I found a person who does bird banding in Los Angeles. It's in Zuma Canyon, on the coast, so I decided to join them yesterday. I'm a little out of practice at getting up so early, but I managed to drag myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m., and then drive the hour out to Zuma. I was met there by Walter Sakai, the master bander, and 5 other banders, including myself. There also was a Mom in attendance, who was observing. Here are a few highlights:
Common Yellowthroat. I've always found this name counterintuitive as this bird's appearance is anything but common. They are feisty, too.
One time I went to the net and there was a hummingbird caught in it. Any other time I've seen hummingbirds caught in nets, they have come out pretty easily. This one was quite entangled. It took me a little while to get it (her?) out and she was scolding me the whole time. I discovered just how flexible there bills are; when I had to pull the net over her head and bill, it curved nicely and allowed for an easier extraction. When I got her wings free, she would try to fly and I felt like I had a tiny beater in my fingers. I decided to let her go after I extracted her as 1) the first season (2006) I did Yosemite MAPS we released them at the net, 2) they are very small and need to eat constantly, and that net run we had gone out later than we should have so I was afraid she had been in there as long as 30 minutes 3) she was in the sun, which can be added stress for birds, and had been pretty entangled.
When I returned to the banding station Walter told me that they do process them and that I should have brought her back. Then, we would have been able to discern if it was an Allen's or a Rufous Hummingbird. Oh well, I don't regret giving her her immediate freedom. Walter also said that the birds' bills tend to be flexible when they are young, and become less so when they reach adulthood.
Yellow-Breasted Chat, our largest wood warbler. (This and the Common Yellowthroat are both wood warblers). Although, the Cornell site is saying that recent genetic data suggests that this isn't a wood warbler at all. So, the jury is out. Ah, science - changing its mind when faced with concrete evidence that what it has thought all along is incorrect. Crazy!
Last, the Swainson's Thrush. Fall migration has started! This bird breeds in the Northwest US during the spring/summer (among other places) and then heads to either Central or South America for the winter. I have never seen a Swainson's, but I heard their gorgeous, haunting song when I was in Arcata, CA last spring.
There were a lot of Black-hooded Parakeets in the canyon also. Thankfully none of them ended up in the nets (they tend to fly high). I wouldn't want to face one of those formidable bills! I'd be afraid of losing a finger.
Sunset Saturday night at 854 Hyperion Ave.