Friday, June 12, 2009

Today's forecast: Birdy with a chance of thunderstorms, wind and gunfire

Most people know ahead of time where and when their workday is going to take place. For me, my current work schedule happens to be dictated by rain, wind, and when the National Guard wants to practice shooting their machine guns. We get there before dawn and work until we're soaked in sweat from the heat.

The weather in Brownwood has been unusually crazy over the last month that I've now been here. For the past three days we've had thunderstorms, hail and tornado warnings that blow through the town in about half an hour. Fortunately, the bad weather has mostly been in the afternoon and hasn't interfered with banding! But are the birds picking up on something? We've only been catching on average 3 to 5 birds a DAY for the past week! Until today we suddenly caught 19 birds. So.. much like the weather here in Texas the level of birdiness is definitely unpredictable.

Northern Mockingbird
Today and yesterday we caught a couple of Mockingbirds, the state bird of Texas.

Here you can see his lovely white wing patches. When mockingbirds are flying they can be distinguished very easily by this trademark. They are also very fidgety birds so I think it would be hard to hold them any other way than the grip I have above. Maybe it can be done though?

Black-chinned Hummingbird
And now, here I am demonstrating a completely different way to grip a bird, known as the "pencil grip." This is the only proper way to hold a hummingbird, which is too tiny to hold in the traditional bander's grip. The hummer I have here is a male Black-chinned and the first male I have seen since I got here. We have had quite a few hummingbirds in the nets, but they have all been female until this guy!

Just look at that gorgeous purple gorget (another word for a bird's throat patch). So cool! We don't band hummingbirds since we don't have a permit for it and we don't have any special paper-thin hummingbird bands. But we do record when we get them and where they are located. And it's always neat to get a good look at them.

1 comment:

Shady Character said...

That hummer is beautiful. Sometimes I wish we had more species up here in the north but then I take a good look at the Ruby-throated and realize we've at least got one of the prettiest.