Morse MAPS July 20, 2013 Field Report

Report from the Field : Morse Preserve MAPS July 20, 2013
By Don Norman, PSBO board member

The July 20th session was just me and 1 other bander – Dana Acevedo, who escaped her 2 kids to try and get the rust out of her fingers. And she was fast! She covered 7 nets while I did 9, 7 and 8. It was a still day but stayed foggy for the entire morning, making the data sheets wet. But the stillness also kept the number of birds down, so we were able to check out the individual differences present on each bird.

I had a juvenile Robin with about 10 strands of net around the back of its tongue right at the trammel line.  It was one of those times when you wish there was a better extractor around, but, darn, it’s me!  So, once again, I kicked myself for not being prepared with a crochet hook like Clarice always has. I had to lean down and find a stick and slowly lift the loops over the tongue, only to find that some were twisted.  It’s never easy.  Plus, the Robin wanted to help with its feet and another Robin caught in the net nearby kept squawking.  Finally, after getting several loops off, I tried the ‘sliding the threads over to side of the bill’ trick and voila! The bird did the work and the last loops were off. Whew!

We did catch another mystery bird.  If you saw the one from last week, that’s a good hint.

'Mystery Bird'. Check last week's post for hints. Photo by Don Norman.

We caught 2 adult male Western Tanagers – one Second Year and one After Second Year – and though the face look similar on both birds, the difference was apparent by the molt limit in the tertials, as well as the clear difference in the retrix color and shape.  The SY bird’s was brown and worn and clearly pointed on the tips while the AST was very dark and full with truncate tips.  Just to keep things interesting, the left side has a retained T1 while the T2 and T3 were molted but on the right side all three molted.  You can see the fresh tertials that molted in the spring compare with the juvenile retrices and the unmolted T1 tert.

Second year Western tanager. Photo by Don Norman.

We also captured a dad and junior Black-headed Grosbeak.  I wish I had a picture the fuzzy headed juvenile grosbeak, but I got distracted by the abundance of fat on the vent and rump of the male grosbeak.  It was hard holding the bird, blowing, and taking a photo, but you can see the yellowish fat.

Black-headed Grosbeak ASY Male showing lots of rump fat. Photo by Don Norman

We also had a nice example of the molting Robin that shows the formative molt coming in.

Juvenile American Robin showing the formative molt. Photo by Don Norman.

We also had a very interesting Steller’s Jay that was very fluffy and with some juvenile like plumage but the roof of the mouth was completely black!  But we were very distracted by the bird of the day. This male sharp-shinned hawk is the first ever capture of this species at Morse. Watch out for those talons!  Each one draws blood!

Male sharp-shinned hawk - first ever capture at Morse. Photo by Don Norman.

Since we did not have Pyle #2, we just took measurements, tail, tarsus and bill. Along with the excitement we almost forgot the cardinal rule – watch for hawks when you are banding noisy birds, like robins and grosbeaks. We spotted another hawk nearby, and it got close enough to us for us to see that it was un-banded.

And finally a fun photo.  Hawks are actually easily weighed.  You just pop them into a can and they calm down.

Weighing a sharp-shinned hawk

The last MAPS banding session will be August 3. Hope you can join us!

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