Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Confusing Birds

As I watched the weather radar this morning about 6 am I was afraid that the rain moving through might crimp my plans to band but luckily the front sagged south and the rain stopped. Interestingly, I watched the radar loop and could see migrants beginning to land about 5 am south of the front in central Iowa. This means more birds still on their way.

The last two days have been "flycatcher" days. The variety of flycatchers around is pretty impressive. Yesterday and today I have either caught or heard Least Flycatcher, Trail's Flycatcher (Willow/Alder complex), Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Eastern Wood Peewee. Talk about a tough group to ID!

This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Empidonax flaviventris, (above) was a surprise. We don't usually catch these every year.

Also netted this morning was a Least Flycatcher, Empidonax minimus, which always impress me by how feisty they are.

The Great-crested Flycatcher that was all over the banding site never came down far enough to hit the net. Maybe next time.

Vireos have begun to show up in good numbers and this Red-eyed Vireo, Vireo olivaceus, was the first of the spring for me. This bird's eye is still brownish-red which is the color of a juvenile so that makes this a second year bird. It's eye should be brighter by fall.

I did catch one ratty looking Tennessee Warbler, Vermivora peregrina, that at a quick glance might fool people into thinking its a Red-eyed Vireo. The comparison here shows the contrasts. Compare the throat, the eye and the bill of the two birds.

Finally I caught 3 American Redstarts, Setophaga ruticilla, at the same time. Curiously, they were caught at the bottom of the net as if they were skulking along the ground. These are pretty numerous in this area as a breeder.

If the weather holds it's back to the nets tomorrow.

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