Monday, August 29, 2011

Fall 2011 banding: week 2

Another very quiet week, with not many migrants around. A higher percentage of the young resident birds that I'm banding have not yet started or are just beginning their post-juvenile molt than I usually see this time of year. This is the replacement of their juvenile plumage into their first winter adult plumage. It's usually in full swing right now. Same with the molt of adults, who typically molt all of their feathers after they are done nesting. The adults I've banded have just started this process.

The extent of this molt this year tells me that these species -- cardinals, catbirds, robins, and Song Sparrows mostly -- were a little later in fledging than usual. It could be that the big flood in May caused some birds to lose their first nest, and pushed breeding back a couple weeks. Or, good conditions this summer (warm, good amount of rainfall, lots of bugs) could mean some species attempted a third nesting.

I have heard and seen adult birds still tending their newly-fledged young. Here is a brand-new youngster I captured this week. Can you guess the species?

While it seems a little lost and forlorn, I found one of the parents in a nearby net. Although both sexes of this species look alike, they can sometimes be distinguished in the hand. The incubating parent (in most songbirds, just the female) develops a bare area on her belly called a brood patch. The area loses feathering and becomes vascularized in order to facilitate the transfer of heat from her body to the eggs and chicks. I was able to tell that this was the female parent of the chick above.

It's a Chipping Sparrow, a common nester here on campus.

Another frequent nester is the Baltimore Oriole. Because they migrate so early in the season, I sometimes don't catch any in the fall. I had three in one net this week, including this adult male. Orioles are pretty sassy. This one seemed astonished, and a little indignant.

Over the weekend, we had some north winds which brought in some migrants that were observed on our survey on Sunday. This week may bring a small uptick in captures if the migrants stick around, but the forecast is for more southerly winds and hot temperatures toward the end of the week. That could slow things down, but we'll see!

1 comment:

Holly said...

That's a great photo of the oriole! Wish we had more of them around here.