Monday, August 27, 2012

End of Summer Season Highlights

When the Cicadas start buzzing, it's near the end of the breeding season for birds in our area. This summer has been unusually dry and berry production appears to be low for the early fruitbearers such as raspberries. These fruit producers provide food for many fledgling birds along with the bounty of insects in the marsh. Orioles, Yellow Warblers (YEWA), and Prothonotary Warblers (PROW) as well as Purple Martins (PUMA) and swallows are staging in the marsh region right now. Where they all come from is a mystrey but includes locally raised birds as well as dispersal and reverse migrants coming to the ample and dependable food base near the lake.

 Flycatchers are one of the first to begin the southerly journey each fall. Here are a couple species to compare bill size and color. Notice the dark bill on the Eastern Phoebe (EAPH). However, you can still see the remains of its fleshy gape in the corners of its bill and the inside of its mouth is orange instead of the black as in an adult matching the bill color.
Traill's Flycatcher (TRFL) left and Eastern Phoebe (EAPH) right

TRFL arrows point to rictal bristles which aid in fly catching and buffy wing bars which signify a hatching year flycatcher.
 Some additional highlights of the summer are as follows. Please enjoy.

Blue Grosbeak (BLGR) female-note bi-colored bill

Female BLGR

Male Eastern Bluebird (EABL)
Lark Sparrow (LASP)-note beak, it has been eating berries

LASP-had a brood patch-both sexes appear similar(Note tail markings)
Tufted Titmouse (TUTI)- Hatching Year bird with its yellow gape at base of bill

TUTI with tuft

To gear up for the fall let's add a Quiz Bird!  Here is one for you:

Quiz answer below.

By the end of August YEWAs, orioles, PROWs, and most flycatchers will have migrated south. Sometimes we can get a YEWA later in fall, but that is often an Alaskan bird showing larger size and a greenish cast to the feathers. Enjoy the fall season which is full of confusing fall warblers. They are a puzzle in their migration patterns as well as with their feather patterns. Get set for a great season!
Quiz Answer: Yellow Warbler with its yellow tail spots and all yellow plumage.

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