09-20-13 Bird Field Note

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09-20-13 Bird Field Note

September 20, 2013

The MPG Ranch bird crew, RVRI, and ASC share highlights from their fall migration projects, including a second Sage Thrasher detection.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch

A young sharp-shinned hawk perches in an aspen above Sheep Camp and searches for prey.

sharp-shinned hawk perches in an aspen above Sheep Camp and searches for prey. DL Kate detects the second sage thrasher of the season perched on a black hawthorn near the Tongue Creek spring.

A wren-like chatter alerts us to the presence of migrating ruby-crowned kinglets.

The first half of the second week was cool and wet. Migration paused and forest fire smoke cleared from the valleys. High pressure built on 9/9. Activity increased during the latter half of the week. Our highest daily count occurred on 9/12 with 45 migrants. Favorable north and east winds brought the first pulse of migrants on the heels of the storm. Notable migrants included accipiters, American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, osprey, and northern harriers. We also saw our first broad-winged hawks of the season. Another storm system from the Pacific will usher in fall-like temperatures and moisture by the middle of next week. We anticipate raptors ahead of and behind that system.

Our first merlin displays aggression towards the decoy owl and a resident American kestrel.

An immature broad-winged hawk (above) and an immature Cooper’s hawk (below) migrate within minutes of each other.

Trapping of migrant diurnal raptors began this week. We moved the West Baldy Ridge site higher to make the lure birds more visible. We also constructed a new site above the floodplain to trap more raptors on low cloud cover days. In the first four days of trapping, we captured six raptors of four different species.

The first migrant captured this season, this young red-tailed hawk displays it wingspan.

On the second day of trapping season, we capture a hatch-year Cooper’s hawk.

Flocks of cedar waxwings continue to give the floodplain site the most captures. Without them, capture numbers would be relatively similar at all sites. Though most warbler numbers declined, the crew caught an amazing amount of Wilson’s warblers, especially at the higher elevation sites.

These two different sparrow species lend themselves to in-the-hand identification. Above, the clean gray nape and distinct facial markings identify this bird as a clay-colored sparrow. Below, an adult vesper sparrow molts many of its flight feathers.

Special captures this week include a Golden-crowned kinglet (above) and a hatch-year, male Cooper’s hawk (below).

KS The Cooper’s hawk flies to the nearest tree and flushes a group of startled songbirds.