07-13-15 Bird Field Note

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07-13-15 Bird Field Note

July 13, 2015

This weeks bird field note highlights a Chestnut-sided Warbler observation, plus catbird and hummingbird research.

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Bird Field Note Field observations, Gray Catbirds Compiled by: Eric Rasmussen 07/12/15

A Yellow-breasted Chat sings in Woodchuck Creek. A second individual hides in the underbrush giving subtle call notes, suggesting a female with a possible nest.

Lazuli Buntings sing well into the heat of the day, after most birds quiet down.

An adult male Bullock’s Oriole (above) tends to a fledgling (below).

In Woodchuck Creek I observed a singing male Chestnut-sided Warbler. A yellow cap, black mustache line, and chestnut flanks identify it. This is the 4th Missoula County eBird record and the 2nd record on MPG.

A Dusky Flycatcher lies motionless on a low nest in Aspen.

Aspen. Spotted Towhees spook easily from singing perches, though this bird let me near.

An adult male Calliope Hummingbird displays elongated throat feathers when hunched forward.

Female Calliope Hummingbirds feed voraciously at both sites, most likely due to hungry nestlings. Their number of visits, and time spent feeding, doubled in the last two weeks.

Absent early in the season, Rufous Hummingbirds appeared in the last three weeks. Adult males produce a louder hum, from wing movement, than other hummingbirds in our area.

when the light hits it just right. Rufous Hummingbirds are notoriously aggressive near nectar sources. This male displaces a female Calliope (foreground). Luckily she can choose from four other feeders.

With two weeks of point counts left we transition away from grasslands to higher ground.

Gray catbirds returned to the MPG Ranch on May 19th. The males immediately paired up with females and began singing to establish territories. We color-banded the adults to find nests, determine territory delineation, and locate fledglings to track. To date, we have colorbanded a total of 42 catbirds. We fondly refer to the male catbird below as ketchup/mustard, due to his color-band combination: Aluminum, Yellow, Red, Red (AYRR).

We have located a total of 36 nests. Initiation dates range from 6/2-6/20, and hatch dates range from 6/13-7/1. Twenty-four nests are currently active and 12 have failed due to predation or abandonment. The Northern Floodplain is by far the most productive area.

A catbird on the Clubhouse Floodplain gathers long nest material. The size of material suggests this bird is in the beginning stages of building. The shorter the material, the closer the birds are to completing the nest.

An adult catbird brings food to hungry nestlings (above). These nestlings hatched four to five days ago. At this age their eyes are closed, they can lift their heads, and they grow feather tracks on the wings.

An eight-day old catbird nestling sits in the nest (above). Twelve of 24 active nests contain nestlings and three nests fledged already. We affixed transmitters to six young, two from each nest, and will track them to determine survival and characteristics of habitat use. In the next few weeks, we will continue to monitor active nests, affix transmitters to nestlings, and track their movements.

Previous Field Note

06-29-15 Bird Field Note