Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Third Wave birds are here!

The third wave of migrants has arrived. The wave of the Empidonax Flycatchers and vireos. Mourning (MOWA), American Redstart (AMRE), Female Magnolia (MAWA), Canada (CAWA), Wilson's (WIWA), and Connecticut Warblers (CONW) will round out this wave. Yellow-billed (YBCU) and Black-billed Cuckoos (BBCU) will peak their migration for spring. They always seem to provide the grand finale for the season, bringing up the end with a flash of their tails! 

Philadelphia Vireo
We have had several days this week May 21st - 28th of double digit Philadelphia Vireos (PHVI). What a nice vireo to see in good numbers. Just two years ago, we captured only one the whole season! It demonstrates the importance of long-term monitoring as one year alone will not solve the puzzle of migration and a species population. If there was subsequent years of lower numbers then a closer look would be required.

Second year male SCTA

A highlight of the week was this male Scarlet Tanager (SCTA). There had been two singing for several days but too high to be caught in our mist nets which are 8 feet high. Notice the primary coverts are dull brown which makes this a second-year male hatched last summer. You can see remnants of his winter/basic plumage of the lime green feathers.

Female warblers can have their subtle beauty. Take a look:
Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warbler females

Bay-breasted Warbler female back

MOWA- Adult female-note yellow throat and unusual black feathers.

We had the opportunity to show off the flycatcher group this week:

Can you ID these flycatchers?
Here are two of them, frontal view.

 Answers found at the end.

Here is a real treat - an Olive-sided Flycatcher (OSFL)

OSFL- note the large bill and gray vest it is sporting.

Eastern Wood-Pewee (EAWP)- note the crest (not often seen)

 Eastern Wood-Pewee (EAWP), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (YBFL), Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL), Great-crested Flycatcher (GCFL), and Olive-sided Flycatcher (OSFL).
The end of migration may only be days away but the cuckoos will be here to sing their song.  This is the time we look forward to the great breeding birds we have in our backyards! Thanks for all you do to allow some of these long distance migrants to nest successfully in your neighborhood. With banding data we know many birds return to their natal area to breed. Females have high site fidelity. We have caught 57 Yellow Warblers (YEWA) banded in previous years.  To see other species returning go to BSBO research pages Enjoy the beauty of the season!

All Empidonax flycatchers have wing bars, eye-rings and bi-colored bills. Answer to left photo quiz :Two YBFLs (left and center) and Acadian Flycatcher (ACFL) on right. Bird bellies photo shows ACFL on left and YBFL on right. YBFL has a dark green throat and belly and orangish bill and ACFL has lighter belly and throat and really pale lower mandible.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 7th- May 13th Highlights

A busy time in the marsh region both at the research banding station and around NW Ohio.  The Biggest Week in American Birding is over but there are still birds to come. Flycatchers and vireos have not made their debut yet.

For the past four weeks the research team has had 181 banded birds returning from previous years. This is quite a significant group of birds and supports how birds home to the same area to breed each year. Something to remember when we see development in and near green spaces. There is an irreversible loss whenever habitat is taken and wildlife displaced.

A surprise this spring was this American Tree Sparrow (ATSP) which had an extended visited into early May. This is a good bird to add to any Ohio May list.

 Some other sparrows for comparison:

Take a look at these pink beaked sparrows.
White-crowned Sparrow and Field Sparrow

The weather patterns this spring have not been conducive for major pushes of birds. High pressure systems have dominated the region for most days the past couple of weeks. Diversity is here but not the volume of birds we saw last year.

We have had male Scarlet Tanagers (SCTA) singing at the research station but none have visited the banding table. However, one female came by for a quick visit. For those unfamiliar with Scarlet and Summer Tanager females, this wing flap of this Scarlet shows white axillaries while the Summer Tanager (SUTA) female shows yellow axillaries.

It is always a pleasure to have a Connecticut Warbler (CONW) visit our nets. This day we had two male CONWs and two male Mourning Warblers (MOWA).

On 13 May we were graced with many Chestnut-sided Warblers (CSWA). Twenty were banded that day and seven were caught in one net check.

Spring is the time to enjoy the colors of birds. We catch considerably more Blackpoll Warblers (BLPW) in the fall with their differential migration path. They fly from NW Canada southeast to the mid-Atlantic coast. In the spring they fly a more northerly direction from Venezuela resulting in fewer in the region.
Take a look at this handsome male BLPW. Despite his vivid coloration, he is still a second year bird (SY). Note its primary coverts are dull brown and worn.

Another good look at both male and female BLPW.

Highlights for this time were Cape May Warbler (CMWA). 

Note the back coloration.

Orange-crowned Warbler (OCWA)

Bay-breasted Warbler male (BBWA)

And to top it off a couple females in blue:

Cerulean Warbler (CERW)

Black-throated Blue Warbler (BTBW)

Keep looking for southerly winds to create the opportunity for birds to ride north to Ohio on their way to their breeding grounds. 

Enjoy the season!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Few Good Birds this week in NW Ohio

The week of April 23 was not a knock out bird number wise but resulted in good opportunities to teach our new volunteers and give them one on one training. The week had good diversity but little volume due to the lake winds blowing on the beach ridge. Seven species of warblers were captured this week (Yellow (YEWA), Western Palm (WPWA), Black and White Warbler (BAWW), Myrtle Warbler (MYWA),  Black-throated Green (BTNW), Pine (PIWA), Nashville Warbler (NAWA)) and 11 species of warblers were seen/heard at the station.
Back/top view of a BTNW male
BTNW male-note facial pattern-definitive for this species

Highlights for the week were capturing a Red-headed Woodpecker (RHWO) and a banded Red-bellied Woodpecker (RBWO) in the same net. They were very vocal as these woodpeckers normally are and could be heard several nets away. The RBWO was banded in 2011 and the RHWO was banded this week as a Second Year bird (SY). Note the brown primary coverts on the RHWO.

Other highlights were a result of the cooler temps from the lake winds which brought the swallows down to lower heights in search of insects. A few found their way into our nets. This gave us an opportunity to see birds that  spend a lot more time on the wing than in the hand. Barn Swallows (BARS), Tree Swallows (TRES), and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow (NRWS).

We had a view of a "rough wing" up close and personal. Little is mentioned in the literature on the reason for the "rough wing" on this species. Some think it may be used in courtship. The leading edge of the wing has serrations and  the shape of these serrations determines the sex and age of the bird. How cool it is that?

Here is the NRWS wing.

Compared to a TRES wing.

And who can resist the close-up look at BARS?

Starting 30 April wind shifts promise for good movements. Follow the latest with Kenn Kaufman and BSBO to see how migration unfolds along Ohio's Great Lake. Take time to enjoy the early season.