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

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