Monday, October 27, 2014

Navarre Update: October 20-26th

Fall songbird migration is winding down as an American Tree Sparrow (ATSP) graced us with its presence. The ATSP is a winter bird for Ohio, so that means only one thing: colder temps, and seed-eating birds will make up the majority of birds as cold weather closes in.

Some Hermit Thrushes (HETH) and Myrtle Warblers (MYWA) will stick around during winter with the MYWA switching to a berry diet of dogwood, sumac, etc. One of the diagnostic features of a ATSP is its dark breast spot. However, this bird (photo to the right) does not show this field mark but does possess the other identifying features including the bi-colored bill, chestnut cap and wings and clear breast. Just goes to show not all birds look like the photos or pictures in the book.

 We still had nine species of warblers for the week including: Orange-crowned (OCWA), Nashville (NAWA), Cape May (CMWA), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Myrtle (MYWA), Blackpoll (BLPW), American Redstart (AMRE), Ovenbird (OVEN), and Northern Waterthrush (NOWA).

A couple of warblers caused minor confusion for our great volunteers this week, so thought we would share:
OCWA left and NAWA right
Note: OCWA has split eye ring and NAWA has complete eye ring and yellow throat

Backs of OCWA and NAWA: OCWA is slightly larger

Both OCWA and NAWA have yellow undertail coverts

 An additional highlight of the week was a male Sharp-shinned Hawk. An older Adult with the ruby red eyes.
SSHA: courtesy of Laura Gooch

 Another harbinger of winter is the Pine Siskin (PISI).
Pine Siskin: with yellow on primaries and retrices

PISI: possesses a considerable amount of yellow on its back, a trait
that you do not always get to see when it visits your feeder or in the field
 Since we're talking winter birds, the Winter Wren (WIWR), which can be found hunting for dormant insects and spiders in the dead of winter in this area, has been in good numbers. A few House Wrens (HOWR) are still moving through the region as well. So we thought we would share some comparisons so that you can be up to speed in case you come across a wren in winter that may not be a Winter Wren.
WIWR-left and HOWR-right
Note: WIWR is darker on underside than HOWR

WIWR is smaller and has a more pronounced eye line than the HOWR.

WIWR left and HOWR right:
Undertail coverts are dark on WIWR and light on HOWR
This corresponds to the light and dark undersides of both birds mentioned above.

 Take time to enjoy the last warm days of fall. There may be a stray long distance warbler still lurking around.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Navarre Marsh Banding Update: October 12-19

Male Golden-crowned Kinglet
We are reaching the latter part of fall songbird migration season and the diversity is beginning to diminish; however, the past week recorded a nice variety of warbler species including Tennessee (TEWA), Orange-crowned (OCWA), Nashville (NAWA), Magnolia (MAWA), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Myrtle Warbler (MYWA), Black-throated Green (BTNW), Western Palm (WPWA), Blackpoll (BLPW), American Redstart (AMRE), Ovenbird (OVEN), Common Yellowthroat (COYE), and Northern Waterthrush (NOWA).

Sparrows have similar field markings but yet are so different. Having birds in the hand offers an opportunity to see what makes up the field mark as well as making size comparisons. Below are two sparrows with breast streaking, where one of the field marks is a dark spot in the center of its chest (Song Sparrow-SOSP) and the other with similar chest markings, but how the streaks come together on the breast do not make a "spot" (Fox Sparrow-FOSP).
SOSP and FOSP: See any "spot" on the SOSP?
Just a series of streaks coming together to form a "spot"
SOSP and FOSP: note bill coloration on both
Backs of the SOSP and FOSP: Note reddish tail of FOSP
Another comparison includes the two Zonotrichia sparrows,
White-throated (WTSP) and White-crowned (WCSP).
WCSP and WTSP: Front view showing bill coloration of both and breast markings. Both birds pictured are hatching-year (HY) birds. For WCSP, HY birds have brown head stripes while adults have black and white stripes on head. The WTSP age is determined by the gray-brown eye. An adult has a red-brown eye (difficult to call in the field through optics).
Generally WCSP are slightly larger than the WTSP
The backs of sparrows display a series of browns and tans
that are very beautiful.
Top: WCSP (HY bird)
 WTSP bottom
FOSP (L) and WCSP (R)
Note  growth bars on the tail of the FOSP depicting symmetrical molt of retrices.

Fall passerine migration will be continuing for at least another month as new species that we think as wintering birds will begin to make there appearance. 

For a broader scope of migration, take a look at the 2014 fall banding numbers and species on our website. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Navarre Marsh Banding Update: October 6 - 12

Southerly winds resulted in a lot of Blackpoll Warblers (BLPW) sticking around this past week as well as a few other warbler species. A total of 17 species of warblers were seen this week including: Tennessee (TEWA), Orange-crowned (OCWA), Nashville (NAWA), Northern Parula (NOPA), Magnolia (MAWA), Cape May (CMWA), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Myrtle (MYWA), Black-throated Green (BTNW), Bay-breasted (BBWA), Blackpoll, Black-and-white (BAWW), American Redstart (AMRE), Ovenbird (OVEN), Northern Waterthrush (NOWA), Common Yellowthroat (COYE), and a late Wilson's (WIWA). Hermit Thrushes (HETH), White-throated Sparrows (WTSP), and MYWAs began their descent upon the Marsh Region this past week. There were only a few Gray-cheeked and Swainson's compared to a week ago.

Some of the bird highlights this past week follow a theme of "Sharp or Pointed."

A female Cooper's Hawk made a return visit from the spring. She is very sharp in many ways, with her feisty behavior and her sharp talons including an exceptionally long halix or "hind claw."
COHA: Note the nice gray cap diagnostic of the species.

Talons of COHA
The hind toe, or "halix", is extra long for grasping and securing prey in the air
It is always a treat to have sparrows in the hand to admire their rich browns and tans. Below is a photo selection of the Nelson's Sparrow (NESP) we captured this week (only our 3rd in 25 years). This is an opportunity to share the beauty and fine features of this bird. This species was formerly known as the Sharp-tailed Sparrow but was separated from the Salt Marsh Sparrow. 
NESP: Gray cheek with gray nape

Characteristic "orangish" chest 

Gray nape shown better here.
NESP: Showing its "sharp tail"

 NESP: Showing tail with molt in left rectrices.

To continue on the theme of all things sharp and pointed...
YBSA: with sharp angular bill for pin-holing
Basswood and other trees for sap.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: HY male with red on throat.
YBSA: HY, sex unknown with no presence of red on throat.

This time of year is great to explore and sharpen your sparrow identification. Take time to enjoy the season!
Song Sparrow (SOSP) left and Fox Sparrow (FOSP) right

Monday, October 6, 2014

Navarre Marsh Weekly Banding Update: September 29th - October 5th

As fall makes its way into the region, it brings a few additional migratory bird species along with it. The last week of September through early October continues to record a good diversity of warblers.

The banding station recorded 18 species of warbler this past week including: Tennessee (TEWA), Nashville (NAWA), Northern Parula (NOPA), Magnolia (MAWA), Cape May (CMWA), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Myrtle (MYWA), Black-throated Green (BTNW), Pine (PIWA), Western Palm (WPWA), Bay-breasted (BBWA), Blackpoll (BLPW), Black-and-white (BAWW), American Redstart (AMRE), Ovenbird (OVEN), Northern Waterthrush (NOWA), Connecticut (CONW), and Common Yellowthroat (COYE).

BTBW: Hatching-year male: note green-edged primary coverts
MYWAs and WPWAs arrived with the cold front that came through last Friday. A few Golden-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes have also been banded. They are a couple of the last species to come south, since they are what is referred to as short distance migrants which do not leave the continental U.S. in winter.

Highlight for the past week were male and female Pine Warblers (PIWA).
This is a warbler that generally nests to our south. 
Adult male PIWA
Adult female PIWA: Note the yellow wash on her breast
For the seasonal summary check out the Navarre fall migration banding totals at BSBO research.
Stay tuned, as next week may well be filled with kinglets, White-throated Sparrows (WTSP), and Hermit Thrushes. The Fox Sparrow and Snowbird (Slate-colored Junco) won't be far behind.