Spring Migration Monitoring kicks off at Cypress Hills

The first week of Spring Migration Monitoring at Cypress Hills for the fourth consecutive year was underway as of May 15. The station has yet to leaf out due to the cool temperatures of the adjacent lake but local breeders are returning.  Although migrants seem somewhat delayed in the area, a good push of “Myrtle” Warblers was already in evidence this week.  A special treat was this stunning “Audubon’s” Warbler, the local breeding form of Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Cypress Hills.

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“Audubon’s” Warbler (Yellow-rumped Warbler) (photo: Yousif Attia)

An unexpected capture was this male White-winged Crossbill. Although both species of crossbills are year-round residents in the park, the White-winged Crossbill seems to be more consistently captured while the Red Crossbill tends to be cyclical; 2012 was an irruption year. Despite being closely related, the demeanor of crossbills in the hand is very different. White-winged are very docile and calm while Red are feisty to say the least, often drawing blood from an unsuspecting bander.

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White-winged Crossbill (photo: Yousif Attia)

The majority of species this week are temperate migrants, those that spend the winter north of Mexico. These Clay-colored and Lincoln’s sparrows were among many captured this week.

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Clay-colored Sparrow (photo: Yousif Attia)

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Lincoln’s Sparrow (photo: Yousif Attia)

Some of the earliest Neotropical Migrants, those that winter in the tropics have also begun to trickle through. The Blackpoll Warbler is a champion among migrants, wintering as far south as Argentina and breeding well into Alaska! This guy was carrying a lot of fat to fuel his migration but still weighed less than 10 grams…

Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler (photo: Yousif Attia)

A sight for sore eyes after the long winter was this Yellow Warbler.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler (photo: Yousif Attia)

This pair of “Myrtle” Warblers nicely displays the sexual dimorphism often found in this family of birds.

"Myrtle" Warblers (Yellow-rumped Warblers)

“Myrtle” Warblers (Yellow-rumped Warblers) (photo: Yousif Attia)

Another nice highlight this week was this SY (second year) male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  Notice the strongly contrasting alula and primaries versus the fresh alternate greater coverts on the wing. Don’t be fooled by cuteness…. they pack a powerful bite!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (photo: Cyndi Smith)

Non-passerines on the Elkwater Lake this week included the resident White-winged Scoters and Red-necked Grebes as well as a number of migrant waterfowl on their way north.

A view of Elkwater Lake east along the banding station

A view of Elkwater Lake east along the banding station (photo: Yousif Attia)

Lastly, a quiz bird…. What species is patiently waiting to be extracted, banded, processed and released?

Spring Quiz Bird #1 - the first person to answer in the comments section wins a "thumbs up"

Spring Quiz Bird #1 – the first person to answer in the comments section wins a “thumbs up” (photo: Yousif Attia)

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