Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Been a Busy Wek

The last two weekends have been just too nice not to be tempted to stretch some nets and see what's passing through. On the 4th I was alone at my banding site while Mark and friends were out at Carver Park doing a bit of banding and it sounds like we both had the same experience of seeing birds EVERYWHERE. Most of them were up in the trees and above net height but I did catch a few goodies like this White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis.

Foraging around in the lower vegetation (mostly Goldenrod, Solidago spp. and Dogwood, Cornus spp.) were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dendroica coronata. These birds can be really tricky in the fall. Of all the birds I had that day I took the most time ageing and sexing the "butter butts".

These next two look like they might be the same species but they are actually two of the later moving warblers around here. On top is the Nashville Warbler,Vermivora ruficapilla and below is an Orange-crowned Warbler, Vermivora celata. This morning, the 10th, I only caught a couple of Orange-crowns so most of the other warblers are already through. I did see some Yellow-rumps as I was canoeing down the Cannon River yesterday which is just south of here by about 20 miles so they're not all gone.

A new arrival this morning was this little fellow, a Brown Creeper, Certhia americana. It was caught in the lowest tier of the net so it must have been moving from one tree to the bottom of the next tree. We will see these birds all winter around the Twin Cities. One of the more dependable spots for winter locations is the Minnesota River NWR.

Quickly becoming one of my favorite birds is the Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca. The "chunkiest" of all our sparrows these birds suggest a thrush when you see them in the nets from a distance. They sure are pretty when you get to see them up close. Fox Sparrows moving south is a sure sign of winter approaching.

Now this bird is a thrush. The Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus, is the first thrush moving north in the spring and the last one moving south in the fall. I love the contrast of the tail to the back in this species which you can see in the photo below.

I don't know how much longer the weather will cooperate and the birds will hang around but if all goes well I might get another day or two of banding in before the end of the fall banding season. For the winter months we're pretty much relegated to banding at feeder stations which can be productive but it sure isn't as colorful.

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