Friday, June 26, 2009

Past the halfway point for my internship in TX..

Yesterday was the last day of phase 6 for our banding season. So that means there are only four ten-day periods left of my internship. The weather is getting incredibly hot and humid, typically with temperatures soaring into the 90's before 10am. That means we've had fewer hours with our nets open and fewer birds. At our last six sites we had a record low of only 39 birds.

But as promised, I do have some photos of more juvenile birds that we have been getting more and more of.

This juvenile Lark Sparrow looks like a lot of young birds, brown and spotty. He still has the cheek patch like the adult, which will later turn a bright chestnut color.

Lark Sparrow (juvenile)

Similar to the Lark Sparrow, this juvenile Rufous-crowned Sparrow is much duller than the adult. He doesn't have much of a rufous crown at all. We found that this guy seems to have been born with a deformed bill that is crossed at the tip. Right now he probably is still being fed by his parents. Hopefully his deformity won't prevent him from foraging on his own, but it doesn't look to be too bad.

Juvenile Rufous-crowned Sparrow with deformed bill

Another bird with a tough life is the above female Northern Cardinal. Take a look at the horizontal bars on her tail. These are called "fault bars" and they show that while the feathers were growing in, the Cardinal encountered some kind of stress or nutritional deficiency.

And finally, we got another new species in our nets! We have been hearing plenty of Eastern Phoebes at one of our sites, but this is the first one I have gotten to see up in the hand. The phoebe is one of the many "name-saying birds." He sounds like he is saying "PHOE-bee", not to be confused with the Eastern Wood-pewee which also says its name "Pee-wee!"

Eastern Phoebe
Phoebes and Pewees also look similar. With an Eastern Wood-pewee look for the dusky wingbars and yellow on the lower bill. The Eastern Phoebe doesn't have much of any wingbars and has an all black bill.
Now I have the weekend off, but I'm Killeen, TX and hoping to see my first Black-capped Vireo, an endangered bird endemic to central Texas. I will be back next week with more birds!

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