Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Confusing Flycatchers + B&W Warbler

Update on banding, two very similar looking birds but different species:

The top bird is a Eastern Wood Pewee and the bottom bird is a Willow Flycatcher ..... to the best of our knowledge. We thought they were the same bird at first but the Wood Pewee ended up being noticeably larger. You can also see that the Pewee has fainter wing bars and is more gray than greenish like the flycatcher. I still don't know if I'm fully convinced since there are so many empidonax flycatchers that look almost identical even in hand. At least we know for sure that both of these bird species have been heard around here. Sound is actually the best way to identify flycatchers and similar species.

Another couple of looks at the Willow Flycatcher, in case we ever decided to change our minds on the ID we made.

This is a very very young Common Yellowthroat. We are sure that this one had fledged within a day or two, meaning it's fresh from the nest. The picture turned out kind of blurry but you can see it has a stumpy tail (still growing his adult feathers) and a big mouth for showing mom and dad where to put the food. He also made very interesting calls that weren't typical sounds you would hear from an adult bird. They were more like trilling/shrieking noises that a begging bird might make. When we get young birds like this we always make sure to return them to where they were captured even though they are perfectly capable of flying, but just in case they get lost.

I think the bird-of-the-day is definitely this female Black and White Warbler. What a cute little bird! This was my first time seeing one banded. They aren't a very typical warbler out here, but I think that they might breed in the area or they are already flying through. It's hard to tell. Soon enough though, we should be getting lots more confusing fall warblers migrating through come September. Exciting!

Another shot of those lovely black and white stripes. The male doesn't differ much from the female but has more striping on the face.

Total Birds Banded: American Goldfinch (3), Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Eastern Wood Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Black & White Warbler

Birdy art: American White Pelican

Sunday, August 3, 2008

brief banding update + brown thrasher + AOU

Hi all, surprisingly the house wrens were gone from the banding station this week after the boom we had last time. In their place, we had several juvenile catbirds and a few late breeding birds. A pair of goldfinches showed signs that they were in the early stages of nesting. The female had a full belly, likely containing an egg. Another female Common Yellowthroat also showed signs that she had recently laid eggs. In general, August is late in the breeding season for birds, but it is also fairly common for specific birds like goldfinches.

The bird of the day was this juvenile Brown Thrasher. It was my first time seeing one up close.

Even though they are called Brown Thrashers, their feathers actually more reddish-brown as you can see.

This week I hope to update you with some western birds since I will be traveling to Portland, Oregon for the American Ornithologists Union meeting. I will be presenting some of my data that I've collected at Biocore Prairie with a poster I made and doing a little birding at Washington Park. Hopefully I will see some new birds but I will only be there for a few days.

Birds banded this week: Gray Catbird (4), American Goldfinch (2), Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher, Song Sparrow

Birdy art: Stellar's Jay (a western bird)