Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Quick Update on a Quirky Autumn

     The high temperature on Nov. 5th in my part of Minnesota was 70 degrees. We are about to smash the record for longest growing season. It's at something over 200 days right now with no frost in sight. Yet, in spite of the lingering warm weather the migrants keep moving on to the south. No more White-throated Sparrows in the back yard. Fox Sparrows gone. Even the Bluebirds seem to have finally left.

     Anyway, I still headed out to the banding site today and was NOT skunked! I had 3 Northern Cardinals and 2 Black-capped Chickadees for the day. I also got to work a little on maintaining my summer tan and I did a bit of "vegetation management" for next spring. I brushed out an area that I think will fit up to 8 twelve meter mist nets. I'm having visions of spring warbler flocks hanging like ornaments in the nets.

     I had to get out to see if there were any birds in some of the other spots I frequent and the answer was pretty much - no. I did happen upon a Northern Shrike out in a field and I watched a female Northern Harrier dive after a flock of small passerines as she floated by on her way south. About the only bird I got close to was a Red-winged Blackbird who was showing his new feathers after a whole summer of sitting in a cattail marsh somewhere. In a short 5 months he'll be back on that marsh with a fresh glossy black set of feathers and bright red epaulets. For now though he looks a bit cryptic:
      I won't see these birds until the first week of March. Spring seems so far away!


amr said...

If I'm correctly understanding what I've read, that Blackbird is actually in fresh feathers with the brownish edges that will wear off and reveal the sleek solid-black underneath by March.

Minnesota Birdnerd said...

amr -

That is an excellent point. I did not try to age the bird just by sight so you may be right. I'll check some resources and correct the post with what I find. I do know T.S.Roberts commented on how variable the plumage can be in first fall and winter birds.