Thursday, September 27, 2012

A New Tool for Banders

The Bird Banding Lab recently sent out a note to banders describing a new website that looks like it might be useful to banders when it comes to having photos of birds in the hand that will help age and sex different species. The site is called Piranga and it is found through NatureInstruct. Not only is it a source to use, it is also a site to which banders can contribute.

When trying to determine age and sex of birds it is often necessary to look at every feather of the wing and/or tail along with other characteristics depending on the species.
 This Blue headed Vireo is an example of a bird that was aged by looking at the wing feathers. We took a documenting photo of the wing to show what we saw and why we aged it as we did. The photo of the wing is the type that is found on Piranga.
If you look at the greater coverts (the feathers that form the lower wing bar) you'll see the one on the very left is different. This feather is retained and has not been molted yet. This molt limit is definitive for age. This bird was caught in September and was aged hatch year. I think this could be a great resource for figuring out tough species or even for reviewing the characteristics of species that we know we will be banding before they arrive in numbers. I know that I am going to spend time looking at both fall Yellow-rumped Warblers and Slate-colored Juncos. They can be confusing at certain times of the year.

Registration is free and as a disclaimer I am not associated with the site at all (but wish I was).

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