Monday, October 29, 2007

Final songbird #s from Lucky Peak

Hi Folks .... (scroll down for a few photos)

I was delayed in getting to this because a day after closing up shop (on Oct 15) I flew east for a high school buddy's wedding in the Catskills Mountains of NY (awesome fall colors! - 1st time in many years that I've gotten to see that) and a short family visit. Thus, I just got done counting & re-counting the #s. Here we go:

During autumn 2007 (16 July to Oct 15), we captured 5771 birds of 56 different species. Our netting effort this year was 4116 mist net hours; this effort is lower than usual because we experienced a number of rainy and/or windy days that either prevented us from netting or reduced the number of nets that could be opened. The 2007 capture rate of 1.40 birds per mist net hour (which comes to 70 birds on an average day on which we open all 10 nets for 5 hours) is the 2nd highest in the 11 years of the study (2nd to the record season of 2006, when the capture rate was an amazing 1.71). Thus, if anything we are seeing a slight increase in captures over the years for a number of species. And, this is reflected in the fact that 2007 set record years for 8 species (and several others were tied or close 2nd). The new records set in 2007 are (in numerical order):

Dark-eyed Junco 1111 (previous high of 918 in 2006)
Yellow Warbler 290 (previous high of 186 in 2001)
Warbling Vireo 216 (previous high of 193 in 2006)
Cassin's Vireo 117 (previous high of 114 in 1999)
Brewer's Sparrow 87 (previous high of 58 in 2000)
Swainson's Thrush 26 (previous high of 20 in 2006)
Northern Pygmy-owl 10 (previous high of 5 in 2000)
Steller's Jay 4 (previous high of 3 in 2001)

Interestingly, 2007 was the first year in which Ruby-crowned Kinglets (shown here) were not the most abundant species (we caught 788; 2nd to Dark-eyed Juncos this year) and only the 3rd time we've not banded at least 1000 of this species in a season. We lost so many days and partial days to weather during the RC Kinglet peak (mid-Sept into October) that this result isn't surprising. But, it really was a stellar year for the juncos ...

Rarities/highlights from this season included the 5th Blackpoll Warbler we've banded at this site (Sept 7), our first capture of a Black-throated Gray Warbler (Aug 19), our 5th American Redstart (Aug 22), our 4th ever Green-tailed Towhee, and 4 Golden-crowned Sparrows (Sep 17, 21 [2 birds] and Oct 7). Also, in early August we captured a Willow Flycatcher that was previously banded by someone else (don't know who or where yet...).

Enjoy the late fall/early winter birding!


2 pictures of a Northern Pygmy-owl captured on Oct 11, 2007; notice the side view of the false eye-spot (below).

A Brown Creeper captured on Oct 15, 2007.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10-10-07 update

Sorry Folks for the long delay!

Between the bad weather getting me down, a lovely stomach flu ;-), and the activity being generally busy on Lucky Peak, I haven't had time to post for a while. And now I find myself 5 days from the end of the songbird season (Carlos is flying home to Venezuela tomorrow!) ....

Many weather events have punctuated the last 2.5 weeks and have made the migration a little helter-skelter. In fact, the owl netting has been the most consistent aspect of the project lately as Northern Saw-whet Owl migration has picked up speed and multiple owls have been caught nightly for at least the last week. If only we could get a calm night, maybe we could catch more!

Hawks & songbirds have been more hit or miss as it seems we've either had rain or strong SE winds for much of the last couple weeks. However, on days without these downer types of weather, flights have been very strong as birds seem to be migrating in any window of decent weather. Thus, I expect any decent weather days in the coming week or 2 to be pretty good days to see loads of juncos as well as the possibility of a Northern Goshawk, Merlin, or maybe even a Rough-legged Hawk migrate past Lucky Peak.

Highlights from the last week include a possible Slate-colored Junco (maybe it was a hybrid but pretty close anyway) captured today and an adult 'Harlan's' Red-tailed Hawk caught by Eric Hallingstad on Saturday. We see Harlan's every year but rarely catch them - this may be the first adult we've ever banded! See pictures below.

Lastly, we finish the songbird season on Monday, October 15th; owls wrap up on Oct 28; and hawk counting continues thru the end of the month.


Below are 3 images of the adult Harlan's Hawk banded on October 6, 2007. Noted the white spots on the dark chest and the marbled tail:

The next 2 images are from a Dark-eyed Junco showing signs of being the Slate-colored subspecies. The photos didn't come out too well (terrible lighting today) but the first picture shows that the sides of the chest are grayish and lack the pink tones of Oregon or Pink-sided. However, the back (2nd image) shows more brownish than ideal for Slate-colored (especially for an adult, which this bird was). Thus, likely best left as an Unidentified Dark-eyed Junco subspecies.
Here is an adult male Oregon Junco for comparison - note the pink sides of the chest.
Mission: to contribute to the conservation of western migratory landbirds through cooperative research and public education