Saturday, September 29, 2012

Iona Island Bird Observation

After dropping Louise & Tom at YVR to fly to Boston George & I went for a walk on Iona Island. We took a known path & an unknown one.
On the unknown path were mist nets for catching birds on the wing.
We saw one trapped.
I wondered how long it would be left there.
[At most 1/2 hour]
Further along the path a girl scout group was walking the other way.
They had heard a talk.

And suddenly in a blackberry clearing there was a table with two people sitting at it.
There were other people hanging around too-- the bird collectors!
At the table they were processing a netted birds.
Naming them, checking the fat on their breast by blowing on their chest feathers.
You can see the yellow fat under the skin!
Their wings were measured in millimeters.
They were sexed.
That was done by looking at their feathers mostly.
Then they were weighed & released.
Meanwhile the second person at the table would be entering all the data into the computer.
Soon they would be going on to Mexico!

Last week they had had many Cedar Waxwings.
Today it was Audubon & Yellow-Rumped Warblers, one Song Sparrow & a Yellow Warbler & an Orange-Crowned Warbler.
There were a few unknowns, maybe as a result of cross-breeding.

The birds wait in bags till they get processed.

Usually they process 100 birds a day, 3 weekend days.
Last weekend they were mobbed with 300 birds a day and they couldn't process them all.
Wind & rain can interfere with that schedule.
The workers run for 6 hours after sun up.

Above is the wing measurement tool.
Below the examining of the brightness of the tail feathers to sex the bird. 

Opening the wing helps to judge the age of the bird. 
We mostly saw first year birds.

The banding pliers were so clever!
You couldn't over tighten the ring & hurt the bird.

Guide book for looking at the skull as another way of telling the bird's age if plumage is vague.

I was making immediate plans to bring Lesley, Max & Reed to see this next weekend [if I'm not in Maui!].

Below is the bird in a tube, head down for weighing. 
You can see the black-with-white-spots tail feathers!
After that's done the orange cap is taken off & they fly off.

What a great discovery!
Going to Costco after that made a strange contrast.

As for the black box below... I have no idea!
That's it for now.

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