Friday Birds

A quiet day of banding at Carpenter Friday morning--I keep hoping for a big warbler wave in the nets but the timing has been off when we are banding. Some birders are mentioning that they aren't seeing warblers like they normally do this spring, but I think they are there. We had one heck of a leaf out in early May and most the warblers have been hidden. Much my warbler enjoyment this spring has been by ear.

We did get a ruby-throated hummingbird stuck in the nets. We don't have any equipment for banding hummers so when they are in the nets, someone takes them out and we let them go. This girl needed a few minutes for recovery and we got to get a good look at her feathers.

As Jim was getting her out of the net, we noticed that her throat was tinged a light golden yellow. I wondered if this was a plumage variation--the older the female she gets some coloration on her throat? We looked it up in the Pyle book and on BNA Online but could find not mention of gold throats on males or females. The only explanation we could think of was pollen dusted onto her throat from foraging on flowers. Has anyone else seen anything like this before?

The peony garden at Carpenter was loaded with pollen. The gardens are gorgeous right now in various reds, whites and pinks. If you are a fan of the Hoosier state flower and live near Carpenter Nature Center, I'd stop by this weekend.

I did get a chuckle when I found one of Carpenter's honeybees gathering pollen in the peonies. Who knew I'd be paying attention to bees in flowers? Am I losing my birding edge?

Since the banding was slow, I thought I would take some time to try and digiscope some kingbirds with Larry around the property. While walking, I noticed some monarch eggs. Above is a monarch egg on the bottom side of the milkweed--that's my big ole honkin' thumb next to the egg for size comparison. Ah, it's getting to be monarch ranching time. If you would like to learn more about raising native monarchs indoors for release, I'll be teaching a Monarch Ranchin' workshop at Staring Lake Outdoor Center July 7, 2007. Contact Staring Lake for details.

We did find some kingbirds on our walk. Not the best photo ever, but you get the idea. It was so cute, while I was away at Detroit Lakes last week, I could tell Non Birding Bill missed me--he was noticing birds. He sent me a text message on my phone that he had seen a kingbird in Loring Park on his way to work--I didn't even know he knew what a kingbird was.

On my way back to my car, I found myself being spied on by a thirteen-lined ground squirrel. Sometimes they snarf up the spilled seed under the bird feeders.

Larry had posted on the listservs this week that he'd seen dickcissels in Dakota County already. I usually don't see those guys until June. So I drove over to my favorite spots for dickcissel in Dakota County at the Empire Substation on 210th St. There's a small tree farm, power station and Buddhist temple surrounded by farm fields which is great for sparrows and meadowlarks. I didn't find the dickcissels but I did find chipping sparrows singing on territory (above) and lots of singing clay-colored sparrows.

As I was driving home, a sparrow popped up on a tree on the side of the road--a grasshopper sparrow. I pulled over and set my scope on my window mount tripod--which isn't easy to use for short people, but fortunately for me, the Swarovski eye piece rotates around so I can kind of use it with the window mount--it still takes some contorting on my part.

The grasshopper sparrow was incredibly accommodating. It stayed perched in the open even though it took me a few minutes to get the scope up and on it. Maybe this sparrow is ignored so much, it was happy that someone wanted to digiscope it?

Boy, you can tell this has been a good birding month, not many entries on the antics of Cinnamon. She disapproves of her lack of exposure in the blog. Okay, now Non Birding Bill and I are off to celebrate the Holiday Weekend, enjoy the outdoors, irritate a disapproving bunny, grill up some meat, bake some rhubarb pies, and I have to finish up a couple of deadlines. The rain is supposed to ease up tomorrow and I'll try to get out to the beehives and take some photos--our first batch of new workers should be hatched--whoot.

Hope you guys have a good time and enjoy birds where ever you are.