Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall 2009: Week #3 in review

In contrast to last week, this week was gorgeous. A high pressure system remained stalled over the region, creating beautiful weather but a doldrum of sorts for migrants. Last weekend saw some movement, and early in the week, which meant we had our first observations of Cape May Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler. We banded several other new arrivals, including Nashville Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Ovenbird, and Wilson's Warbler. As the week progressed, things just petered out.

Ovenbirds are a personal favorite.

The air is filled with the (obnoxious, if you ask me) begging calls of young American Goldfinch, a species that is among our latest nesters. We've started catching families. The adults are just now beginning their fall molt, and their old feathers are extremely worn.

The white wing bars on this adult male goldfinch have worn nearly completely off. Dark pigments make feathers stronger, and the pale areas often wear away first.

I've also netted a lot of hummingbirds this year; one day this week I released eleven. I presume many are the same individuals, but between mulitple birds in the nets at the same time and plumage differences, I know there were at least seven different ones out there one day. Hummingbirds require special bands and permits, so I just release the birds when I catch them.

A molting adult male hummingbird ready to zip off. Only a few of the 40 I've caught so far have been adult males or this one!).

The most disappointing news of the week was finding out that the massive construction project next door at Henry Ford Community College will not be complete for at least another month. This loud, dusty project is directly adjacent to my site, and the bulldozers, piledrivers, and other big noisy machinery get going just after sunrise. I believe this is having a negative impact on my banding activities. The resident birds seem to be used to the commotion, but when the hubbub gets vigorous, the migrants seem to move away from it all. Although the very large underground retention basin, capped with a parking lot, is supposed to be complete by October 15, this is a three year project and will continue the next two summers. Arrgg!

The big dig next door. If this view isn't enough, for the next couple of months, you can have the excitement of following along on a web cam.

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