10-28-14 Bird Field Note

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10-28-14 Bird Field Note

October 28, 2014

Eric Rasmussen's Bird Field Note details a new species sighting, hummingbird research, and raptor banding.

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Bird Field Note Shrubby draws, hummingbird update, raptor surveys Eric Rasmussen 10/24/2014

We continued to see low numbers and diversity during shrubby draw surveys. Our most unusual species was a White-throated Sparrow detected in Sheep Camp.

A White-throated Sparrow uses a dense hawthorn shrub for cover.

An immature Northern Shrike hunts a small flock of birds in Sheep Camp.

The quick movements of Rubycrowned Kinglets caught the shrike’s eye. The kinglets did not appear alarmed by the potential threat.

The kinglets flew circles around the ill-equipped shrike as they foraged insects around a hawthorn.

Squirrels are busy gathering and storing food for the winter.

This squirrel gnaws loose a ponderosa pine cone.

It then examines the exact landing spot.

A Pied-billed Grebe in the pump slough on October 22nd marks our 212th species.

American Tree Sparrows arrive from their northern breeding grounds.

Dark-eyed Juncos work the ground for seeds.

Hummingbird numbers spiked mid-July through early August with fledglings and dispersing birds in our region. Numbers dropped off in mid-August with migration, and no detections occurred after August 20th. Cameras detected no birds during the month of October. Black-chinned Hummingbird and total hummingbird counts were highest at low elevation sites. Calliope Hummingbirds led detections at mid and high sites. Rufous Hummingbird numbers were lower at all sites.

This Calliope Hummingbird was one of the last birds seen during our survey.

A Rufous Hummingbird fuels up for the long journey to Mexico.

This week we recorded 133 raptors of 12 different species, our lowest total since the season’s first seven days. We counted more Red-tailed Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, and Sharpshinned Hawks than other species. Though we anticipate most daily totals to be fairly low during the next few weeks, there will likely be a few big days as Red-tailed Hawks and Rough-legged Hawks take advantage of periods of favorable weather.

This week we banded nine raptors of four different species. Our lower site on Indian Ridge was again the more productive of our two banding stations; we have banded over two-thirds of our total at this lower blind.

The Bird Banding Lab contacted us this week regarding a Sharp-shinned Hawk we banded on September 8 at our West Baldy Ridge trapping location. We have yet to receive specific details, but know that someone found the hatch-year female dead in Arizona. We hope to learn more about the circumstances of the mortality, but we’re excited to learn any information about these small migrants travel after passing over the MPG Ranch, since they are too small to be tracked with GPS transmitters. Though band recoveries are rare, they are the best tool we currently have to track individuals of smaller species.

We captured our ninth Red-tailed Hawk of the season: a hatch-year, dark-morph bird.

raptor release

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10-22-14 Bird Field Note