Tuesday, August 25, 2009

American Dipper

I saw my first American Dipper while at the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, North America's only songbird that can swim!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 Things I Learned in Texas...

I'm finally settled in at home in Madison after spending the summer banding in Texas. It's good to be back! Mostly though because the temperature right now is only 73F (instead of 103) and it's the middle of the afternoon.

To sum up my experience with the MAPS program in Brownwood Texas, it was all I anticipated and more. So much fun! And really excellent people! I learned SO much and I would definitely do it again.

And here are some of the things I learned while I was in Texas...

1. Learned I can go an entire summer without using a microwave! (and oatmeal cooked on the stove top is 100 times better than microwave cooked!)

2. Learned how to age a Painted Bunting (PABU!)

3. Learned that the Carolina Chickadee sounds like it says, "I will kill you" and the Summer Tanager says, "Pik a chu.. pika chu chu chu!"

4. Learned how to spot the difference between a Bewick's Wren and a Carolina Wren

(Bewick's on the Left, Carolina on the Right)

5. Learned that Mourning Doves shed a lot of feathers when they EXPLODE! (see image at the top)

6. There's no pain quite like a Cardinal biting your cuticles

(Don't ever get too close to that beak!)

7. A lot of people in Texas have never seen a Painted Bunting, or if they have they think it's an escaped pet! They are all over the place, you just have to look!

8. It is OK to only check email 3 times a week

9. Learned how to do the Texan "two-step"

10. Learned so much about extracting and aging techniques for all birds!

Monday, August 3, 2009

wrapping up in Brownwood Texas

We only have 2 more days of banding left in Texas! Then the MAPS 2009 season is officially over. Sad, but also sweet since I'm excited to go back home! Luckily there's plenty of time to enjoy the fall migration once I get back to Madison. Hurray for getting to identify fall warblers and sparrows.

This past week so far has been a little bit crazy! If it hasn't been one thing it has been another. We have been getting a lot of empidonax flycatchers lately (basically the hardest birds in North America to identify in the hand, or the hardest birds to identify ever as far as I can tell!) The best way to identify them is by sound, and birds don't sing in your hand. Mostly they have ended up being Least Flycatchers which have already begun their migration south for winter.
Here are the feisty flycatchers making flycatcher faces:
Along with the crazy "empids," today we got a crazy flock of bushtits. On our first net run of the day, I stumbled upon a net with no fewer than 10 bushtits caught in it and chirping their little tiny heads off. (If only I had a photo of this!! But I don't bring my camera with me on net-runs) Luckily I was able to call for back up and we managed to get them all out, plus a bonus female Black-and-white Warbler. We only lost one bushtit in the process and got them all banded and on their way. At the end of the day we banded 19 birds (Bushtits, Warbler + juvenile Cardinals, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Painted Buntings and a Least Flycatcher). Definitely a high number for us, but we'll see what tomorrow brings. We will be going to our overall most productive site.
So on to the birdy whims like I promised. Exciting news, I finished my owl sweater!
Yes my Brownwood bedroom came with some nice fake wood paneling

Ta-da! According to the pattern, I'm supposed to add little buttons to complete the owl eyes. I don't have any buttons right now but maybe sometime later after I get home I will find some owl-eye buttons. I'm really happy how it turned out though. I will have to wait awhile to wear it though, not much use in the 100 degree Texas heat!!