Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bag a Bird

Today was my first day banding this summer at the Biocore Prairie. There wasn't as much activity as I was hoping, but there were plenty of Baltimore Orioles, Song Sparrows, Catbirds, Goldfinches, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers singing in the area. I also heard my first Scarlet Tanager of the year singing in the woods on my way there in the morning. But no warblers! How disappointing.

Instead of catching any lovely bright-colored orioles or warblers, we caught a flurry of brownish birds.

The coordinator of our bird banding station, Mara McDonald is holding our first capture, a female Brown-headed Cowbird. I was proud to add this to the list of birds that I have successfully taken out of the net without any help! (OK, so maybe it helped that I saw it fly into the net and was there right away before it could get too tangled!)

Chipping Sparrow

The other birds we caught were a Song Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and a House Wren. I am holding the House Wren in the above picture. I decided it was a male based on its large "cloacal protuberance." Without this hint, House Wrens seem to be nearly impossible to differentiate between the sexes. The male cloaca swells during the breeding season, which is definitely underway. We usually see House Wrens all summer long so it's possible that this one will be nesting in the area.

I caught a video of a Baltimore Oriole, which sang in a tree above our banding station the entire morning. The picture isn't the greatest since it was so far up! But hopefully you get a good idea of the oriole's song, which is usually pretty loud. I've heard it described as sounding like, "over here, here, here, over here."

Oh, and take note of the Red-winged Blackbird which is perched almost right next to him. You can hear the "o-ke-lee" call as well as a Song Sparrow singing in the background.

If last year is anything to go by, we'll probably get to band some juvenile Orioles later in the summer after they have fledged.

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