Tuesday, June 3, 2008
A Quieter Day
The nice conditions of the weekend have given way to an unsettled, cool and rainy stretch of 2 days. The birds in the area are continuing to be active and from reports on the internet a trickle of migrants may last for a bit longer.
The lateness of the migration is something that probably occurs occasionally over time and I learned that the migrants tend to shorten up their courtship time and are able to nest successfully even if they are a bit rushed. I was wondering, however, if there ever gets to be a time when migrants having trouble going north finally just stop wherever they are and breed where they can. This might be a time to really shift from looking for migrants to doing breeding surveys. Minnesota is in the early stages of starting a Breeding Bird Atlas program and this summer might be a time to get a head start on some out of range breeding records. If nothing else, it might be a good time to have folks start practicing for the surveys that will be necessary for the atlas. With a spring as unusual as this one it might continue into some unusual summer records.
Another thing that banding allows us to do is to look at close-up details on the birds we catch that we would never be able to easily see otherwise. On the Mourning Dove we caught Saturday we noticed that it's toes didn't look quite right. On closer examination we found that some of the toes were missing their claws and one toe had a claw that was present but in an awkward orientation. Our guess is that this is the result of injury due to cold. If you look closely at the photo above you will notice a toe that looks "stubby". This is the one missing a claw and the one in the middle is the one with the claw growing upward.
Life in the wild isn't as easy as some might think!