Monday, June 1, 2009

Bowie bird update

Yesterday we started the fourth period of banding at our favorite site, Mesquite. The number of mosquitos was significantly less than last week! And the birds were out and about. We only banded for 4 and a half hours, but we got 15 birds and a good variety of species. We usually aim to band for 6 hours (6am-noon), but this site is really out in the open and the nets are really exposed to the sun, heat and wind.
Orchard Oriole

My favorite bird of the day yesterday was this Orchard Oriole. It was a very beautiful adult male. I am pretty used to seeing Baltimore Orioles in the hand, so I was surprised to see how much smaller Orchard Orioles are compared to Baltimores. According to the Sibley guide, they are the smallest oriole and "sometimes confused with warblers." OK.. I don't know about that second part. They aren't quite that small, in my opinion!
Orchard Oriole
Mourning Dove

Another new bird for our banding season was this Mourning Dove. Of course, Mourning Doves, or MODOs for short, are everywhere, but we hardly ever get a dove in a net. Doves are pretty big and less likely to get stuck. They also have powerful breast muscles that give them the ability of "explosive flight." And if you've ever snuck up on a MODO before you may know what I mean!

We got several more Dickcissels on Sunday and I wanted to put up this picture again so I could show the difference between the male and female.


The female is at the bottom. The yellow is more of a buttery yellow and she doesn't have the black chin strap. The females are a lot smaller than the males as well.

Today's banding only yielded 8 birds and at least half were recaptures. But we also had a great species that I had never handled before until today! The bill looks tiny, but only on the outside. These birds can open their bills really wide and eat insects from dawn until dusk. Their wings are extremely long and their feet are tiny. They only stop flying to sleep .. sometimes roosting in chimneys.. What is it?

It's a Chimney Swift! I never thought I'd get to band a swift since they tend to be high flyers and are quite acrobatic. So I was very happy to see this one in one of our nets! Swifts are very different from most of the birds that we get in the nets, since they aren't passerines (the grouping of songbirds). They are actually are more closely related to hummingbirds.

My last bird is the Rufous-crowned Sparrow which I mentioned in the previous blog. I finally got a picture of one this time. Looks a little like the Olive sparrow but without the olive! Time for me to go, it will be another early morning tomorrow!

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