Field recording discussion.
Bird identification discussion.
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
- Carmen Valley
- 39.6500042 -120.4881763
- 2060 meters
Decoded MS stereo.
Log of DAT #: 6
Car doors shutting, movement
Sheep, you may have noticed, some of those sheep were wearing bells and as they graze through the area that bell sound will be an obnoxious background to natural sound recording. I don't expect the sheep dogs to be barking continually unless the sheep get straying and hopefully the sheep will not find us. They are curious animals, cows are curious animals and in the understory of the coniferous woods here there are a number of very crunchy cones that seem to make a lot of noise when the cattle or sheep walk through them. At any rate, what we're here for is Gray Flycatcher's pre-dawn song. I don't hear any at the moment. Let's not give up hope yet. They will be calling from this sort of parkland, open, coniferous forest area.
I just hear one, shlick-lee shlick-lee. It's a series of short notes like that given relatively continuously given right before the period where you would say, oh the sun is just about to come up. When that occurs they slow down and go into their more typical measured daytime response. They will be roosting now in these long-needled Jeffrey Pines. Some in shorter pines which may give you an opportunity to get one at practically eye level. And they are quite attached to their roost perch so that you will b able to approach them quite closely. In fact when it got light enough to see three participants discovered that they had converged on one small gray flycatcher in a small Christmas tree sized pine tree from three different directions and they had it surrounded. But they didn't know that, they had each crept in the pitch darkness. Some of them will be calling higher up but unlikely that they will be up on hillside so stay pretty much on this plateau level of terrain. From where we are now in the direction we were headed on the Forest Service Route 1 for another half mile is all good gray flycatcher pre-dawn habitat.
Off to our north, to my right, there's another open meadow area that when the regular dawn chorus starts will probably be a good recording area. The stream that goes through it is kind of on this edge of it and bares around to my right, sort of around a rocky point that was a quarry for improving the forest road hear. And then cuts through a gulch down to the main Carmen Valley meadow that we skirted on the way in at the head of which were the sheep. In that main meadow after dawn you will find clumps willow of distributed along the valley, in which Jim Steele's Banding crew on this morning plans to set-up a series of misnets to capture birds to measure and band to determine just what birds are moving into this habitat and using this habitat this time of year.
The valley is also the sight of an experimental stream improvement project. You noticed the culverts that we went over at the head of the big pipes under the road at the head end of the valley. The idea is that the stream has cut a deep gulch draining that valley dropping the water table. Dramatically changing the growing conditions of the lush meadow to what would probably become sage brush if nothing was done to try to restore it to the meadow condition. What they're in a part way and through the process of carrying out is to redirect the waters coming into the head broadly across the meadow and then create a series of ponds in the meadow, take the excavated material from the ponds and fill the gulch so that overall the water table will be brought back to the original level. You'll see some stakes set up down there to define the areas where these ponds are going to be dug.
We will probably leave the vans right here because of the sheep being down there, and have our breakfast right here. That will probably be better had at 8 o'clock than at eight thirty because of our early start. So I'd suggest that, unless there are any questions, we kind of fan out in more or less in the direction that we were headed up this road and distribute left or right of this road. Listening for the chublick chublick of this flycatcher, waiting for it if it isn't there now. And if we don't have that pre-dawn chorus this morning then just go to whatever you, find song.
What direction is east?
East is behind me, down the length of Carmen Valley as we came up. The Sierra Valley is further east. This is one of the western most feeder forks of the valley. Are there any questions?
Yeah, don't forget to listen for western wood-pee-wees. There normal call is just pee-pee. They'll do a little chillup-pee. Also you might find chipping sparrows calling this time of day.
Excellent note. Thank you Dave. And those chipping sparrows pre-dawn song is frequently given from the ground.
For anybody who didn't catch the beginning of Randy's discussion about . . .(fades) . . the birds are typically calling from the tops of trees. Some of these trees can be quite low, but they may be at the top of some of these larger trees. And they'll sit there for the better part of the morning and they'll be calling steadily, the better part of the pre-dawn hours. There are first birds firing off right there. Follow that sound. Good luck everyone.
sounds of walking, movement
Well, it's the third morning and it's really early, it's about 4:20. And we've headed off quite a ways from our little camp and we're up around Carmen Valley.
Good. Carmen Valley. I was going to ask you where we were.
It must be the fifth of June and we've set off as a group but Bill has gone off with Don Kutzman. We're here off with all the sound recorders and we're here for the pre-dawn chorus and then we're gonna join up with Jim Steele and the bird banding operation for the watershed restoration project. So we'll stop right now.
No, first we want to say: This is an MC recording. this is the center mic. this is the side mic.
They're starting to call. That's good.
sounds of mumbling and moving around, some birds in background but that is mostly blocked out by sounds of people moving around.
ambi - birds
sounds of walking
Sounds of walking
ambi -birds. Past 19:20 is good
It's early morning on day three. We've come out to a valley floor about twenty miles from our campground and we're hear to listen to the gray flycatcher. Greg Butney says they have a special call before dawn, and believe me, it's before dawn. We started recording here at about quarter of 5. This is the bird.
ambi sound -bird (grey flycatcher) good
Everybody hear whispers because they are all sound recordists. There are fifteen of them around us here in this field and they all recording birds. And they're all recording birds, and you have to talk very quietly. Everyone here is quite. You'll notice right away in this group that everyone whispers. They're all sound recordists, they're all very quite. Even later in the day when I talk to Greg Butney, he's quite.
ambi - birds. Shawn talking intermittently about members of the group
Shawn talking about sheep he saw on the way to the site
That' was about 3-5 minutes at the location where Alex did those tracks. Sorry about the rumbling, but you're probably getting used to it by now.
ambi -birds and wind
sounds of walking
sounds of walking. some ambi sound.
tape is stopped. Recording starts again
Well its day three and we've come out to a valley floor about twenty miles from our campground. Quarter of five in the morning, pre-dawn. Greg Butney says that a bird called the flycatcher makes a particular song now. And here it is.
ambi -bird. very low volume
Driving down the road this morning, cars kicking up these great clouds of dust suddenly dozens of sheep from one side of the road came sweeping past us and the disappeared in the clouds of dust, and the disappeared in the clouds of dust billowing in our headlights.
You notice right away about these people they all talk very quietly. They're all sound recordist. Right around me now there are, oh fifteen or so people with tape recorders and if you talk to loud they glare at you. If there's a guru for this group it's a man named Dawn Krutzman who joined us yesterday. He may know more about bird songs than anyone else in the world. He's a professor at Amhurst. And he got there before anyone this morning. He says he likes to go out very early, not so much to listen to the birds but rather for the spiritual experience of just being here when the forest is waking up.
Here's three minutes, the same location as the tracks. The rumble that you hear in the background is not a freeway, it's a river.
ambi - river
It's not quite five thirty and already those birds have stopped singing. The wind came up a few minutes ago, maybe that's it, maybe that makes them stop. But anyway Greg Butney had told us the birds will sing just before dawn and already it's getting light.
some birds sounds in back ground but mainly quite
Since we recorded some ambient sound here and it's quite, that was all the river stuff we had just done, we're used to that. The previous tracks that we recut has better sound behind it when there was more bird song on the pre-dawn.
sounds of walking
tape is stopped. Recording starts again.
ambi -sheep bleeting, sheep bells, dog barking
sound of car door closing
ambi -sheep bleeting, sheep bells, dog barking
That's was sheep, yeah.
Sounds of walking, door closing, car starting, small conversations in the background
Tape is stooped. Recording starts again.
Sound of walking
No a v l s. Slate bird banding. 47 minutes.
Conversation in the background, movement.
Well, we're hearing warbling virios, this high-pitched quizzical song. A couple, quite a few. There's McGillery's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Fox Berrow. There could be Gold Finch out here, Western Meadow Lark, uh Green Tailed Toey. There could be wood peckers around the edge of the forest; There could be White-Headed Woodpecker. We often had Black-Backed Woodpecker here. Further up slope you might here the drumming of Pialated Woodpecker that'll come down into the valley very nicely. There are Western Blue Bird and Mountain Blue Bird here, white breasted nut hatch, red breasted nut hatch, bruder sparrow further down where you have more sage brudesh, and Vesper Sparrow. I know the other day they had black billed magpies which they never catch in the nets, but they black billed magpies. We don't usually hear too much of them out here. Uh, dusky flycatcher, which looks a lot like the gray flycatcher, which is purporting.
What time will you, will people be heading back?
Yeah, if we want to go do interviews over there.
We will be convening at 8:30 for breakfast and then probably ten o'clock.
He said eight.
He said 8? (laughing) Well none of my group knows that. We started before the thing. Alright so 8 o'clock. And then we will probably head back around ten. We could head back sooner. Maybe as early as 9 or 9:30 if the wind keeps up. So if this wind is steady, especially if it gets progressively stronger, that'll curtail the reporting.
If we went back to the meadow where we were the first day,
You mean the marsh, the Sierra Valley?
Yeah, if we went back there would all those birds still be around at 10:30, 11 o'clock? I want to get some pictures of some of them sitting on top of the fence post, which we didn't take the other day. And there's just so close and there's just startlingly beautiful birds.
The marring will be there, the yellow bird will be there.
sounds of walking, dogs barking
Out there in the middle of the field, catching up to the scientists some more as they're setting up there.
I didn't even see the one that was under the log and thought that this one had been pulled out. Which made more sense to me. I was banding it in because it is tough.
Well that's why I want to keep them in before its gets and drier. Some years you don't have any trouble (sound of banging, like a rock banging a stick) but this year with it being this dry.
When does the show go on?
Probably sometime mi-July, mid-June.
That was setting up one of the nets.
Sounds of walking and movement. Bird catching net is being set-up.
These are orange crown warblers. They've bred down in the foothills. They've finished breeding by May and they've just come. This is a new hatch bird. The ones that breed here are, they're just sitting on eggs now. This is a recaptured yellow warbler from last year. They breed here so they're just sitting on eggs right now.
ambi -high pitch screeching of bird
We've been here for ten years. We've got a couple of yellow warblers that we've caught for nine years.
sound of walking
That was the third night when we got there were three small birds. We recorded the first two. Jim captured them and put each one into a small cloth bag. This is net 4.
If you'd like to, can you explain what you're doing as you do it. If that gets in the way of your work . . .
We were here once in 92, 93, when it was real wet and the cacophony of sound, ya know you couldn't pick out the individuals. And if you can get the soundscape now, it's very quite and our numbers are down to about one third of the captures which corroborates the sound when you do your point counts.
She's on your side.
Oh I thought there were two
Oh he got out. He just hit it and . . .
Wow, watch that. God, oh, a little birdie!
Just grab onto my thumb there little lady.
She's got McGillery's Warbler. When we started here at the end of the draught there were hardly and McGileries here, and then as it, as the rains came back they cam back and now they're on the decline again as the hydrology gets screwed up and thw alters disappear. This is a dusky flycatcher which we find out her often. What we're hoping when we bring the water back is the endangered Willow Flycatcher will come back. And they come here but it's too dry now so they leave. Say something for the microphone (talking to a bird).
I'm sorry, which one was that ?
That's a Dusky Flycatcher and she has a McGillery's Warbler. I don't know if you can put up that Western Tanninger in the trees just above us.
Is this a female because it doesn't have the black.
Yeah. We had two real wet years and the McGilleries would stay here, you could see them stay until October and finish their molt and after that take off. And now they're probably gone by mid-August cause there is just not enough food here.
We just number these guys because there are ten nets and sometimes we forget which one they're coming from.
So I meant to ask, you have ten nets out here?
Sometimes the first two runs are the most productive, as he likes to say, because the birds are just getting up. And then it just slows down for the rest of the day.
How long will you stay out here?
We stay till a total of six hours. With the time we set up the nets so we'll probably be her until eleven thirty.
We try to do a run every twenty minutes because you don't wan the birds sitting in the nets too long because it can get to hot or too cold or get a hungry weasel. So we do this like ___ was telling you for six hours, so we bring them back and process them and you can see over there they've been out for a second run. The birds in the bag, they're, it's like putting a hood over a canary cage. They'll calm down, they realize they could probably be in there for an hour and a half and you have them in the shade and now stress cause they can't see anything coming at them.
It depends on the species. Some will just sit there and let you do whatever you want. Others are clawing, pecking and drawing blood. You get these red-breasted sap suckers who'll just hammer away at you. And some of these gross beaks will hurt your fingers like heck.
What'll you do here? This is where you're gonna band them?
This is where we're gonna band. Each bird has different sized bands so each site we list all the band, all the recaptures, and we try to age them and sex them, look at their conditions in terms of fat or molt.
Before this was drying out we were getting 70 to 90 birds a day. Now we'd be at about thirty.
My eyes are going so I need help on these bands. Ok, the number is 211049678.
Wywar, out of net 6.
Time was about 5:40.
I can tell by plumage that this is an adult male, but we check for breeding condition. You can see that bulbous protrusion. When the males are in breeding condition their cloicas(?) swells up. If it's a female she'll drop breast feathers and there'll fluid in the and when she's sitting on an egg. It'll dry up when they're through so we can get an approximate time of when they're breeding. If you've ever seen a duck's nest you'll see the females pull the feathers. Here they just drop them so it gives us a good timing. (blowing sounds) I'm blowing all over it. See if you can see if there's any molt. We call the fulcrum this part right here where the wishbone is where they first deposit fat so if you see any fat you should look after that.
And the other thing is we're trying to age them and one thing we can tell on many of these birds if they are two years old or older is if they are if they are hatching here. And many of these birds, if they molt as a juvenile they leave some of the juvenile feathers. And so the next year you have a contrast between adult feathers and juvenile feathers so you can tell that bird came from the year before and that tells us how much recruitment comes into this. It also gives you a sense of habitat quality. There was a bird that was down there singing, a black headed gross beak, it seems the second year birds tend to be in the lesser valuable territories and move in later. So we have one sight is almost 95% is all second year birds. And whenever you catch them the next year they just move out. And we are hoping to get some ideas of movement and how you can rate habitat as how valuable it is for different birds.
This bird is, we see these feathers have nice edgings. It's not very well worn so we can tell that this bird is at least three years old, and my guess for that number is probably about five years old.
reading of measurement of birds
One thing we do to corroborate when birds are first hatched they have one layer of skull and as they get older a second layer comes in that's reinforced with little struts. You can see that developing in the skull. So one way to make sure that you don't have a young bird that was born that year is you skull them. And sometimes after the molt you can't tell the difference by the plumage. The only way to tell is by looking at the skull. So we do that. (begins listing measurements again).
The pid neck flycatchers, there is a paper by a guy out of Berkeley maybe 25, 30 years ago, and he was telling banders that it's so difficult telling them apart. That you should just bring them to the lab and dissect them, basically sacrifice them (some laughing) and so we've come a long ways from there. You can pretty much hold them up in your hand and 99%, we could just look at the length of the tail and in relation to the wings and the size of the beak and tell what species it is.
That distance right there, from the tip of the wing. Well, no, the difference between the tale length and the wing length.
The wing length on this is 63
Did you want a photograph of that?
No, we've got a bunch of these. I want to see if we can get some of the second years, but I'll look at her. We see in some species the males tend to have longer wings and the women shorter, so sometimes if its unknown that helps you and sometimes on species like this the wing corroborates the species identification.
talk of measurements of birds
In the bird worlds the sparrows are very well hung, the warblers that you saw are kind of intermediate, and the flycatchers are very embarrassed. They have little cloical protrusion. Our first year we had all females and all unkowns. We didn't say one male because we just couldn't see it, or we didn't feel comfortable because we were biased by how big the sparrows were. Now we are getting a little better but it's easy too tell the females because their brude patches are, uh
Now this is a baby bird. This is the orange crown that came up, they're probably in the foothills where the blue oaks are, maybe three thousand feet below. They start breeding in early April. In California and it's a dry summer so all the food productivity dries up and so by mid-June there's really no food down there. If you went there in April it's alive with sounds and you come back in July and there's a few bird s that are more adapted to feed in different niches, but a lot of them take off to different places.
These come up to the high country. When this was wet the adults would come up and molt and put on fat and we could catch them from mid-June to September. Now as the hydrology is crewed up it's dried out. They'll come up and maybe stay till mid-June. Then they're just forced to move around and you probably have higher mortality rates when that happens. One way you can tell a juvenile is they don't have any feathers on their breasts. And this particular guy, these adults will just a clear edge on the ___________, so right away we know. It's called an orange crown but the babies don't have any orange, so you wouldn't know that either.
And for final corroboration we look at the skull and we'd see that it has what we call an amatitization, where the skulls are starting to fill in with the second layer and the struts. So it'll either have a kind of a pink clear skull or it might just have the beginnings of that amatitization. Each bird depending on their size gets different bands.
talk of measurements of birds
I showed you a brude patch. We can tell by her plumage if she is female, McGilleries, because there's not as much black, there's no black here in the ___ between the eyes and the bill. And just to corroborate that we'll blow on her breast. And you see that's all bare but it's not just bare, there is fluid in there to help the heat transfer
talk of bird measurements
If you hear us going mgwa or weewa, you that there are codes for these. We're not babbling.
pretentious bird babble
This, I think, is a second year bird. She was probably born around here last year. And she's pretty light grey but if we look at her, you see these primary coverts are really narrow and there's hardly any green on them. In the adults, when they are over second year their green comes over and gently fades into the vein. In here it's just on the edge and they're real narrow. The other things is they leave their tertials, and you can see their tertials look kind of thin and chewed. Not very strong. And then the tails feathers look pretty narrow and worn. Even a couple of them are broken off. So everything seems to go together in this so we're gonna give this, this is a new recruit into the population. The last time you could see the skull it was pink, and without your magnifiers you probably can't tell this, but it's sort of an opaque, beige color.
talk of measurements of birds
Alright before we start just say who you are and what you do here.
1:28:00 Mack (conversation with Jim -which follows this -is much more informative and better stated than the conversation with Mack)
My name is Mack McCormick and I'm with Jim Steele's Sierra Nevada Field Campus bird banding team. Liz is working on a bird here that is very difficult to identitfy for most people. It's part of the ipidinac's flycatcher group and we get several up here so doing the bird identification before we even band it becomes a bit of a problem up here. I'll show you on the book here. You can see she has to take several measurement to make sure that we have identify it correctly. I believe this bird proved to be a ____. Liz is new to our banding team so it's difficult, unfair to ask her that kind of a question.
No she was right on it. It's her second one.
Oh, did she say dusky.
I said dusky for both of them.
So she's identified it, so the next step is, what she's doing now is measuring the tail because there is a ratio between the wing and the tail that you can use to help you identify these birds. So what she's done is she's measured the wing of the bird and then she just took tail measurement, she'll do a little subtraction and this'll justify your call for this being a dusky. We have a field guide in front of us here, and you can see that there's a lot of birds that look really similar. They're called the pidnacks.
They don't look similar; They look identical.
(laughing) Well, that's one of the problem we deal with here, although we're pretty good at it now and we can pick them out pretty well so it's not much of a problem. Some you can eliminate, they're only back east, and especially a rare on that didn't look quite right to us. By checking measurement we might be able to tell we got a rare one . We always look forward to the but it doesn't happen very often. Birds seem to know their way around. What she's doing now is we have a little balance or a scale that she is going to place the head of the bird and the wings into a little film container. Once the bird is in the container it normally stays kind of calm, but not always.
And then she's placing iron and then she'll take a reading on the bird and it'll just sit there like that with its tail in the air and then she can release it and off it goes. The process that she did, and maybe I'll just work through this bird here. . . . So we have two main virios that we get here. A warbling virio and a casin virio. This one has what they call spectacles on it. I know you can't see that but it has nice circles around the eye like it has glasses on. And it's called the casin virio. Now my process, the first thing they do is identify the bird, which I just did. And my next step is to place a band on it, form a different sized band depending on the bird. This is a 1c, 1c sized band which I'll pull out though a little film container. There are a series of numbers on the band of course, that we can use to identify it should we catch it again. A special pair of pliers that have a prong that allow me to open the band. And then I have a little scooped out area in the front of the piers, if you want to call it that, and I take the right leg. Hold it firmly in my finger, slide the band over. And because the leg is laterally flattened, you put it in that way then you rotate it around, and then you just squeeze. The nice thing about it is that the pliers can only goes so far so you really can't squeeze it, unless you got really off balance.
And my next step is to read the band number off to my reliable recorder, Susan. 17717786. And you got the abbreviation. Th abbreviation we use, you take the first two letters of the first name and the first to letters of the second name, since this is a cassins virio it'd be a cavi. This is net 7. Luckily it's not television. Now my next step then is to go through a series of measurements to identify the age of the bird, the sex of the bird, and such particular things. And starting here I'm going to look to see if it has a cloical protrubance. That's the male, when he's is breeding plumage swells up, almost like a light bulb really. The female will drop feathers on her breast, put some fluid underneath the skin, because that transfers the heat better to the eggs when she's brooding. What I do is take the leg firmly here so they can't move around, pull the legs forward and blow (blowing sounds). And this bird is not breeding now. It looks like its bare now, but when you see a brude patch you'll see it's very very wide. There shouldn't be an pin feathers.
Feathers don't come in all over the body. They come in tracks. And that track, though it may look like it's a bare spot there that's not really a brude patch. That's very tight, very dark red, and there are some pinfeathers stuck in here and there. But when you see the real brude patch it'll be like a blister almost, with fluid underneath it. So this bird is not breeding so when I tell her the number 0, means no CP, no swelling, it does have one but no swelling, and no brude patch.
The net step I go through here, as you'll see, will be fat. When the head begins to b go like this and the eyes begin to close we get very very nervous and we don't take any chances with the birds so if the birds start to look like they might be losing it a little bit we just let them go rather than follow the process through. So, I only gave a little bit of data there, I didn't get very through, but when I see that happen, we do that. We're very proud of the fact we don't lose birds here in the station, so Jim is very strong about that. If you see the bird's eyes begin to close and they start to go, sometimes you put them back in the bag and let them warm up and then release them. It usually happens early in the morning like this. That's why I didn't want to take a chance with that bird. Now this is the other viriol we have, the casons virol a minute ago, this is the warbling viriol. It's right here.
Ok Mack, before you go onto that, did you have any more information just from looking at the bird?
So, how are you sure that that is the warbling berrial?
Well, from this page you can see that none of these other birds even exist in this area.
If you look for a while though you able to, you'll see. Each bird has its own particular field mark. The red eye barriel probably has a red eye so there are things that you can look for. So we will notice a bird that doesn't look quite right to us, having done this for so long. You'll say Oh look at this, ya know, this might be a so and so. That's what makes this enjoyable; That's what makes this fun, when you have the unusual bird popping in there sometimes. Ok, do we have any more?
If you could just identify this book.
Well this is, uh, National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America.
There is also the Sibly book. Are you familiar with the new David Sibly book? That's considered the new Cadillac of field manuals. It's a little too big to bring in the field though, however. Well, let's just try to take another and work with her. See she banded it.
stating of measurements of birds.
One of the birds being held starts squawking loudly (1:37:07, 1:37:11, 1:37:20, 1:37:31)
We've had as many as five hundred birds that we handled one morning up in one of our field stations. It was just a mad house I can imagine, so this is very slow here today.
You're pretty busy though, I mean you're not
Well, yeah, I'll be leaving as soon as they get this done because Jim will be packing. So we keep moving, yeah. I could be a lot thinner than I am as a result of that but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work that way. Now I can show you a cp if you want to look at at cloical protrubance on t his male. He's still a macho man here; He's probably still breeding and holding a territory. I start to do this when the bird's looking a little funky I let it go, but here, up at where the base of the throat would be on a bird, it's where the wishbone is basically, and the bird, when it's ready to migrate, will start putting fat on there and you'll see a little swelling of yellow coming out at the base of the throat area and under the wings and everything else. Now, we won't expect that now because this guy is breeding so he's probably doing a lot of running around and chasing ladies and one thing or another. There' that opening up there, that v up. And there's nothing in there. I wouldn't expect there to be.
Now I'm looking to see if the bird is molting. They're two molts that we look for: the body molt, feathers on the body itself. We would look to see if they are any feathers coming in and it's dropping its body feathers. We would not expect it this time of year and I don't see anything. And normally the first thing we always do is put the number down in case a bird escapes or something that we have a number for. Do you need the whole thing or . .
Just the last three
It's an awa. That's Audubon Warbler. It's kind of like baby talk. You're doing national nawas and awas and geckies and things like that. And that's ten. So I had a 3 cp. That means that's the biggest swallow you could have, so he's a full-breeding male. No brude of course. No body fat, no body molt. And then I look also for flight feather molt to see if the bird is dropping any flight feathers, which you wouldn't expect either this time of year. And you would see feathers and shafts, sheaths I should say, that would be coming up with feathers. Birds molt in a sequence, so if they dropped them all at once they'd have to run around on the ground. So they do a sequential molt. And the way they're numbered in this particular species, if I count back 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, these are the primary feathers here. This is number one that's number nine, because when they start to molt they'll molt this one first and they'll work their way out to the ninth one. The secondary they're different. They molt 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 this direction, so this is number one secondary. Bu there is no molt going on here.
How many days will it take to exchange all those feather for new ones.
Well that's a good question. I don't know. I would say pretty quick though, maybe a couple of weeks. I really talk off the top of my head here. I'm not really all that positive. We put about August which they're pretty much going through the molt, which we don't band. So yeah, it's a good question. I really don't know how much time that would take. Jim would have more information because he's doing that orange crown warbler project up there to determine like we feel that these meadows are molting grounds for some of these birds.
So the next thing I do is. Yeah no molt at all. Now we take a wing cord which we place the wing on here. And this one comes out to be 70, 77. The age of the bird, we skull it. This is the most difficult thing to do. Have you seen this process yet? Did she already go for a run? Debra, did you have a house room out in that tent?
net 1. The house room was net one
The skulling, you want to do the skulling part? They usually come out with a single layer of bone when the bird first produces a skull. And then it eventually forms two layers wit little pillars in between like columns. So when you look down on top of the skull, if you can get to the skin and spread the feathers out, you can see stipling. Now it doe so in a pattern. Young birds won't have any stipling or they'll have just that little v in the back and as they get older and mature the stipling, ya know, as the skull grows it forms all the way across the skull. So when we age the bird, this seems awkward but we've got to wet the feathers just a bit, and then you take it, balance it, and spread the skin out.
Now you're not going to be able to see this unless you had dome of the magnifiers on, but I get an opening in the skull right here. And I move the skin back and forth and I look for this white stipling. This is a difficult bird to see it on because the skin tends to be a little bit darker and Jim will show you later on a bird that's probably a little better, but this one here is what we call six scalbing(?), it's really oscified. I don't know if you can see that, how it looks or not. But you have to have, these are Dean Addel's(?) most powerful ones and you cant see a bloody thing with them normaly, but you can see skulls. So this is a six skull line ok?
Ok, six skull. Wing wear?
Oh, we also see what kind of wear the wing has. Notice, maybe you can make out the eding her, see how that little, what's happens is that's part of the wing when it's closed it's exposed and the sun blanches it. But we also look for nicks and little scrapes and chips like that and it tell us how long the birds have retained this plumage. It helps us identify young birds from older birds and from second year birds and I'm sure Jim will get into that, which is a little more complicated on that one there. This is called fade line by the way -it's faded out.
Now this bird is an adult bird, adult plumage so it's really not necessary to do too much of this stuff. And then we have the weight and then we're done?
Uh, weight and aging. Wait, what was the wing wear?
Wing wear was a 3, but I don't see any molt in here, particularly. So, molt __ helps us determine is whether the bird is a second year bird. Every bird gets a birthday around January 1, and then they all become kind of like horses, ya know, and so sometimes we are trying to determine if it is a second year bird or an after second year bird. And this particular case all the primary covelets(?) are in pretty good shape and there isn't any, what we call molt lim(?). So, um, I'm gonna cal this a six. (more stating of measurements of birds). Now to let it go I'm gonna pass you the bird in what we call the banding bullet. So what you do is you put your fingers like this and gently put them around the side of the neck, bring your tips just a little bit together, and then put your palms down just a little bit underneath it, and then aim it the direction you hopefully want it to fly and then let it go.
flutter of bird wings
Here's a nice one -what we were showing you earlier about the skull -Carolyn, that Jim is skulling it right now. This has got a much bigger opening than on the Audubon Warbler. You can se how we look through the skin into the skull area. We're not looking for the white now, everybody thinks we're looking for the white of the skull, but all birds have the white, he's looking for those columns I was telling you about.
Can you show pictures on radio?
Well, (laughing) (coughing)
This Peter Pyle is the Bible of bird banders. And remember I mentioned that the young birds will have that little stipling in the back, and it progresses depending on the, there are two different ways of doing it, but eventually the stipling comes all the way through until it looks like that. And that's what she was looking for in that house right there.
I can't get through this one. It's a little bit cloudy.
Every once in a while we get a bird that we can't, and we just say, either the skin gets to thick or something or another. But this helps us age the bird. It's a sure way of knowing whether the bird was born this year.
You may have seen Peter Pyle on the National Geographic. Have you ever seen that one about the White Socks off the Faralon Islands and they have the surf board with the camera on it. Well, it's a National Geographic one. Peter Pyle is on that film. He works on the Faralons a lot.
I can't see any stippling.
It might be young one.
Well that's what I think. Let's see, uh, it's molting some feathers here.
So this may be
sound of lowing on bird's feathers.
That is feather wear. These guys are wearing. It's sort of milky skin so it's hard to see the stippling. You have to use a few things, so it was either a zero skull or a six skull (laughing). I couldn't see any demarcations, but we have a three brude batch. It's a dried up brude patch. Zero CP, no fat.
I haven't seen any body molt. NO juvenile plumage but there is a little bit of flight feather molt and at this point it looks adventitious. It is in the rectreces(?). Adventitious molt means that there is a regular molt cycle and then there are times when the birds have lost feathers, never because of a bird bander, but because of the bushes or a hawk or whatever else. So you can se here usually they have twelve and he's a new bird so you know that we didn't do it before. Just so you get that part, ok. (laughing) And when you look for molt (sound of blowing on bird) there's a sheathing that goes around that feathers when I start to push it in, so that's when we're blowing on the birds. You don't see any sheathing down there but there's a couple (technical difficulties).
stating bird measurements (weight, age, etc)
Earlier we had a juvenile. This is a female orange crown warbler. And as they get older sometimes they get a touch of orange. The male's will have a full orange cap but otherwise you can't , you often don't se the orange -It just looked like a scruffy yellowish bird. These breed down at the 3 thousand foot level. We're at 5 thousand here. And they breed in the Blue Oaks and it dries out so quickly that they fly up here. In years when this is wet they've stayed here and molted till September. When it dries often they're gone by July. So the female came up, we had a juvenile that's a female through breeding. They're done mid-May, breeding, usually. You can see that those are bare breasts. When they're actively brooding eggs it's real puffy. In here it's sort of dried up now. I showed him earlier, juveniles we can recognize right away. They'll have this puffy edge and then when they're adults they lose that. And if there's any orange that means they're in adult plumage.
Do you have a band on that or is that a re-count.
more stating measurements of birds
I've been trying to get a paper published. The first time I didn't do real well. But the birds would stay here and molt and they leave their breeding ground. And there's been a few species where they've seen that they leave and they'll go to the Southwest where the rains are coming in the Summer and they'll molt there. These birds will have to move around to three different habitats. Part of the problem with bird conservation is if the birds go down was it something that happened in the breeding grounds, so then we have this partner in fight which funds a lot of this project. So then you're looking at the wintering grounds to see what problems are there. But there is also this third place where a lot of birds go to when they molt.
I just had a paper on the Warbling Varios, and sound wise that's one of the most abundant birds in the area. We hardly ever catch a juvenile bird. What it is is that as soon as the juvenile's fledge then they take off and they found a place where they all go down and molt in Mexico. They did findings of the Painted Bunting, for the Bulox Oriole, in and a couple of other species, the Laslie Bunting, if they look at museum specimens they'll find places where they breed and they don't find molting, and then they find places where they molt and then they find places where they winter. So, really in a lot of these species there's three habitats. This one is only molting maybe fifty miles away from where it's breeding cause it can go up elevation and get these more moist conditions so I think people overlooked it. Thought some of the literature used to say that they molt in the breeding grounds, which it just doesn't happen. They come to a separate habitat. So we've went down and misnetted on Gary Steiner's property where there was marsh grounds and we've found them breeding and then they'd leave. And when they leave there then we find them here so it's uh. But molting ground was something that was only applicable to ducks. So people say that just because they're molting doesn't mean you can call it a molting ground, so I have to re-word the paper.
What we expect now is when this rewaters is that these birds will come and stay through September and put on fat like we were seeing in the wet years. In the dry years there is just not enough food so they move someplace else. And what I suspect throughout the west is, a lot of these meadows like this, - I'll show you later how the hydrology is messed up -a lot of these animals are forced to move. And I know with mammal studies that the more they have to move looking for food-they don't have sort of an established area - the higher the fatalities. I think a lot of these, when people pick up all this movement going on it's probably an article of disturbed habitat. And that's what we hope, when we fix this we can see a change in behavior. Actually I think this guy is one that will give us a good indication of that. Do you want to let him go?