Spring Migration Monitoring: April 30

Yellow-breasted Chat by Brett Tryon

Finally it is feeling like spring! Today was the first day for weeks that we didn't have to contend with rain, snow, fog or wind. It was calm, sunny and bustling with birds. The first Purple Martins of the season were seen, and the breeding birds were busily defending territories and competing for mates. It was as if the Red-Wing Blackbird championship was underway, the males taking turns battling it out in mid-air, their feet locking and causing them to fall in a flapping fury to the ground.

We had a steady stream of birds, the majority of them Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were some Western Palm Warblers as well, and the first Yellow Warbler of the season. I tend to forget how incredibly brilliant they are, until I have that first spring male in the hand. One of the volunteers aplty called him a little drop of sunshine.

Yellow Warbler by Brett Tryon

The most exciting capture of the day however, was a Yellow-breasted Chat. It was only our second time banding a chat, the first record in 2007. Someone reported seeing one at the base of the spit in the "wet woods" yesterday, so it was amazing that it made it up to peninsula D and ended up in one of our nets. We likely would not have seen it otherwise, since they are such secretive birds and we were too busy with banding to go bird the study area. This highlights one of the values of banding, as it can often reveal species which are otherwise not observed.