Oh, we are getting into dangerous territory. The last few days have been sincerely spring-like in Minnesota: forty degree temps, sun, melted snow and lots of returning birds like the killdeer in the above. What typically happens here is that we will have a few days of this and out of the blue will come either a fourteen degree day or eight inches of snow which leads to extreme crankiness among the citizens.
I headed out to Carpenter Nature Center on Friday for a little extra banding practice. I'm finally starting to feel a bit more comfortable handling small birds. I reported on Wednesday that we saw a song sparrow around the traps but didn't get one in, well on Friday we got two in the traps (that's one in the above photo). Check out that massive central breast spot. I've been so used to juncos and chickadees, that this bird felt quite beefy and robust in my hand. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when it's my turn to do a larger bird like a blue jay or hairy woodpecker. I have small hands and am now used to tiny birds. I've done large birds like sharp-shinned hawks before, but you can't hold a blue jay the same way you hold a raptor. Oh well, that's what training is all about.
Since it was so nice and sunny, many of use walked outside. We could hear distant sandhill cranes overhead, a couple of meadowlarks and lots of eastern bluebirds (above). I followed a pair around the small prairie trying to get photos. The male was excited to show the female any nest cavity he could find. He showed her a bluebird house and then guided her over to an old snag with a few woodpecker holes. He perched atop the snag, excitedly singing as she tried to fit through the hole...alas, she was too large to slip inside--talk a dating disaster: "Honey, I've found a great place to raise a couple of kids! Oh wait, you're too big to fit inside? Awkward!"
I'm sure any man who has purchased the wrong sized clothing for their lady friend can relate.
The bluebirds were singing like crazy trying to decide on territory boundaries. A fight between at least three pairs broke out at one point and then a fourth female flew in for a total of seven bluebirds. They have such a pretty and subtle song, that it's hard to take it seriously when they fight.
I've been anxious to try out my Remembird on some bird songs. I got it in January and have loved it for its audio note taking ability but it also has a microphone for picking out bird songs. Even though the bluebird was some distance away, I was able to pick up his song with the Remembird You can hear it below. It's not professional but wow, did it do the trick. It's not loud, but to be able to record an unknown bird song that I can take home and compare with my iPod--this is fantastic. I can tell, that I'm going to be lovin' my Remembird during warbler season, this is a really cool tool for note taking in the field.