Monday, September 12, 2011

September Migrants

We held our second banding session of the fall at Ritter Farm Park near Lakeville, MN yesterday. For early September is was unusually hot. We started the day in the upper 50s but very quickly got up into the 80s and we weren't sure how that might affect the days catch. To put it simply the birds were very cooperative. This Brown Thrasher was just one of the highlights of the day.

A big aim of our programs is to introduce kids to birds and show them how science is done in the field. We encourage kids of all ages to come out to watch and have some of them help us let the birds go. The thrasher made this young fellows day when it just sat there for about 30 seconds until it figured out it was free. This picture is of a memory that I hope this kid never forgets. When we wonder how to bring more young people into birding nothing tops something like this.

We only ran 3 nets for the program but we were busy from the start. Many of the birds were obvious migrants with a good number of young birds. This Purple Finch is a young bird with the last bit of yellow gape (edging of mouth) still visible at the base of the bill. We see PUFIs in migration but they nest north of us. Besides the visible characteristics that identify Purple Finches, we can always distinguish them from House Finches because PUFIs really bite!

The Northern Waterthrushes have been moving through for a couple of weeks and this one was netted in classic habitat, right along the edge of a wetland, skulking along low in the bushes. I even predicted this species for the day.

Finally, a preview of the next birds to come through in big numbers, the sparrows. We caught 3 species of sparrow including Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow and this Swamp Sparrow. Swamp Sparrow and Field Sparrow were the most common sparrow catch of the day.

Below are the totals for the day. The weather prediction for the next week is for a drastic change in temperatures. We are going from upper 80s for highs to barely reaching 60 degrees. We have 2 programs next weekend - Saturday at the Lowry Nature Center and Sunday is the final program at Ritter Farm this fall. With the change in conditions we may see a real change in species. Ya gotta love migration!

Totals for Sunday:

American Redstart - 1
Field Sparrow - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 3
American Goldfinch - 2
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 3
Purple Finch - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Song Sparrow - 1
Gray Catbird - 3
Brown Thrasher - 1

Total Individuals = 20
Total Species = 11

No comments: