Monday, April 29, 2013

Highlights for Week April 22-28th

The Neotropic migrants are slowly making their way north. This week saw considerable lake winds which kept numbers down along the Navarre beach ridge. The cooler temps along the lake have slowed the leaf out so the birds are easier to see in the marsh region right now. It will not take long for buds to pop which will start happening with the warmer temps forecast for this week.

Myrtle Warblers (MYWA) are on the increase as are the Ruby-crowned Kinglets (RCKI) with both species turning over to females. The next SW breeze will bring in the first wave migratory songbirds to the area. We have seen some early one-ofs, but this next burst of warm tropical air will bring the myriads of migrants and keep them coming until the end of May!

Speaking of MYWAs, can you tell me what age and sex this MYWA is? One of the advantages of bird banding is the ability to accurately age and sex them. There are some species where both sexes look similar (monomorphic). Sex cannot always be determined and research there's often an overlap in wing measurements making it next to impossible to separate many males from females. Obtaining demographics of a bird population is important in knowing how well the species is doing. If there were only older birds in the population and very few birds hatched the previous year, also known as Second-year birds (SY), then a red flag of concern for its well being and future should be raised.

Note the blue arrow pointing to the primary coverts below. The coloration of the coverts are dull brown and worn which tells us that the bird was hatched last year and is a second-year bird. It can be identified as a male with the large black mask and vest. 

Sixteen species of warbler were seen or heard this past week including Blue-winged Warbler (BWWA), Orange-crowned Warbler (OCWA), Nashville Warbler (NAWA), Yellow Warbler (YEWA), Myrtle Warbler (MYWA), Black-throated Green Warbler (BTNW), Yellow-throated Warbler (YTWA)*, Pine Warbler (PIWA), Western Palm Warbler (WPWA), Blackpoll Warbler (BLPW), Black-and-white Warbler (BAWW), Prothonotary Warbler (PROW), Northern Waterthrush (NOWA), Common Yellowthroat (COYE), Hooded Warbler (HOWA)*, and Yellow-breasted Chat (YBCH)*.

*Denotes birds only seen at Navarre, the others were actually banded at the station.

We had the opportunity to compare a PROW and a YEWA in the same net check, This is a rare opportunity to share the two "yellow" birds with you.

Note the differences in overall body size, bill size, wing coloration, and tail spot coloration on the two to assist you in determining what "yellow" bird you have.
PROW -on left and YEWA on Right
Note: PROW has white tails spots and
YEWA has yellow tail spots (they are hidden or not as visible in this photo)
Other highlights for the week:


Back of a male SY Cooper's Hawk (COHA)
SY male Cooper's Hawk with vertical streaking on chest and buffy colored tips to back feathers makes it easily ID'd as a SY bird.
Quiz bird?!- this is the first of the year for us!

Female Red-winged Blackbird (RWBL) - aged as an After-second-year bird because of her bright red lesser coverts.
Side view of the beautiful RWBL-note nice triangular bill shape as you see on all birds in the blackbird family.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female- note the white wing patch
And it is a female because ..... it has a white throat instead of a red throat. Males have red on top of head and throat. Look for sapsucker drills on soft wooded tree trunks. they form horizontal rings around the trunk.

Stay tuned, the full first wave of songbirds will be arriving soon! Hope you get outside to enjoy spring!

Quiz bird answer..... Gray Catbird (GRCA) stay tuned for more GRCAs will be arriving soon in the second wave of migrants which usually occurs around May 7th-13th.

Also BSBO is hosting public banding demonstrations every Saturday in May at the Observatory. Time is 10:00 - 11:30 AM with extended hours on May 11th from 7 AM - noon.

Follow the migration with BSBO and Kenn Kaufman with our migration blog

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Observatory Migration Research Has Begun April 15-21st

The spring migration banding research has begun for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and there was no easing into the season. We had 10 species of warblers this past week including Orange-crowned Warbler (OCWA), Nashville Warbler (NAWA), Yellow Warbler (YEWA), Myrtle Warbler (MYWA), Black-throated Green Warbler (BTNW), Pine Warbler (PIWA),Western Palm Warbler (WPWA), Black-and-White Warbler (BAWW), Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA), and Common Yellowthroat (COYE).

Soon we'll have to say good bye to the wintering birds such as American Tree Sparrow and the early March species like the Fox Sparrow (FOSP), Golden-crowned Kinglet (GCKI), and everyone's friend the Winter Wren (WIWR). But we'll open the door for the next group of species arriving in the Lake Erie Marsh Region.
FOSP: note reddish tail 

FOSP: note bi-colored bill

GCKI: male with orange and gold surrounded by black on head
Male Red-breasted Nuthatch (RBNU) - male has black cap and eye stripe
The first wave of migrants will be arriving soon with a warm burst of wind from the SW (Average 24 April). We have had some pre-wave migrants along with  Hermit Thrushes (HETH) rolling into the area as well as male MYWAs. With the strong SW wind last week we had a few individuals show up that won't peak until the second wave such as Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and  Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Other first-wave birds include bird species that over fly their normal breeding range. These include species that we see a few of in mid-to-late April such as the Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) and Summer Tanager (SUTA). However, the Summer Tanager has been expanding its breeding range north so its natural history is changing presently.

Louisiana Waterthrush (LOWA) with the thick white eye stripe and bubble gum colored legs.
LOWA also has clear undertail coverts, while the Northern Waterthrush has
 brown streaking in that area. 
Some Highlights for the week:
White-eyed Vireo (WEVI)

Male American Kestrel (AMKE)

Black-throated Green Warbler (BTNW)

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (RBGR)

RBGR: note white wing markings at the base of the primary feathers.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (SSHA
Second-year (SY) with vertical streaks on chest.
Adult male Summer Tanager (SUTA)

Look for the first wave of migrants this coming week to occur with male Myrtle Warblers, White-throated Sparrow, male Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes bringing in the lead. Check Kenn Kaufman's Birding Pages for up to date migration reports and predictions.
Get outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of spring!