Morse Preserve: June 12th, 2011
By Emma White
In Attendance: Ben Vang-Johnson (driver), Mark Colombino, Emma White, Erin Sara Beach-Garcia, Clarice Clark.
Rufous Hummingbird 11
Pacific Wren 3
Bewick’s Wren 4
Brown Creeper 1
Chestnut-Backed Chickadee 3
Black-Capped Chickadee 4
Hutton’s Vireo 1
American Robin 2
Swainson’s Thrush 5
Orange-Crowned Warbler 2
Spotted Towhee 4
Song Sparrow 3
Purple Finch 3
Oregon Junco 5
June 12th dawned bright and early as I had my first day at Morse Preserve.
The day started at five, as all of us helped to assemble the ten nets around the preserve. The excitement began as a Hutton’s Vireo flew into one of the nets as it was being put up, and the day continued to be busy from there. All four banders were continuously working to band and record data about each bird that was captured, and there was rarely a free moment.
For me, the excitement never ended. As I sat and watched, or helped scribe for one of the three banders, they would frequently explain to me what certain things meant, or how to find them on a bird. I was shown protruded cloacals, a few brood patches that were almost gone, a couple different stages of skull development, and I began to understand how important Pyle is to the banding process.
Among the most exciting captures of the day for me was the Hutton’s Vireo at the beginning, the Orange-Crowned Warbler that became stressed during the banding process, all of the different Wrens (Pacific and Bewick’s) that were caught, and the Brown Creeper that flew into a net as we were standing there later in the morning. The Hutton’s Vireo and Brown Creeper were the only ones of their kind to make it into our nets. The Orange-Crowned Warbler was captured by the nets twice on June 12th, first in net six, and then later in net five.
The Wrens, on the other hand, were pretty numerous. Two Pacific Wrens and two Bewick’s Wrens were newly banded, while two Bewick’s Wrens and one Pacific Wren were recaptured. This left us with a grand total of seven different Wrens at Morse in one day! We also had five Swainson Thrush’s today, which always seem to be common at Morse. Today we had two that were newly banded, and three recaptures.
Among our twelve unbanded birds for the day, eleven of the twelve were Rufous Hummingbirds, the grand majority of which were females. This is a large number of Rufous Hummingbirds to be caught in one day, especially since none of them had made it into any of PSBO’s nets in the past.
A note of interest on this day were the orange mites that were found on three different individuals, of three different species. These birds, a Purple Finch, a Song Sparrow, and a Pacific Wren, all had these bright orange mites on their cloacals. Mites are pretty common on birds, although Daniel Froehlich mentioned that he has been seeing more of these orange mites on cloacals this year than he has in past year. We’ll have to wait and see whether the increased presence of these mites will have an impact on these bird species.
One of the last birds that was caught in a net was a Bushtit. I knew they were small; seeing them up close and personal just emphasizes how absolutely tiny Bushtits truly are.
While we had many recaptures today, only a few of them were from previous years. This included one Oregon Junco that had been originally banded on May 31st, 2009 as an after second year (ASY) male. This was his first capture since that date. When we captured him this year, we also deemed him to be an ASY, meaning that this bird is likely at least five years old! More exciting was a Swainson’s Thursh who was originally caught and banded on June 1, 2008 as a second year (SY) bird of unknown sex. This guy has proceeded to return to Morse every year in the past three years, and was later identified as male. The presence of a cloacal protudence on him the last couple of years (2009-2011) indicates that he could possibly be a returning breeder at Morse, which is very exciting!
Another exciting recapture was of a Black-Capped Chickadee. This small bird was originally banded on August 4th, 2007 as a juvenile! He returned to Morse every year (excluding 2010) and was only identified as a male bird this year. These are the birds that we love to see in this study: the birds that return every year and help us compile a really good set of data that can help us determine which birds are breeding in the area. This was the first year he had a cloacal protrudence, but it may be an indication that after four years, he’s decided that Morse is good breeding ground!
Overall, the day at the Morse Preserve was very successful. 52 birds were captured in the nets. 24 of them were newly banded, 16 were recaptures, and 12 were unbanded. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot, and can’t wait to see what else I can learn on June 26th at the Morse Preserve again!