Sunday, May 24, 2009

Late May Bird Banding

We started late yesterday. Walt was out of town and forgot to leave the gate key with Jim, who was our leader for the day. We waited a few hours for an NPS Ranger to show up and unlock the gate.

I had two guests this time, Mark and his coworker Kaori. And it was a good thing for me. There were three of us banders, so we ran only 9 nets. That meant I had 3 nets to myself on every run. Mark and Kaoari were great support holding the nets back, handing me sticks I could use as tools, and, most importantly, running the hummers back to the station to be processed ASAP. Hummers tend to be fragile creatures and it was hot in the canyon starting around 10 a.m.. Best to take care of them quickly.

The highlight for me was this Costa's Hummingbird; I had never seen one before. This is me getting him out of the net. Notice how his iridescent feathers look black from this angle.

And here he is on Kaori's hand. They often don't fly away right off, so she is providing a platform for his launch, once he decides to get up and go, which he did a few minutes later. You get the full effect of his iridescence from this angle.
Another treat was this Juvenile Western Scrub Jay. Look at the soft downy feathers on this head and the remnants of his gape (the wide usually yellowish mouth that nestlings have).
Another intersting bird - a Song Sparrow with some kind of problem with its head feathers.
Orange-crowned Warbler. You can only see his orange crown in the hand. This picture doesn't demonstrate it, but he had one!
And, the biggest treat of the day for me was the following bird. I saw the male flying around and hoped he would get in the net. Lo and behold, on the last net run I got my wish. Well close enough - I got the female Phainopepla.
She made lots of very unusual sounds when I was trying to take her out of the net. Kaori said she sounded like a car alarm.

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