Monday, May 4, 2009

Nearing the end of training in South Texas

Black-crested Titmouse

Wow.. it has been an incredible time here in Texas. We only have a couple days left of my internship training with the bird banding folks of the Institute of Bird Populations. On Thursday I will be moving to either Giddings or Brownwood, TX where I will stay for the rest of the summer, collecting lots and lots of bird data! I wish I could blog more but I only have a limited time here at the library in the middle of nowhere. So I will just update with some more highlights and photos!
I have been getting up at 5:30 am everyday for the past week and a half.. yes every single day even weekends! And we have been banding every morning until it gets too windy or too hot. When it's overcast, the weather can be pretty tame, but as soon as the sun comes out it can be incredibly hot. Of course, what else would you expect? Of course the birds that live around here are used to the heat but we do have to be careful not to stress them out.

So, since my last update, we still have been getting a new species almost every day! Today was just incredible. We had several migratory species, including Magnolia Warbler, Ovenbirds, and a Mourning Warbler. On top of that, we banded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. We've heard a lot of Cuckoos but it was my first time seeing one really up close! What a neat bird!!

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, back and front


Magnolia Warbler

These cuckoos are breeding here while the Warbler and the Ovenbird are just passing through. We were pretty lucky to catch them. Another species we caught today was the Gray Catbird. I have banded so many catbirds in Wisconsin!! It was nice to see familiar bird at the banding station. Otherwise I kind of miss all the old song sparrows and and goldfinches that I'm used to seeing when I band.
Above pictured is a Brown-crested Flycatcher. Almost identical to another species called the Great Crested Flycatcher, but with slight differences and a different song. They are super common where I am and we actually caught 3 of these yesterday.

A Summer Tanager!! We sometimes see Scarlet Tanagers in Wisconsin, but coming here has been my first time getting a really good look at the Scarlet's cousin the completely red Summer Tanager. They are really gorgeous birds.. and super common everywhere here! We have caught a lot of these guys. The above picture is a male. The female is mostly all yellow.

This is a Bronzed Cowbird male. It's distinguished by it's lovely ruff of feathers around the neck and bright red eye. Closely related to the Brown-headed Cowbird, which is another frequent species around here. The Bronzed Cowbird is more of a Southern bird so it was my first time seeing these guys. They are pretty neat! But also their talons are quite sharp and they know how to use them.

Well I have more pictures but I will have to update again another time!! Oh and I almost forgot, the first picture at the top is another breeding species in Texas, the close relative of the Tufted Titmouse, the Black-crested Titmouse! They were once classified as subspecies of the same species, and are listed as such in the Sibley bird guide.. But now they are classified as two different species.

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