Friday, May 22, 2009

A Bird in the Hand...

With the winds finally subsiding and the temperatures cooling into the 70s I was able to take my Field Ornithology class out and really enjoy a morning of birding and banding. There were lots of new birds for the kids to see and they got a kick out of watching Caspian Terns, Sterna caspia, hunting over a shallow lake at Ritter Farm.

Since the weather was cooperating I put up a couple of nets and did some banding with the students. We only caught two birds in the little time we had but they provided a good lesson for the class. The flycatcher above is an nice example of a bird that is hard to ID even in the hand. This is an Eastern Wood Peewee. The lack of an eye-ring and the overall grayish back and white throat are the key to ID. It fooled me by being caught in a low tier of the net near a wetland. My first thought was Willow/Alder Flycatcher but lack of any yellow in the plumage didn't fit.

The other bird we caught was a male Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus. The above photo is of a male caught a while ago that is your classic male Red-wing. However, the bird we caught is shown below and the kids had a good lesson in how birds can change their look over time. None of them knew that younger birds can be so different from adults.

A close-up of the birds epaulet shows the classic characteristics of a second year bird. This guy will look like the bird above it next year. Until then he'll just look scraggly.

With the three day weekend upon us, I'm hoping to band all three mornings and see if the migration is truly still in full swing. The warblers have been few and far between in my area this spring.

1 comment:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I enlarged the photo of the epaulet on the juvenile. I knew they were mottled but it's neat to see up close. Pretty.