07-22-13 Field Note

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07-22-13 Field Note

July 22, 2013

Kate Stone's field note provides details of point counts and nest checks, Songbird banding and The Raptor View Research Institute's new RFID tracking system.

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While out performing point counts or nest checks, we keep our eye on resident raptors for color bands. This provides RVRI with re-sighting data and alerts them of unbanded individuals, like this American kestrel.

It took me an hour to confirm the color combinations on this banded kestrel on the northern floodplain. RVRI originally captured him in the spring of 2012 near the rock pile. We have not seen him since. He shares a natural cavity nest on the floodplain with an unbanded female. 

These two banded red-tailed hawks hunted the northern center pivot field after Joel mowed this week. RVRI banded one (top) on 3/24/12 in Partridge Alley and suspected it was female. They banded the other (bottom) on 4/22/13 in the driveway of the Orchard House. Just after banding they observed him copulating with another banded red-tailed hawk. 

Avian Science Center: Songbird Banding Gray catbirds and house wrens dominated captures this week. Banders retrieved a fourth geolocator from a returning gray catbird and deployed several more. Young catbirds, house wrens, and yellow warblers found their way into nets.

The ASC crew recaptured the “purple” finch first caught last week. They painstakingly re-measured the bird and confirmed that it displayed definitive characters of both t

This after-second-year male Bullock’s oriole flew into a net with another male in the midst of a territorial dispute.

This recaptured gray catbird carried the fourth retrieved geolocatorA failed catbird nest still contains a single, ant-covered egg. Catbirds with early nest failures often attempt a second nest.

This little catbird jumped out of the nest and right into a net. It still lacked much of a tail and displayed the wide gape, or mouth opening, typical of nestlings. The ASC banders processed it quickly and returned it to its nest shrub.

Banders use the number of red waxy tips and the width of yellow on the tail to help sex cedar waxwings. This female house wren displayed one of the best brood patches we have ever seen. The banders processed her quickly so she could get back to incubating.

This season RVRI is working to develop a way to use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to monitor American kestrels. Attaching passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to leg bands, and RFID scanners to nest boxes, RVRI will remotely gather valuable data. They also hope to apply this technology to natural cavity nest sites. Commercially available RFID reading systems are expensive and not adaptable to all aspects of this project. RVRI and MPG Ranch staff decided to create their own custom circuit boards at a fraction of the cost of commercial systems. RVRI plans to test the system on three different nestboxes this year.

Each RFID reader is hand made and programmed by RVRI and MPG Ranch staff.

Boxes outfitted with RFID scanners have an antennae located around the inside of the entrance. Each time a PIT tag goes past the antennae, its unique ID, the date, and time are stored on a computer located beneath the box in a weatherproof container.

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