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July 5, 2008 / stephanie

First Hatch-years + downy

This morning just “flew” by, with 15 birds banded in 4 hours. We also caught a few extras though which managed to escape. This included a very nice Brown Thrasher, which I would have loved to band. Too bad! One reason for all the bandings was the nice weather, sunny and no wind. The other reason was all the fledglings! A lot of the birds we caught were newbies, just born this year. They are officially called hatch-years.

This catbird was one of four hatch-year catbirds that we banded today.

If you remember my previous blog entry about catbirds a couple weeks ago, one characteristic we check is the mouth color. This baby bird has a yellow mouth unlike the adult in my other blog who had a black mouth interior. He also has a tremendous gape, which is the soft tissue on the outer corners of the mouth. The gape helps this bird stretch his mouth open while begging from his parents. The mouth color also takes part in stimulating the parents to “put food here!”

We had a lot of female common yellowthroats today. We’ve had lots of males in the past and I’ve posted pictures. Here you can see how different the female is. There is no black mask, but she still has that stunning yellow throat.


Here is my favorite bird of the day, a juvenile male Downy Woodpecker. These are the smallest woodpeckers you will find around here. It is so neat to see them up close since we hardly ever get woodpeckers in the nets. This one was a near escapee but I had good timing at the net. One of the neat things about woodpeckers is their tailfeathers, which are very stiff. They use their tails as a prop when they are climbing up trees and excavating the bark. Woodpeckers also have a very unique head bobbing motion which is pretty fun to see up close. Fortunately, this guy didn’t peck the skin off my fingers and he was pretty small so I wasn’t intimidated by his head bobbing.

Here you can see the red mottling distinct to the juvenile. An adult male will have a bright red patch on the back of the crown. This guy also had some kind of growth on the back of his bill. We weren’t sure what it was unfortunately, but he appeared otherwise healthy.

Total bird banded: Downy Woodpecker, Gray Catbird (3), Common Yellowthroat (4), American Goldfinch (2), Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow

birdy art: Red-headed Woodpecker

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