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May 28, 2009 / stephanie

north america’s smallest songbird and largest wren!

What is North America’s smallest songbird? The Bushtit! Well, I suppose it is known as “one of the smallest” according to my Sibley guidebook. They are pretty close in size to Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and… I’m not sure what else rivals the size of this tiny bird besides hummingbirds.

Bushtit

We have gotten 5 bushtits in our nets in the past 10 days. They are just adorable! But kind of a pain to get a hold of since they are so small!

And so, what is North America’s largest wren? It’s the Cactus Wren!

I actually was not expecting to get this bird at all. It was not on our list of breeding birds in the area, but here it is! Most of the wrens in the USA are about 4-5 inches from tail tip to beak but this one is a whopping 8.5 inches long.

Cactus Wren

This giant wren was the last bird we banded today, also marking the last bird of Phase 3. On Sunday we start Phase 4, meaning we start another 10-day period of banding at the 6 different sites.

Northern Cardinal
I thought I would include a nice picture of a male Northern Cardinal. Cardinals are so common, I usually don’t bother to get a picture! But this one was looking pretty handsome and was cooperative with the camera. We are using stainless steel bands with Cardinals since they are notorious and relentless biters. The bands are a lot harder than the typical aluminum bands we use on the rest of the birds. Cardinals are known to bite the aluminum bands right off! But since we have been capturing a lot of Cardinals that were banded in previous years (as the one pictured above) we have evidence that they can’t bite through stainless steel!

Field Sparrow

Ah.. little brown birds! I just love banding sparrows. They are so neat to see up close. It may look like a plain brown bird from far away, but in the hand you get to see all the little identifying features perfectly. Field Sparrows are most easily identified by their little pink bill and legs. They are usually pretty small even though this one looks a little puffed up.. there was a bit of a wind on that day! The other day we also got some more brown birds, Rufous-crowned Sparrows! I didn’t get any pictures of them yet though.. but hopefully I will get some later!

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