Saturday, November 14, 2009

Banding November

I did not have high hopes for lots of birds today - I figured most of what we would get (if any at all) would be Juncos, Goldfinches and Black-capped Chickadees. Well - we did have 25 birds, but only one junco and no Goldfinches. The Chickadees were well represented, and we did get a couple of surprises.
Here is a male and female White-breasted Nuthatch for comparison. The male has the darker "cap", but that is only one mark to look at when you are sexing this bird. AND - if you happen to be in Ohio, for example, there is very little difference in the "caps", and you cannot count on that at all!

Here is a Nuthatch as friend Roger is placing a band on its leg. The pliers he uses has different sizes for the different sized bands.

This bird was a wonderful surprise! It was a female Hairy Woodpecker. She was banded - ready for this? - on almost the same week in November at the same location as we banded today - in 2003! Now, she wasn't the oldest on record - we know of one who lived to at least 15 years, 10 months - but learning this type of information is definitely why we band birds!
Here is her band - it is pretty worn from all those years! The numbers were actually a little difficult to read. It shows, though, that the bird was obviously not troubled by wearing the band.

Something Roger pointed out, which I am embarressed to say is something I had not realized before today, is how a Hairy Woodpecker does not have any barring on the white outer tail feathers. A Downy does - here are two photos for comparison. I have always focused on Hairys being about a third bigger than Downys, have much longer bills in comparison to their heads, and the two have different vocalizations.

Here is a shot of her wing - it was a very clean molt, with no retaining of brown in her feathers. (This often means signs of wear, or bleaching from sun, because birds often take two years or more to go through an entire moult.) Off she goes for hopefully more productive years!

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