Monday, May 24, 2010

Sparrow-y Goodness

Pretty much the first day we heard that the Clay-colored Sparrows had gotten to town is when we banded a couple (a week and a half ago now - see the bottom two pics). I had almost forgotten how tiny they are - like a Chipping Sparrow!

We also caught a Savannah Sparrow - that is a fantastic find! Have to look carefully - they sometimes appear like a cross between a White-throated with the yellow in front, and have a mottled chest not unlike a Song Sparrow.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yellow Warblers and Swainson's Thrushes

Whatchoo talkin bout, Willis? (That's what the female Yellow Warbler is saying. I interpreted.)
Well, the weather says warbler season but the warblers apparently weren't briefed. (Probably forgot their TPS report covers, too.) At any rate, the few that are in the nets are ones to be grateful for!

Swainson's Thrushes have a beautiful white stripe under the wing, not unlike some shorebirds.

What a beauty!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If Woodpeckers Could Speak

Yikes - time got away from me! In Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, both the males and females brood chicks and help incubate eggs. To prepare for this activity, both hormones and the birds themselves loosen and remove feathers on their abdomens. This allows for the skin to be in direct contact with eggs, to maximize the amount of body heat tranference. The veins enlarge, allowing for even more heat to warm the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the veins start to recede. However, the skin is still stretched out. You can see from these pictures that the skin is still wrinkly, meaning we know the bird's eggs have hatched and there are now young in its cavity nest!

This last photo is a nice size comparison of male Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rose-breasted goodness - I mean Grosbeak

I really, really did think I wanted to get Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the nets. I mean seriously - what a hunk of bird, huh? And theoretically, I knew what a beak like that could do to fingers as you come into contact removing them from the nets. But theory is not reality - a pinch hard enough to make your finger tips go numb - now that's reality. I was still happy to have them. After about 15 minutes anyway.

The first male is a SY (second year) - can you see the spotting on the sides, and the brownish feathers that contrast with the darker ones? The second head and back shots are of an ASY (after second year) male - more crisp, fresh feathers, and more uniformly black with little to no contrast.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Banding in Snow. May 8.

That title is not kidding, folks. May 8 in Wisconsin. Banding in rain. Then sun. Then wind. Then dark and cold. Snow. And then sleet. And all from about 8 - 10:30.

Did get 31 birds and 12 species, though - whoo-hoo! I will spread out the photos over a couple of posts.

First up - a snazzy male American Goldfinch. This time of year it is hard not to be impressed by male avian plumage.

The House Wren is so tiny, but what a song that spills out!

First warbler of the year! Male Pine Warbler. Little bit lemon, little bit lime. The yellow and green/olive just look great on this guy.