Saturday, May 24, 2008

Opposite Ends of a Spectrum

I sat and watched my nets blow in the wind as I tried to get in a little banding before the predicted storms roll in tonight. It was noticeably quieter in the woods today but a little work still turned up Magnolia, Tennessee and Chestnut-sided Warblers, but only one of each. What did show up in my nets were two species that are complete opposites. The above Brown-headed Cowbird is a species that many people love to hate. The problem is that the only reason BHCOs are a concern is because we humans have spent the last 2 centuries fragmenting the forest and allowing the cowbirds to do what they do best: parasitize nests. People will sometimes ask me what I think of cowbirds, especially if we net one at a public program. I maintain they are native species and are only a problem because we value other species more.

The real culprit to this problem is the female. She is an egg machine. Studies have shown the ability of a single female to lay 40 eggs during a breeding season. It boggles the mind to think of the physiological stress these birds endure.

On the other hand, this morning brought me an accidental visitor when this Ruby-throated Hummingbird hit my net (Why do they hum? They don't know the words). Trying to find this little guys legs in order to get him untangled was a chore. I can see why people used to think that they never perch. He was sent on his way as I do not have a permit to band hummingbirds (nor I would venture, the patience).

Sounds like tomorrow won't be a good day to be in the field so I'll try to be productive at home. But come Monday, I'm back out in the camp chair staring at my nets.

1 comment:

mon@rch said...

I am glad that I am not the only one who gets upset whenever I catch a cowbird! I have one field assistant who you can tell gets extra mad at me once I let it go!! I always have to apologize and tell him that banded these guys is just as important as the warblers (although they go through the whole process . . bird flu sampling, handling by those learning how to extract from the net . . ect.. )