Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Bird Banding

It was a little chilly Saturday morning at 6:30 when I arrived at Zuma Canyon for bird banding. Fall is here. We were expecting many migrants, but only ended up with one, a Wilson's Warbler, on our last net run. Oh, wait. There was a female Black-headed Grosbeak, also.
Both of these bird I see in Yosemite during the summers. They were on their ways south for the winter.

We mostly had Wrentits and California Thrashers, an endemic California songbird - and a cool-looking bird if there ever was one. Look at that bill!

Wrentits are interesting because they are the only American representative of the Old World babbler family. When foreign birders come to the US, they try to see these birds as they are very unique. They skulk in the chaparral, and are more often heard than seen, but they are our most common bird netted. And, I managed to not take any photos of them! Next time .... They are very hard to take out of the net because they usually have a death grip on the net with their feet. You have to convince them to let it go.
I had a hummingbird. This time, I actually took it back to the station and processed it. I discovered it was an adult female Anna's Hummingbird. Her heart beats so fast that she felt like she was purring. Her bill was not flexible either (not like the one described last time), so they must harden up when they hit adulthood. No photos because I was too worried about her health. They tend to "go fast", so I don't dally when I process them.
It was an exhausting day for me. Some of the nets are a good distance, and it gets hot once the sun comes up. And, getting up at 5:15 .m. isn't easy for me, either. I am out of practice.

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