature she is getting some black on her throat.
The best warbler ever is the Blackburnian Warbler also known as "Cheeto head" in my book. This is why:(see any resemblance to the color of a Cheeto? Male Blackburnian Warblers look like their head has been stuck in a Cheeto bag don't they?)

Lots of third wave songbirds coming in force but not many vireos or flycatchers as of yet... Stay tuned... There is still the second pulse of the second wave of songbirds to come before the third wave. That means more Magnolia Warblers!

Answer to the quiz is Orange-crowned Warbler and Tennessee Warbler. See the difference in the coloration on the chest of these two birds? Gray streaking on the Orange-crowned versus no streaking on the Tennessee Warbler. Also the Tennessee has white undertail coverts and the OCWA has yellow. That is usually the end (underside) you see so this tip may be helpful. Enjoy a good day birding!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Bird Day Sunshine!

The sun did shine today on the outside and on the inside. What a day to be outside! I hope all of you had a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. The BSBO research team was hard at work today as it has been for the past month. Our research provide important information on bird timing, habitat use, and monitor condition of migratory songbirds to help the general public as well as State and Federal land managers improve their lands for migratory birds. Research is teamed with education at the Observatory to promote bird conservation. You can see it on the ground inspiring people to appreciate birds and to better understand what their needs are. We do this with our school education programs, public banding demonstrations (there is one tomorrow at 10:00 AM (Saturday)), Ohio Young Birder's Club (They have a field trip tomorrow too!), and by the dedication of the Observatory volunteers spending many many hours behind the scenes and out front to ensure the public's experience is good. Knowledge is power they say!

The second wave of songbirds finally hit NW Ohio. Gray Catbirds and Magnolia Warblers were the common birds of the day. Fifty-one bird species were captured in the mist nets including such highlights as two Connecticut Warblers and several Lincoln Sparrows. Twenty-seven warblers were seen or heard at the station including Blue-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Prairie, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Connecticut, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson's, and Canada.
Female Northern Parula. Note the green triangle on the back and the bi-colored beak. Beautiful Bird!
Top 8 species:
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 111
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 103
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)- 49
American Redstart (AMRE)-41
White-throated Sparrow (WTSP)- 35
Northern Waterthrush (NOWA)- 31
Ovenbird (OVEN) - 30
Least Flycatcher (LEFL)- 20

The winds are to be NW tomorrow going easterly for Sunday so tomorrow will be a good day to see a nice diversity of birds. Hopefully the Kirtland's will make a showing for the birdwatchers for the weekend festivities. Sharing another great bird with you. This is an After-second year FEamle Hooded Warbler with a partial hood. Some females have a shadow of a hood and depending on the genetics they can have a partial hood like this lady!

I liked the top view of her. You can see her white tail spots in her outer tail feathers. This is another diagnostic characteristic of a Hooded Warbler. Have a good Saturday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Canada Warbler for the spring!

Strong cool winds kept the swallows and martins swooping low to find food. This allowed us the opportunity to catch and adult male Purple Martin and Barn Swallow in the nets. The same species were dominant that have been for the past few days with Nashville Warbler and Yellow Warblers taking the lead. Nineteen species of warbler were seen or heard on site today including Tennessee, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Western Palm, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Canada.

One hundred and three new banded birds with 43 recaptures were the catch of the day which included 31 bird species in 145.6 birds/100 net hours of effort.
Top 5 species:
Nashville Warbler (NAWA)-14
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)-10
White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP)- 7
Veery (VEER)- 7
Red-winged Blackbird (RWBL)-6

Enjoy the nice looks at this Canada Warbler! Winds are to be southwest overnight; so tomorrow is looking like a day to be out early to enjoy the second wave of songbirds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lake winds hold bird diversity

I am beginning to think it is April instead of May due to the temperatures, except the bird species indicate otherwise. One hundred twenty-four new banded birds with 55 recaptures. The banded Common Yellowthroat a couple days ago is seven years old and counting. Twenty species of warbler were seen or heard today including Golden-winged, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Hooded.

Highlights for the day include Purple Martin, three Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and an Eastern Kingbird.

Top 7 species include:
Nashville Warbler (NAWA)- 26
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)- 11
Ovenbird (OVEN)- 11
Gray Catbird (GRCA)- 9
Red-winged Blackbird (RWBL)- 5
Lincoln Sparrow (LISP)- 5
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA)- 5

Rain tomorrow means the warm front will be near. I believe Friday may be the pick day. It just depends on how far north the front comes tomorrow.

Enjoy the girl pics:

Let's Hear it for the GIRLS!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Northeast winds keep the birds in the area

After a busy weekend with International Migratory Bird Day celebration, the birds decided to stay for a while. No, the winds are not favorable for heading north. Check out for the highlight at the Navarre banding station this weekend. They caught a male Cerulean Warbler while I was not there. It would figure.

Today we had 70 new birds with 58 recaptures. Nineteen warblers were seen or heard in the marsh including: Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Western Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, and Common Yellowthroat. Of course the highlight was the female Golden-winged Warbler!
She is beautiful from the back as well!
Top 5 species:
Gray Catbird (GRCA)-8
Yellow Warbler (YWAR)-7
Northern Cardinal (NOCA)-5
Common Yellowthroat (COYE)-5
Red-winged Blackbird (RWBL)-4

We caught several Baltimore Oriole females today. Some would be considered males from a distance. Like this one with the dark head which is an ASY (after-second year) female.
It has no black pattern to the tail and it has dark brown feathers on the wings as opposed to having any black feathers on the wing. It is a tough call from a distance to tell the sex of this bird and sometimes differentiating between dark brown and black on the wing is not easy either. I have seen similar dilemmas with winter plumaged American Goldfinches with black wing feathers versus brown wings on females.

Tomorrow's forecast is for rain but if not a downpour the birds will be out. So if you don't mind a little precipitation get outside and enjoy. It will be warmer than it has been all weekend!