It was absolutely stunning at Carpenter Nature Center this morning. Really, if you have never been there and live in the Twin Cities area, you should go now. The last of the late summer flowers are blooming, the leaves are changing color, and birds are all over the place!
It was such a pleasure to walk in this environment to the nets to get the warblers out. I was running a tad late to Carpenter this morning (thanks to a Rocky Horror Picture Show discussion on fm107) and all along the way, I could see raptors lifting off the bluffs along the Mississippi River and the St. Croix River. Thursday night, we had some bad storms with funnel clouds right at sunset. I wonder if the migrants were forced down and I was watching them leave. I saw several sharp-shinned hawks (one ambitious fellow was trying to pop a blue jay) and even a young peregrine as well as LOTS of harriers. The songbird banding was great at Carpenter.
We had a puzzling Nashville Warbler (above). The bird showed many characteristics of being male, but had NO rufus cap. But was way too yellow on the bottom to be female. So, take heart new birders, even in hand, fall warblers are tough to id. But, do note the warblers toes--Nashville warblers have yellow toes--cute!
The most exciting birds for me were the two above. It was just about time to take the nets down, and I was doing one last round to check for birds in the nets when I found in one of the nets right outside the nature center, two birds within a foot of each other. Recognized one right away. For some reason, chestnut-sided warblers and bay-breasted warblers get cross wired in my head. I know they are two separate species, but in my mind, there's not much difference in color between bay and chestnut.
It was such an honor to hold these birds for a few moments as they start their trek to South America. Who knows, in a few nights these birds could be lurking in a bush in Illinois and then a week later be in St. Louis. Hm, side by side, these two don't look so hard to tell apart.
We also got in an eastern phoebe today. We've been getting in so many least flycatchers and alder flycatchers, that this looked like one beefy bird. If fooled me at first because it was so yellow. But after we banded the bird and let it go, you could hear a weak "fee bee" call. It's still learning the notes.
And, I leave you with one last photo of the chestnut-sided warbler. I have to get to sleep. It's now 10pm and I have to wake up at 4am to go up north for hawk trapping. I don't know what my Internet access will be like this weekend, but when I come home there should be some hot hawk banding photos.