07-05-14 Bird Field Note

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07-05-14 Bird Field Note

July 5, 2014

Kate Stone's Field Note shows the most recent Lewis's Woodpecker research, songbird banding efforts, and gps tracking of Gray Catbirds.

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Bird Field Note July 4, 2014 Lewis’s Woodpeckers, Songbird Banding, Gray Catbirds Kate Stone

Lewis’s Woodpeckers We continued capturing woodpeckers, looking for marked birds, monitoring nests, and observing behavior at nests. We captured 9 of 11 individuals at the marmot colony. We caught one at the Guest House, and another near a nest at the north end of the Guest House floodplain.

We caught most woodpeckers in our drop-down net over a suet feeder at the marmot colony. Three trapped themselves by getting tangled in the net. Placing a perch near the trap increased visitation rates. When we placed a trap near a nest site, one woodpecker often guarded the feeder and prevented other individuals from using it. We saw less territoriality over the feeder at the marmot colony, approximately 0.3 miles from a known nest. This behavior may partially explain our relatively high success rate trapping at the marmot colony and low success rate at nest sites.

We continued to experiment with different capture methods. We captured one woodpecker in a cage trap, and one on a suet feeder covered with nooses. We will try these new trap types more in the next week.

As we examined more birds, our ability to identify variation in molt patterns increased. The top picture shows a bird with rough, dark edges along its secondary feathers. The bottom picture shows a patch of dark, older primary coverts. These patterns indicate at least two generations of adult feathers, and may help us determine age.

The stress of capture did not prevent two birds from returning to feed at the suet trap, one within a day of release.

We re-sighted five of our marked birds at nests. This one guarded a nest on the Guest House floodplain, approximately 0.75 miles from its capture location at the marmot colony. While foraging, the woodpeckers traveled much farther than we anticipated.

anticipated. We identified 13 Lewis’s Woodpecker nests, many in the same trees and/or nest holes as in previous years. We marked birds at five nests, indicated in blue on the map. Many nests lie within site of at least one other nest.

Student interns helped us observe behavior at nests. We can combine behavior, vocalizations, and morphometrics to predict the sex of individuals. Eventually we will confirm our predictions with a blood analysis. The wing display shown below suggests that the unmarked bird on the left is the male, while the marked bird on the right is the female.

We used the peeper camera to check on nest stage and number of young. Development stage varied by nest, but all now have partially or fully feathered nestlings. We expect some nests to fledge in the next week.

Adults brought the nestlings a wide variety of insects and fruits. We saw several serviceberry deliveries. This particular woodpecker chose to nest in the same tree as European Starlings and American Kestrels.

Rainy weather delayed banding by one day and forced an early closure of nets on Friday, June 27. Despite the meteorological challenges, they captured a total of 38 birds of 13 species, including the first hummingbirds of the season. They also captured their first “Hatch-year” birds, or birds born this season. Hatch-year captures included an American Robin and a Song Sparrow.

The bright yellow body, dark black head, and dark black flight feathers indicate this male American Goldfinch is at least two years old.

The spotted plumage of a Hatch-year American Robin provides camouflage from predation in the nest and just after fledging. It will lose its spots approximately a month after fledging.

Sharon and her crew deployed 14 new GPS PinPoint units to track Gray Catbirds through migration and over winter. They collected two geolocators from last year and have seen at least two other birds with them.

Five nestling catbirds now bear tiny radio transmitters to track movements and survival after fledging

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