Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall banding: Weeks 3 & 4 in review

Weeks 3 and 4 (August 29 to September 10) were nothing much to write home about. We banded 117 new birds and handled 27 recaptures of 23 species. Looking back on the first month, it seems to be shaping up to be an above-average season for House Wrens, Red-eyed Vireos, and American Redstarts.

How can anybody get tired of seeing an adult male redstart?

In the fall, you see many more female-plumaged redstarts than these gorgeous males. Some are adult females, many are young birds, both males and females. Male American Redstarts do not get their bold black-and-orange plumage until their second full molt (for birds born this year, that will take place next fall). Still, young male redstarts are often a little more orange than yellow and can sometimes be differentiated from the even duller females. The young male below was especially bright.

Although it's a little hard to see in the photo above, the uppertail coverts are also quite dark and they contrast with the grayer-colored back. The orange patches at the base of the wings

Meanwhile, in the young probable-female below, the patches are dull yellow, and so are the patches on the tail.

The tail-fanning is a characteristic behavior of this species, earning it the name "candelita," or "little flame" in some Latin American countries where it spends the winter.

Speaking of tails, Palm Warblers are beginning to come through.

Tail-pumping is a very distinctive trait of this species. They do not, however, do this in the hand.

And let's welcome our first new bander of the fall 2010 season, Carmen Volante. Carmen is a senior here at UM-D and is shown here on the left with one of our veteran banders Andy Dettling, and Dana Wloch, the undergraduate research associate in her second year of looking at robin and catbird diets.

The middle week in September coming up is often our best week for diversity of birds, especially warblers. We'll see what we come up with!

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