Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Only a few days....

Between rain, wind, and cold,  weather has conspired against us! We have only been able to band five days total! Yet those days have been productive, with numbers already close to half of what they were for the ENTIRE season last spring!

To date, we have banded 142 birds of 29 different species! Just to get you all up to speed, these species are (in no particular order):
 Brown creeper, blue-gray gnatcatcher, ruby-crowned kinglet, golden-crowned kinglet, yellow-throated warbler, field sparrow, slate colored junco, American goldfinch, house wren, yellow warbler, myrtle warbler, western palm warbler, carolina chickadee, swamp sparrow, ovenbird, downy woodpecker, song sparrow, hermit thrush, white-throated sparrow, brown-headed cowbird, carolina wren, yellow-bellied sapsucker, northern cardinal, red-winged blackbird, eastern towhee, american robin, brown thrasher, northern flicker and warbling vireo. WHEW!

One of my personal favorites was the yellow-bellied sapsucker. This one is a male, which have red throats as well as crowns. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers migrate through Ohio in spring on their way to their summer breeding range, which extends across Canada all the way to eastern Alaska.One of the nice things about this species is you don't always need to see these birds to know they were there, they leave plenty of signs behind!

Sapsuckers eat.....wait for! They will also eat insects and even fruit, but sap is the main part of their diet. They will drill a series of holes in rows along the tree trunk. In spring these holes are small, round and deep to reach the sap moving up the tree to the branches. As the tree develops leaves and starts to send sap back down along the shallower phloem layer, they drill more shallow, rectangular openings. They use their brush-like tongue to lap the flowing sap, as well as any insects that have become trapped. Pretty ingenious! These sap wells also benefit many other species. Bats, porcupines and other birds have all been observed utilizing these wells. In fact, in some regions of Canada, ruby-throated hummingbirds may even time their migration to coincide with yellow-bellied sapsuckers!

Sapsucker's have been plentiful in Ohio the last few weeks, and will be moving on soon. However, the arrival of new species continues, and the forecast is looking up. The next three days look promising for banding, so please stop by! And while you are here, be sure to take a quick look to see if you can spot a yellow-bellied sapsucker, or perhaps just a sign that they were here.

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