June has flown by with MAPS periods 5 and 6 concluded and more periods to come! With the migratory study over, we have been busy catching and re-catching local birds in the areas of Spruce Coulee, Old Baldy and Rodeo Grounds. With rain, wind, hail, thunderstorms and even tornados, the park has been eventful and the birds are just as unsettled as the weather! Breeding characteristics are extremely evident, with plumages, brood patches, mating characteristics and cloacal protuberences clear as day on the majority of birds we catch. No signs of juveniles in our nets yet, but we are eager to catch the first of the summer!
One of our most common catches in Rodeo Grounds is the American Redstart; these birds love the deciduous forest that grows in the marshy area. This pair was caught together, perhaps chasing, but both displaying obvious breeding characteristics. Although young males can be very similar in color to the female, this particular female had a very wrinkled brood patch, indicating that we may be catching their young soon enough!
These past two MAPS periods have allowed us quite a bit of practice with woodpeckers; this female Downy was a change from the usual Sapsuckers we have been catching. Without a red patch of feathers atop her nape, she is easily sexed. Aging these woodpeckers can be tricky, with feather tracts enabling us to age past the third year, and with their long tongues, woodpeckers cannot be skulled effectively, as their tongues wrap around their skull!
An uncommon catch for CHIP was the Wilson’s Snipe above! Although these birds can be seen, and their winnowing heard, all over the park, they rarely hit the nets, and this one nearly avoided capture. These shorebirds nest in wet, grassy areas, thus proving Rodeo Grounds to be a great home. These birds use their long bills to probe mud in search of their meal, invertebrates! This individual was thought to be female, as she seemed to be watching a nest around the station, and had a possible brood patch forming.
This bird is uncommon to the park, but believed to breed in the past. Its green plumage made it an interesting sight to see in the net, compared to those of the same Empidonax family!