Sunday, May 27, 2007

Success Before the Heat.

The past three days have been summer-like. Warm dawn temperatures in the mid-60s, clear skies, light to moderate SW winds and daily highs in the mid to upper 80s. Sounds perfect? Well, for the beach and swimming and volleyball, perhaps. But not, necessarily, for birds on an unshaded nest (consider Osprey and beach-nesting shorebirds/terns trying to shade/protect eggs and chicks from the sun while controlling their own body temperature) or migrants caught upside down in a mist net in the direct sun or heat. Banders must be careful to attend all nets frequently (every 20 minutes or so) or to furl them for the day. Thus, the banding day at First Landing has been ending by 1030 or 1130 recently.

Our daily tallies have been modest, 20 new, or less, but there has been an interesting assortment of warblers (Magnolia, COYE, Northern Waterthrush, Blackpoll), a thrasher, a catbird, vireos, wrens,chickadees, a sparrow and WOODPECKERS. Today, Sheila brought in a brilliant, adult Red-headed Woodpecker from net C3-a first of the banding season! The bird's back was a remarkable blue-black. The secondaries were a flawless white with black shafts. And the bill was gun metal blue. And the bird liked Sheila. No surprise there.

Compare the Red-bellied Woodpecker also pictured above. A member of the same genus (Melanerpes) as the Red-headed, the bill and general appearance of the Red-bellied is more coarse or less refined. I admit to a few favorite birds. The Red-headed Woodpecker is one.


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