07-31-14 Bird Field Note

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07-31-14 Bird Field Note

July 31, 2014

Kate Stone's Bird Field Note shows songbird banding, acoustic monitoring for black swifts, nighthawks, and hummingbirds.

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Kate Stone Bird Field Note Songbird Banding, Nighthawk, Hummingbirds, Black Swifts 7/25/14

Avian Science Center: Songbird Banding: July 17th, 24th

When birds molt prior to migration, they replace every feather on their body. The Townsend’s Warbler above exhibits wing molt, which occurs symmetrically on both wings. In order to have flight feathers of the best quality, songbirds typically molt a few feathers at a time to maximize quality of each feather. This strategy also allows them to maintain flight through the molt process. Birds also replace all of their body feathers, called contour feathers. The Yellow Warbler below molts new contour feathers on its belly.

A Black-headed Grosbeak showing the fleshy gape of the bill and fluffy body feathers indicative of a young bird.

Young songbirds often show drab plumage, similar to that of adult females, making them impossible to sex. In addition to a gape and fluffy body feathers, this young Common Yellowthroat has two light wing bars, only present on recent fledglings. It will lose these wing bars in its first molt.

molt. Marirose found the third Common Nighthawk nest of the season on South Baldy Ridge.

A long, graduated tail and rufous throughout the body and under the tail indicate a Rufous Hummingbird.

ER A perched Rufous Hummingbird shows the long, graduated tail with slight rufous under the tail. This bird lacks rufous on its flanks, suggesting worn plumage of an adult female.

The Montana Black Swift Working Group asked us to apply some of our technological expertise to acoustically detect and monitor Black Swift breeding. We set up an acoustic monitor near the closest swift nest, approximately 20 miles southwest of MPG Ranch. Black Swifts typically nest next to or behind cascading waterfalls. Though they will likely never breed on the ranch, we have seen a few of them flying overhead during spring migration. DL

While checking the acoustic monitor, we confirmed at least one Black Swift incubating on a moss nest in the waterfall cavern. We could easily see it using a thermal imagery camera. Cold and wet nesting conditions limit Black Swifts to one nestling per year.

Previous Field Note

07-28-14 Bird Field Note