4/06/2010

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Spring Migration Monitoring: Week 1



Yellow Palm Warbler by Brett Tryon


Migration monitoring got off to a fantastic start this spring. TTP has been bustling with bird activity, and the weather has been beautiful. We were actually able to band 5 days in a row without the rain stopping us, which is unheard of in the beginning of April.

Each morning we arrive 50 minutes before sunrise, and are greeted by the nasal peent calls of American Woodcock. One morning on my way to set up nets, I heard the twittering sound of a Woodcock doing its aerial courtship display. Straining my eyes in the moonlight, I finally spotted it fluttering above a clearing. It spiraled higher and higher into the sky until finally it became a tiny speck, then zig-zagged back toward the ground.

By dawn the Woodcock have stopped calling, and the stage is taken by American Robins, Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds. Occasionally a Winter Wren regales us with its musical, never ending melody. There has been the odd Fox Sparrow singing, which we rarely see at TTP, as they do not breed here. Everywhere is the chipping and trills of Dark-eyed Juncos, the high-pitched whines of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and the chattering of Black-capped Chickadees. On April 2 we were delighted when our Tree Swallows arrived. Once we cleaned out the nest box behind the station, they immediately started investigating it and squabbling over the valuable real estate.

We have had great waterfowl viewing this week. Long-tailed Ducks, mergansers, Bufflehead and Scaup are still plentiful. All week there has been a beautiful male Wood Duck hanging around, as well as two Northern Pintails, Canvasbacks, Blue-winged Teals, Green-winged Teals, Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeons and Gadwall. Spotted for the first time on Monday was a White-winged Scoter and a Pied-billed Grebe.

Northern Shrikes have been seen in the study area throughout the week, whereas they are usually gone by now. On Sunday one was calling for hours above one of our nets, and finally we caught it! Taking it out of the net, I found out first-hand how sharp and powerful that hooked bill really is!

Northern Shrike by volunteer Juan Zuloaga

On Monday the first warbler was spotted - a singing male Palm Warbler. Shortly after being spotted, it disappeared - only to turn up in a net! As it turned out, it wasn't the typical Western Palm Warbler, but a Yellow Palm Warbler which is uncommon in this region.

With such gorgeous weather on the weekend, we had lots of visitors; some familiar faces, and many who didn't even know about us. It is always rewarding to show someone bird banding for the first time and watch their eyes light up at the sight of a tiny songbird up close. Remember to visit us on weekends, but keep in mind that the shuttle van doesn't start running until May. We do start banding 30 minutes before sunrise and finish by 1:30, so make sure to get there early!

Banding Totals - Week 1

SPECIES

Apr-01

Apr-02

Apr-03

Apr-04

Apr-05

Weekly Total

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker





1

1

Downy Woodpecker







Eastern Phoebe

3

2



1

6

Northern Shrike




1



Black-capped Chickadee



1

1


2

Brown Creeper

2

2

2

1

2

9

Winter Wren


3




3

Golden-crowned Kinglet

10

19

6

8

15

58

Hermit Thrush


1



1

2

American Robin





2

2

Yellow Palm Warbler





1

1

Northern Cardinal


1




1

Eastern Towhee



1



1

American Tree Sparrow

1


1



2

Fox Sparrow


2

1



3

Song Sparrow

7

7

1

1

3

19

Swamp Sparrow

1





1

Dark-eyed Junco

1

8

2

2

3

16

Daily Total

25

45

15

14

29

Grand Total: 128