More Birds, Close-Up

November 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm 2 comments

female-cardinal

The bird-banding sessions that grad student Emily Thomas ’07a, ’09 had been running since the end of August officially ended a month ago, but earlier this week she sent around an e-mail saying that since the weather has been so nice, she’d be setting up the bird nets one more time this morning. The idea was to give interested undergrads in the wildlife and fisheries science major some more experience in capturing, banding, and collecting data on birds—and also to see what species might turn up at this late stage of the migration season.

So I went over with my camera to the banding location at the Arboretum at about 7 this morning and hung out for a couple of hours. It was very cold for the first hour or so: One of the students had a cell phone with a thermometer on it, and it read 20.7 degrees at one point. The birds—being smarter than humans, apparently—stayed hunkered down in the woods (or wherever they spend the night) until the sun got a little higher in the sky and warmed things up.

I think it was 8:15, or maybe even 8:45, before the first bird—a female cardinal—stumbled into the one of the nets. She’s the one in the photo above.

A little later our patience got rewarded again when a male cardinal turned up in one of the nets:

male_Northern_cardinal

And shortly after that we had three juncos turn up; here’s a shot of just one of them:

junco

And then around 9:45, I think it was, we got a white-throated sparrow:

white-throated-sparrow

I learned a new vocabulary word this morning, by the way. See that yellow splash above the sparrow’s eye? That part of its face is called the lore—the area between the eye and the beak. The yellow lores are an important field mark in identifying this bird as a white-throated sparrow. (Of course, the white throat is also a giveaway….)

By then it was getting a good bit warmer—probably around 40 degrees—and the next couple of “net checks” were likely to turn up a lot more birds. But I figured it was about time I headed into the office. So I’m looking forward to getting the e-mail report from Emily in which she announces how many birds were banded this morning—and I find out what good species showed up after I left.

You can see an album of photos from this morning and two previous bird-banding sessions at our Facebook page.

Tina Hay, editor

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Birds Up-Close « The Penn Stater Magazine  |  September 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    […] I went to a couple of those banding sessions in the fall of 2010 and loved the opportunity to watch the banding process and to photograph birds up-close. I wrote about the experience here and here. […]

  • […] about bird banding at the Arboretum, you might take a look at my previous stories and photos here, here, and here. The fall sessions continue through the Oct. 25; you can download a PDF of the […]

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