Sunday, May 17, 2015

Navarre Update for Week of May 4-10th

This was a week of birds and birdwatchers! With the Biggest Week in American Birding kicking off the Lake Erie Marshes once again proved itself as a bird magnet with great stopover habitat for birds and birders both.

This week started full of birds from the first wave and at the end as the second wave birds started to appear. Ruby-crowned Kinglets (RCKI) exited the area and Magnolia Warblers (MAWA) began what should be a major push through the region. 
The week showed a great diversity of warblers including Ovenbird (OVEN), Worm-eating (WEWA), Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes, Golden-winged (GWWA), Blue-winged (BWWA), Black-and-white (BAWW), Prothonotary (PROW), Tennessee (TEWA), Orange-crowned (OCWA), Nashville (NAWA), Mourning (MOWA), Common Yellowthroat (COYE), Hooded (HOWA), American Redstart (AMRE), Cape May (CMWA), Northern Parula (NOPA), Magnolia (MAWA), Bay-breasted (BBWA), Blackburnian (BLBW), Yellow (YEWA), Chestnut-sided (CSWA), Blackpoll (BLPW), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Western Palm (WPWA), Myrtle (MYWA), Black-throated Green (BTNW), Canada (CAWA), and Wilson's (WIWA).

As the Second Wave birds started in earnest the orioles and grosbeaks did not disappoint. Here is a Second year (SY) male and an After-second (ASY) year male Grosbeak for comparison:

RBGR- ASY male top and SY male bottom
Primary coverts on SY are 1st basic and worn

Note: SY male tail and ASY male RBGR tail 

Some Highlights for the week:
Female Orchard Oriole (OROR)
Note bi-colored bill

Age of the female OROR is second-year (SY)
Note: dull Primary coverts thus SY aged bird 
GWWA female
Note: Gray mask instead of black mask of the male

Back of GWWA Female
Note:Golden wing bars
CERW male
Usually a bird of the tree tops it is seldom captured in mist nets.

CERW male front
Note: white throat and black small necklace

CERW male back
Prepare for a good week of birds ahead as the second wave heats up. Join us for the public banding demonstration on Saturday at the Observatory from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Navarre Marsh Banding Station Update: April 28 - May 3rd

April ended with cooler temps and little movement of spring migrants. Since the birds were backed up by the easterly and northerly winds it has been like opening flood gates once a favorable wind came. Starting on Friday the wind pattern we have been waiting for started. Twenty species of warblers were observed and/or captured including: Ovenbird (OVEN), Worm-eating (WEWA), Northern Waterthrush (NOWA), Golden-wing (GWWA), Blue-winged (BWWA), Black-and-white (BAWW) Prothonotary (PROW), Orange-crowned (OCWA), Nashville (NAWA), Common Yellowthroat (COYE), American Redstart (AMRE), Northern Parula (NOPA) Blackburnian (BLBW), Yellow (YEWA), Blackpoll (BLPW), Black-throated Blue (BTBW), Western Palm (WPWA), Pine (PIWA), Myrtle (MYWA), and Black-throated Green (BTNW). 

Banding gives an opportunity to acquire more definitive population information such as age ratios and sex of some species. More work is needed on many passerines to determine sex in monomorphic species.
With the southerly winds, thousands of Blue Jays (BLJA) were observed migrating. This species prefers to not cross open water and can be observed milling about and backtracking along the lakeshore. Shown below is a BLJA wing showing the primary coverts which generally is only molted once a year (each Summer during the basic molt) which provides a good indicator for ageing many passerines. This is a combination of wear differences of a hatching year bird growing all feathers at once and an adult that is conducting a sequential molt resulting in stronger feather structure.

BLJA SY (Second-year) Hatched last summer.
Note primary coverts are dull gray blue with no barring in the feather
BLJA ASY (After second-year) wing.
 Note barring on primary coverts and nice blue iridescence.
One of the highlights this week was the capture a male Whip-poor-will (WHIP). Males have white spots on their tail and a white ring under their chin.
Male WHIP with white white collar
Note long rictal bristles(look like cat whiskers) to aid in capturing bugs
Male WHIP large white tail spots
  Females have a tannish ring under their chin and tan tail spots.
Female WHIP with tan collar
Female WHIP tan tail spots.
This tail color difference is sometimes visible when the bird is in flight
Note the method these birds are being held. Nightjars should only be held in the banders grip to protect leg and wing damage that could result from leg holds. 
WHIP in bander's grip

Photo showing short legs of WHIP
Spring has sprung so take some time this week to enjoy the early May songbirds. We also encourage you to join us for our free banding demonstration this Saturday at 10:00 AM at the Observatory visitors' center (just inside the entrance to Magee Marsh).