Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Bird Banding

We had an exciting morning yesterday as we got an unusual bird. Walt has been banding in Zuma Canyon for, I think, 20 years, and he has never caught this bird. It is a rare stray to the Western U.S., and to think it landed in one of our nets!

It's the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. If you look at the range map on the right in the link, you will see it is an eastern bird, but there are records of it straying this far west.

This is a male in his winter plumage. This is his breeding plumage.
Here's Walt getting the band ready for the bird. You have to do that and hold it at the same time, which can be tricky.
Here in the west we have more commonly have the Black-headed Grosbeak.

The canyon also seemed to be suddenly flooded with singing Orange-crowned Warblers. Two weeks ago I didn't hear any, which makes me think they are migrating north right now. Though Walt says there is a resident population, too. I was really excited I heard one on a net run. I tried to find it for a while to get visual confirmation (I had heard its song and was positive, but wanted to be extra-positive about the ID). Well, I couldn't find it, but I got back to the station and said, "Walt, I know I hear an Orange-crowned Warbler." Lo and behold, one had been caught in a net already and was being processed. Old news to everyone already back at the station.
It's hard to see the orange crown in the field with binoculars. You have to have it in your hand and actually move the feathers around on his head to see it.

These plants were in bloom all over the place. It's a ribes. I think the common name is some kind of gooseberry; I'm not sure. I got this info from other people as I'm not so great at plants.

And, I was saving the daintiest for last. We got a few Anna's Hummingbirds. Here is one. I think it was a female.
Oh - and we got a few Bewick's Wrens. I love its eye stripe.

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