Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Still More Migrants Arrive

    In spite of the cold morning I headed out to the banding site and put out 3 nets hoping to take advantage of the clear weather. In October you never know what the conditions might be. Many of the trees are now devoid of leaves and the Gray Dogwood doesn't have any more ripe fruits clinging to their panicles.
    I only had 6 birds total for the morning but one of the birds, this young Bluejay, was a great example of a bird showing a "molt limit". This is a contrast between newer replaced feathers and older retained feathers.
    You can see in this wing photo that the primary coverts and one of the greater coverts has been retained and are not the bright blue they will be in the spring. As we go from October to November aging birds gets trickier and on January first all wild birds have a "birthday" so a bird that would be aged hatch year on Dec. 31st would be aged after hatch year on Jan.1st. In some species we just admit we don't know age or sex of an individual until later in the spring.
    First of the fall arrival for Fox Sparrows (for me anyway) brought this bird in along with 2 other Fox Sparrows making this the most common catch of the day. I like this species. Their big and chunky sparrows and are easy to handle. I also think they are beautiful.
     As I went to check one of the nets we saw a bird hovering over an open grassy area and my first thought was it might be a kestrel but it was too small and the wings weren't the right shape. As it flew up and perched in a nearby tree I saw white wing patches and a black mask and I knew it was a shrike.

     This is another first of the fall season for me. it hung around all morning and was still sitting in a tree as I drove home.
    If the weather  is reasonable next weekend I may push the envelope and try to get in one or two more banding sessions. A mid-week storm may change my mind.

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