Sunday, August 30, 2009

First of the Fall Migrants

Whew - I've been gone from the blogging world for a bit! Prepping for fall classes (teaching and taking), spring plans (yup!), pre-season football (looking good so far). Did get in some banding today at the school where friend Roger teaches. The first of the fall migrants are here! One of the most exciting was this AHY male Canada Warbler. What a great bird! Also got a HY sex unknown Nashville Warbler. Not an easy bird to identify. This is the double-edged sword of bird banding - yay, we got warblers! Uhh - now we have to identify these warblers. Also got a Swainson's thrush - check out that great marking under the wing. Almost reminds you of shorebirds! And Reier contributed this arty shot of the Red-eyed Vireo we banded today. Ahhh - it was a good day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

When All Else Fails - Traill's!

Well, we didn't get a ton of birds banding at Lowry this weekend, but did get some interesting ones. There are two flycatchers - Alder and Willow - that are very difficult to differentiate. Mostly it is done by vocalization. So - when you are not absolutely sure, you record it as a Traill's, which is the first bird here. The other bird pictured here is a nod to just how goofy us banders are with what we get excited about. The wing chords for Black-capped Chickadees usually run from 58-69mm. This bird actually measured at 73! We took a photo to prove it, in case the records folks at the Banding Lab didn't think the information was recorded correctly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Final SD post

I've been a little remiss lately in getting some postings up. I have a few more SD photos that I thought would be good to put up. Eared Grebes and their young abounded - those chicks look like little Sith Lords, don't they? The American Bittern was quite a spot - it was at the edge of a corn field, in knee deep water (I can tell you this from personal experience) and trying very hard to be a reed or stalk so I wouldn't see him/her. Finally, the Swainson's youngsters here were fighting over food from a parent bird (also pictured below).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Steeler in the Hall

Couldn't let the weekend get away without recognition of another Steeler to be elected into the Football Hall of Fame. Rod Woodson didn't end his career as a Steeler, but most of us will always think of him as that. I am always excited when a defensive player makes it in, because they often go unnoticed. His accomplishments are pretty impressive - In his 17 NFL seasons, he recorded 71 interceptions, 1,483 interception return yards, 32 fumble recoveries (15 offensive and 17 defensive), 137 fumble return yards, 4,894 kickoff return yards, 2,362 punt return yards, and 17 touchdowns (12 interception returns, 1 fumble return, 2 kickoff returns, 2 punt returns). He holds the league record for interceptions returned for touchdowns with 12, and is tied with 11 other players for the record for most fumble recoveries in a single game (3). His 1,483 interception return yards are also an NFL record. His 71 interceptions rank 3rd all time. Those closest to me know that last year I finally made the pilgimmage to the Hall to pay my respects, and it was an honor to be around the artifacts and memories of some truly great individuals. Congrats, Rod!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Harrier Food FIght

Reier and I had the great fortune to see a female Northern Harrier risk life and limb to bring food in to her rather enthusiastic youngsters. We saw her fly across the road with food clearly in her feet. Her two juvenile young met her with a flurry of vocalizing, feet and wings. She finally dropped the lunch she had brought in, and both youngsters carried the squabbling into the pasture. She flew off to find something else to feed her young. Gotta love a parent who almost gets torn to bits and keeps going back for more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Banding notes

I will post some more SD photos, but wanted to make a note of yet another instance of how bird banding can teach us something. One our way back to the Cities, we found a juvenile Peregrine Falcon hanging out at the Atwater, MN Feed Mill. Can you see her perched on the right in the first photo? Please excuse how bad the photos are, overall - pretty dark and rainy out. This town is about 80 miles west of the Cities. By reading her bands, and once I was back at a computer, I found that she was a bird who had fledged off the Colonnade building in Mpls! She was trying to learn the best way to catch pigeons off the grainery buildings, as well as the Red-winged Blackbirds in the nearby fields. I wish her luck!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just got back from a nice week in SD to visit my folks, and take in some of the great birds that either make SD home, or are migrating through. Raptors, waterfowl and shorebirds, sparrows and songbirds - there was something for everyone. It will take a while to get through everything I took, but thought I would put a few up. The first bird is a Western Kingbird. They set up shop in my folks' backyard, right next to an Eastern Kingbird family. Needless to say it was often loud and active there. Swainson's Hawks were around almost more than the Red tails were. Signs and hay bales were great perch spots. Check out the very light Red tail that we ran into - most of the Red tails were a lighter plumage than I am used to seeing here in MN. It was a little odd to see Cooper's Hawks on the plains - and hanging out in open pastures, or in corn fields, but apparently successful in their environment. The final photo is an American Avocet, one of my favorite shorebirds.