Thursday, September 25, 2008

Last Weekends Catches

Once again our friend Amber (of the infamous dancing bander video fame) has sent us some great shots of birds we handled last weekend. These are birds that we banded at Carver Park Reserve near Victoria, Minnesota. This is just west of the Twin Cities area. The September banding has been held at a different spot the last couple of years. We band by the King Blind near Lake Auburn. This is just a break from all the sessions at the nature center and the habitat allows us to see species we might not otherwise encounter. The Least Flycatcher shown above was one of 34 birds we handled on Saturday.

One of the species that we were seeing this weekend was Lincoln's Sparrow. We caught 3 individuals to make this one of the most common catches for the day. For most of the encounters we only had one individual of each species.

Perhaps the "best" catch of the day was this Philadelphia Vireo. We have been having an ongoing conversation about fall vireos. This bird was the first individual that we are confident calling a Philadelphia Vireo. We have been noticing that fall Warbling Vireos have quite a bit of yellow on them making them appear very different from spring individuals. The ability to look at wing (primary) feathers in the hand allowed us to positively ID this bird. We are wondering if some of the reports of Philadelphia Vireos in the fall are actually misidentified Warbling Vireos.

As a conversation starter, I'd like to throw out the question to anybody who is still reading this entry. How do you distinguish between fall Warbling and Philadelphia Vireos and second how difficult do you feel this separation is? I believe in being a life long learner and I have a long way to go. This is just one of those questions that I thought I'd try to figure out. Any insights are appreciated.


Allen Chartier said...

The Philadelphia Vireo has a narrow black line that is lacking or much less distinct in Warbling Vireo. This field mark, noted in many field guides, is easy to use in my opinion. Further, the fall Warbling Vireos I've banded have had yellow on the sides and sometimes the undertail coverts, but never on the breast or throat where Philadelpia is most yellow.

Nicki said...

Two things. First, the yellow wash on a WAVI is usually more on the sides, while a PHVI has yellow all over the breast as well.

Also, the PHVI has darker lores than the WAVI. Pale face usually means WAVI, darkness in front of the eyes, PHVI. In the hand, it gets quite easy once you catch more, especially if you can get them both at the same time (lucky us in Montreal, it happened a few times this fall before they all moved on south). In the field, it's still possible with practice.

Cool catches! I band in Montreal, so it's neat reading other blogs to see the species we had a couple of weeks ago popping up where you are.