Thursday October 30, 2014: 31 new birds of 9 species; 20 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 9 new bands.  We seem to have caught the tail end for the migration of many of our most common species, as the numbers of migrants are definitely dwindling.  However, we appear to be capturing (or re-capturing) Downy Woodpeckers more frequently than we often do.  Today, we processed three different Downies.

Yesterday, we showed a photo of a second year Red-bellied Woodpecker who had replaced 4 outer primary coverts, which is a molt pattern typical not only in Red-bellies but also Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.  Today, our Downy Woodpeckers were all hatch-year birds.  Notice how all the primary coverts are uniform and brownish, and that they contrast with the rest of the wing (which is black).  This is a typical molt pattern for hatch year Downies.  Because woodpeckers have more complicated molt patterns involving feathers that are retained for 2 calendar years, we are able to age them even into their third or after-third years.

Hatch-year Downy Woodpecker showing retained juvenile primary coverts, and replaced formative plumage on the rest of the wing.

Hatch-year Downy Woodpecker showing retained juvenile primary coverts, and replaced formative plumage on the rest of the wing.

Yesterday’s woodpecker had a reddish eye, typical of older birds.  Today’s birds all had the brownish eyes typical of young birds.  Changing eye-color (from brownish to reddish) is something  many woodpecker species share as well.

HY

Hatch-year Downy Woodpecker. Notice the brown eye.

Usually upon release, the Downy Woodpeckers fly to a nearby convenient tree to get their bearings.  The young male below appears to be playing peek-a-boo from a nearby branch.

HY

Hatch-year male Downy Woodpecker