Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good things come in pairs

With 26 birds caught, today marked the second great off-site banding day in a row! Also, the banders were treated to (a sighting of) an Eastern Phoebe--one of two seen by the Palomarin crew today!

In between net-runs, Xeronimo, Francesca, Dan and I were chatting and watching birds when a flycatcher flew in about 30 feet from us. I looked over and mentioned how that's no Black Phoebe we're looking at. So, I picked up my bins, and to my surprise there was an Eastern Phoebe just hanging out wagging its tail. I grabbed my camera, but I was one second too late. When I went for a photo, the bird was gone. We all went searching, but all we found was this Black Phoebe.
Black Phoebe on a perch near where the Eastern Phoebe flew [Photo by Cory Ritter]
 Time for the next net-run! So, we went back to banding, and we had a total of 26 birds to take our minds off of the EAPH:

Bewick's Wren - 3
Song Sparrow - 4
Hutton's Vireo - 1
Pacific Wren - 2
Hermit Thrush - 2
Fox Sparrow - 5
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 4
Varied Thrush - 2
Western Scrub-Jay - 1

Just yesterday I was talking about how I had yet to get a good look of a Varied Thrush, but today I got a pretty decent look!
A beautiful female Varied Thrush [Photo by Cory Ritter]
Also, we had another run-in with a Western Scrub-Jay, which is always a cool bird to have in-hand!
A friendly after-hatch-year Western Scrub-Jay biting French's finger [Photo by Cory Ritter]
Another interesting bird today was a Bewick's Wren recapture. This bird had retained one secondary on the right wing, but the left wing had all new flight feathers. I will go further into molting strategies, and how certain flight-feather replacement sequences can be used to tell the age of birds in a future post. For now, just take a look at what a retained flight feather looks like.
Bewick's Wren showing one, duller brown, retained secondary among the other darker brown flight feathers. [Photo by Cory Ritter]

Bewick's Wren showing flight feathers of a uniform age. Notice this wing shows no contrastingly colored feathers. [Photo by Cory Ritter]
*phoeBEE - PHOEbee*

What's that? Oh, well that's the Eastern Phoebe that came back about an hour and a half after the first observation. This time it was being much more cooperative!
Eastern Phoebe perched on a power-line [Photo by Cory Ritter]

Eastern Phoebe perched on a power-line [Photo by Cory Ritter]

Eastern Phoebe (on top) scuffling with a Black Phoebe [Photo by Cory Ritter]
The first spotting of the Eastern Phoebe at our off-site banding station was at about 9:50 am PST, and our second sighting at the banding site was at 11:10 am PST.  Meanwhile, around 10:30 am PST, Luke was watching an Eastern Phoebe in outer Point Reyes--at a site over five miles away (straight-line).

So, the Palomarin crew enjoyed two excellent off-site banding days in a row, and two Eastern Phoebes in one day!

By Cory Ritter


  1. TWO EASTERN PHOEBES yesterday! Also, checked the records and there was an eastern phoebe at the same sight, Muddy Hollow, almost exactly one year ago to the day, Dec. 7, 2010.

  2. That Jay definitely tried to leave its mark. It never stopped fighting me. Funny bird. And great photos of that Eastern Pheobe; glad you were able to get proof of our sighting. Good day at Muddy Hollow. :0)