Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week #7 in review

Last week I mentioned we had banded our second Connecticut Warbler of the season, but I hadn't downloaded the photos yet. Here we go:

Connecticut Warbler #2

And we banded another last Sunday. Unfortunately, nearly everybody from the Detroit Audubon field trip had already departed for the day and missed it! Of course, it got a mug shot, too.

Connecticut Warbler #3

White-throated Sparrows arrived in good numbers this week. This species can be quite variable in plumage. There are two color morphs, one with brown and pale tan head stripes, and the other with black and white stripes. Some young birds can be really dull and dirty looking, and even have some breast streaking, like this one.

The adult below was a lot nicer looking. There is a subtle difference in the eye color of young and adult White-throated Sparrows. Young ones have gray-brown eyes, adults are a richer reddish brown color. This is best seen in bright light.

And to round off the sparrow gallery are these White-crowned Sparrows. Unlike White-throats, the difference in the head stripe color is strictly age-related, with the young birds having tan stripes, and the adults black and white.

Young (hatching year) White-crowned Sparrow

Adult (after hatching year) White-crowned Sparrow

So far, I've had a modest number of recaptures of passage migrants (those species that only use this area during migration, but don't breed or winter here). The species recaptures so far have been Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat. Of the 12 individuals, all but 3 gained weight, the average being 7% of their original body mass. As a general rule of thumb, birds need to gain 3 to 5% to make another night's flight. Our analyses have indicated that the majority of individual birds do gain weight on stopver here at UM-Dearborn, but this varies widely between species. Most thrushes, for instance, gain a lot of weight. White-throated Sparrows overall tend to lose weight. This focus of our research will be discussed in upcoming posts.

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