Thursday August 24, 2017:  32 new birds of 19 species; 9 recaps.  New species:  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Veery, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Prairie Warbler.  Bird of the day was Magnolia Warbler with 4 new bands, followed by Mourning Warbler with 3 new bands.

Something shifted in the weather overnight, and we saw our first real push of confirmed migrants moving through the area.  While our numbers weren’t large today, the species diversity – and the number of species that had a first-of-the-fall bird – was great for this time of year.

Our first puzzler hit early in the morning:

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We don’t get many birds with a solid yellow-green back, wing and tail.  Most of our birds fitting that description are Common Yellowthroats, but this bird was a bit chunkier, and the head and neck just weren’t right.  A quick flip through our Warbler Guide convinced us he was a young Mourning Warbler.  He was traveling with this adult female of the same species, who looks quite different with her grey head, white eye crescents, and smudgy-white throat:

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Shortly afterwards, we caught this sharp looking lady:

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The tiger-striped streaking on the belly, the yellow wash behind the ear, and the slightly decurved bill settle this bird as a Cape May Warbler.  Although you can’t see it in this photo, she also has a yellowish-green rump and the soles of her otherwise black feet are yellow – a combination we don’t see in other birds.

The final stickler of the day was this (unfortunately unphotogenic) young lady:

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She wasn’t a bird any of us had ever seen in the hand before, but some key features stuck out . . . the lack of white wing bars, the overall yellow-green color, the light crescents around the eyes, the black pattern on the face, and her itty-bitty stature.  The Warbler Guide came to the rescue again, and we identified her as a Prairie Warbler.  How special is she?  Since 1986, she is the 10th Prairie Warbler to be banded at BBBO, and only the second to be banded in the fall.  The first fall Prairie was banded in 1988 . . . it’s been a long wait!

To round our our circle of warblers, here’s one that’s not quite so confusing . . . our Bird of the Day – the Magnolia Warbler.

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