A Very Good Spring Day!

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Thursday April 30, 2015:  The winds last night were out of the Southwest, so I arrived at BBBO early this morning with high hopes for a 100 plus bird day. When we were finished, we had banded 68 new birds and handled 9 recaptures. This was still an exceptional early spring day. We had seventeen different species today, which is the highest number of species in one day so far this spring. There were three new species for the year: Western Palm Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Eastern Towhee. The bird of the day was the Ruby Crowned Kinglet (33 new birds). We also had 4 Brown Thrashers and a Fox Sparrow. The day was made even better by a good crew of volunteers composed of Gayle, Kyle, Jim, Barb, Aggie, Tom, Jeanne, Andrea, Betsy, and Ryan. Thanks for all of your help today.  – John Waud

The first Eastern Towhee of the season.  Photo by John Waud.

The first Eastern Towhee of the season. Photo by John Waud.

Finally, a 36 Bird Day!

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Wednesday April 29, 2015  36 new bands of 13 species; 3 retraps.  New species Red-winged Blackbird.

We had a milder day with a little more bird movement.  Bird of the day was Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 18 banded.

There were swarms of gnats again today as the air temperature warmed up, and we had three Blue-gray Gnatcatchers hanging around the station most of the morning.

We had quite a few visitors who enjoyed the sunshine and seeing birds close up.

Kyle was busy all morning sprucing up the net lanes in preparation for the many visitors from Cornell’s Spring Field Ornithology class scheduled for the weekend.

Betsy Brooks

Tuesday Low! Just Six Birds Banded!

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Tuesday April 28, 2015   Six new of six species; 8 retraps.

It was a VERY slow day with only six new birds banded!   It was a pleasant day but the winds were wrong.

Dan Niven stopped by.  Betsy mended a hole in one of the aerial nets while Nancy and Kyle observed.

Kyle entered the first batch of spring 2015 banding data into our database.

The MARS trailer arrived for the spring season so Katie and Stephanie can record the vocalizations of various warblers.

Ryan Kayhart, BIC




Yesterday’s Yellow Palm Warbler Re-visits!

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Monday April 27, 2015.  We had 27 new birds banded of 8 species.  There are 14 recaps, one of them the gorgeous Yellow Palm Warbler banded yesterday (a treat for Betsy’s first day back!).  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 18 banded.

We kept radar on all morning and dodged all the showers in the area.

We welcomed our Spring 2015 Field Assistant, Kyle Kennedy, currently from South Dakota where he received his M.S. in Integrative Genomics in 2012.  He was a Teaching Assistant at Drake University and also at the University of Minnesota Biological Research Station.

It was good to have the Monday crew back together again!

Betsy Brooks, BIC

Warbler Species #2

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Sunday April 26, 2015:  9 birds of 5 species; 6 recaps.  New species:  Palm Warbler.  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 5 new bands.

Ugh . . . another slow day!  Will the winds never change?  The morning started off cold and cloudy, but at least there was no wind.  As morning wore on, the sun came out and blue sky appeared.  The birds seemed to appreciate the warmth as much as we did, as most of our birds came near the end of our banding day.  The only item of note today is the first Palm Warbler of the season.  We decided it was of the “Yellow” subspecies, rather than the more common (for our area) “Western” subspecies.  eBird has a really neat animated map showing the migration timing of these two subspecies.  You can clearly see the Yellow Palms migrating first up the east coast, followed by a flush of Western birds through the midwest and Great Lakes region.  Pretty cool!

Yellow Palm Warbler

Yellow Palm Warbler.  Notice the bright yellow supercillium and the near lack of white on the breast and belly.  Photo by Ryan Kayhart.

Today’s Bird of the Day was not at BBBO!

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Saturday April 25, 2015:  17 new birds of 10 species, 20 recaps.  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with six new bands.  We banded the second Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler of the season, and managed to capture one of the Eastern Phoebes who have been singing incessantly about the station.

The real story today, however, is the story of our guests.  A group of students led by Dr. Sara Morris visited us from Canisius College.  This group of ten (plus Sara) only got to see a handful of species, but as always they made the most of each bird they saw.  Students got to see rectal bristles, filoplumes, a cloacal protuberance, fault bars, and leucistic feathers.  Class outdoors is almost always better than class inside!

It was also Bird of Prey Days over at the Braddock Bay Park, and the Raptor Research team had organized tours of our songbird banding station.  Other folks filtered through as well, and we counted approximately 22 adults and 14 kids at the station today.  Two guests came from London, and most of the rest were from New York.

Two visitors from Virginia made a big impression – teenager Sage has an interest in birds, and had saved money for a couple of years to come and visit our area.  He spent his on money on a scope, and has been working hard to educate himself on birds and birding careers.  We hope we’ll see him again!  Another youngster who impressed us all was Mason, a local boy who knows quite a lot about birds.  In fact, several of the children who stopped by told us about their feederwatch projects, about the habits of woodpeckers, and about other birdy things.  If today is any indication, the future of ornithology is in good hands.

We still haven’t told you of the guest who caused the biggest splash.  Adult visitor Candy was showing us pictures she had taken in her backyard, and among them was a Varied Thrush.  Jenna asked her if she lived in California, and Candy said the pictures were taken this morning in her backyard in Irondequoit!  This caused quite a stir at the station, and Candy was kind enough to allow us to post contact information to the local bird listserv so that others could observe and enjoy this rare visitor from the west.  Last we heard, she’s had a string of visitors at her house and many have been treated to good views of this fantastic bird.

Varied Thrush, photographed on 4/25/15 in Irondequoit, by Candy Giles.

Varied Thrush, photographed on 4/25/15 in Irondequoit, by Candy Giles.

The First Brown Thrasher

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SY-M Brown Thrasher Photo by Ryan Kayhart

SY-M Brown Thrasher
Photo by Ryan Kayhart

Friday, April 24, 2015.

We had a cold, slow day on Friday, April 24.  There were 27 birds brought in from the nets, but 18 of those were recaps!

One new species was highlighted on the list – the first Brown Thrasher of the spring!


If the 18 recaps, 15 were Black-capped Chickadees!

At one point, the nets looked interesting – all studded with snowflakes!  Yes, we had a brief snow shower at one point!

It was a great surprise to see Ryan coming from Vermont early this spring.  As always, he is a great help!

Marian Klik, BIC

A Pefectly Miserable Thursday

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Thursday, April 23 2015:  9 birds of 3 species, 6 recaps. No new species.  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 7 new bands.  The crew dodged the weather this morning, opening and closing nets between the bands of snow showers that peppered the lakeshore.  There’s nothing like Mother Nature to keep you on your toes!

This was the scene from the banding station on Thursday morning.

This was the scene from the banding station on Thursday morning.  Photo by Jim Saller.

Blue-headed Vireo New Species For Spring 2015!

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Wednesday April 22, 2015. It was damp and chilly, with very few birds banded, but it was good to be back at BBBO, and a slow start was good for the Wednesday crew to get back in the swing of things.  Rain threatened but did not materialize,  so we were able to run the full six hours with all nets opened.  We banded 14 new birds including a Hermit Thrush and a Blue-headed Vireo, the latter being a new species for the season.  Swamp Sparrow and Common Grackle were also new for the season.  We had 13 recaps. Cindy Marino, BIC

The first Blue-headed Vireo of the season.

The first Blue-headed Vireo of the season.

First Warbler!

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Tuesday April 21, 2015:  25 new birds of 13 species; 24 recaps.  New species:  Yellow-shafted Flicker, Blue Jay, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler.

There were south-ish winds overnight, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the rainy weather as it appeared most birds stayed put.  We didn’t get large numbers of new birds, and nearly half the birds we handled today were originally banded last weekend.  Nevertheless we did get our first warbler of the season.  Myrtle Warblers typically come early among warblers, and we were glad for this small sign that migration is on its way.

We banded two White-throated Sparrows today that were absolutely stunning in their color.  While we band hundreds of them each year, not all of them are as vividly colored as the one pictured below.  White-throated Sparrows come in two different color varieties (white and tan), and because the varieties always cross-mate, they keep the ratio of white to tan birds constant.  The two color varieties exhibit different behaviors (white morphs sing more, are more aggressive, migrate earlier, and refuel faster), which makes them a really great study subject.  Today, we were just happy to be able to study their gorgeous plumage!

White-throated Sparrow.  This white morph is exceptionally vividly colored!

White-throated Sparrow. This white morph is exceptionally vividly colored!

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