Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bulletin 172 - mid April migrants

It has been rather slow in migration this year for the last 2 weeks.

Here is a Prothonotary Warbler. It is one of my favorites with his intense yellow-orange color and blue gray wings.
Prothonotary Warbler
Another warbler this weekend was this male Yellow Warbler. He is all yellow, including the wing bars. The male has the reddish streaks on the breast and the female would lack these streaks.
Yellow Warbler - male
This male Black-throated Green Warbler hung around the drip at LaFitte's Cove. Often, he was so close that I could almost touch him and thus too close for a photo.

Black-throated Green Warbler - male
A Red-eyed Vireo posed on a stick over the drip after his bath. His head feathers are sticking up from the bath, He normally doesn't have a crested appearance. His red iris is visible in this photo.

Red-eyed Vireo
Summer Tanagers are among the most strikingly colored birds. This solid red male had a huge mouthful of mulberries.

Summer Tanager - male
The females in the eastern USA can be orange to greenish color. This one was very orange with scattered red feathers. She was right above me and so close, I could not get her completely in the photo.

Summer Tanager - female
Sibley says in his description of this species, that they can have a slightly crested appearance. Here is the same bird a few frames later sporting her crest.

Summer Tanager - female

The male Scarlet Tanager is beyond comprehension with his red body and head and black wings and tail. I always love to see them in spring and always take a photo.

Scarlet Tanager - male
One confusing spring bird is the first year male Orchard Oriole. This greenish-yellow bird has 2 white wing bars and a black throat. It is very different from both adults and for a long time was thought to be a separate species of oriole!

Orchard Oriole - 1st year male
Lastly, a brown bird, the Swainson's Thrush. He is IDed by the plain brown back and large eye ring. He is a rather dull bird after the tanagers. However, all the thrushes are superd singers and if you ever hear him sing, it is wonderful. Here is a link to a You Tube video of one singing by Naturalist97333.

Swainson's Thrush
Lastly, this normally long slender Gray Catbird, was all hunched down like a dove. His black cap and rusty undertail are well seen in this view.

Gray Catbird
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bulletin 171 - First week of April migrants

Migration is off to a great start in the first week of April.

The best bird was this male Cerulean Warbler. This species is a target in Texas migration. There were several this past week at LaFitte's Cove. He is blue with white underparts and a black chest band.

Cerulean warbler - male
Another good bird was a Worm-eating Warbler. He is IDed by the brown color and striped head.

Worm-eating Warbler
A male Tennessee Warbler put in an appearance. This is a common species in migration. It is green backed, gray headed witrh a prominent white eye stripe. Of interest to me was the yellow face. It doesn't show in the guide books, so he may be a first year bird molting from juvenile plumage?

Tennessee Warbler - male
I said in the previous journal the Yellow-throated Warbler was a nemesis bird for me. Well the jinx has been broken this spring as I have seen 3 of them already. I had only seen 3 in the previous 20 years of birding!

Yellow-throated Warbler
Other birds were my first Summer Tanager. The male is all red with a large yellowish bill.

Summer Tanager - male
A beautiful Chipping Sparrow in breeding plumage with his bright rusty cap, unstreaked breast, and black line through the eye.

Chipping Sparrow - breeding
Elsewhere on Galveston Island I was lucky to get close to a Wilson's Snipe in a roadside puddle. I took the photo out of the car window to prevent spooking the bird.

Wilson's Snipe
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bulletin 170 - early migrants

With the arrival of April, spring migration here is officially underway. However, some early migrants come in March and us hard core birders seek them out.

The Myrtle Warblers are getting yellow crown spots, This was the first time I recall noticing these crown patches.

Myrtle Warbler
Speaking of crown patches, the Orange-crowned Warbler keeps his patch hidden and the only time I have seen it was when one was bathing. I have never seen it otherwise and most birders will tell you it is never seen. Well this bird broke the rule. He kept his orange crown visible as he came to the drip at LaFitte's Cove Galveston last Friday.

Orange-crowned Warbler
Even this Nashville Warbler got in the act and showed the red feathers in his crown patch.

Nashville Warbler
A male Northern Parula came to the drip and posed nicely for a photo.

Northern Parula
A surprise bird was this Audubon's Warbler is almost full breeding plumage. This is the western form of Yellow-rumped Warbler and differs from the Myrtle Warbler above by having the yellow throat.

Audubon's Warbler
A couple of early Black-throated Green Warblers were found as well.

Black-throated Green Warbler
I was very pleased to find one of my nemesis birds, the Yellow-throated Warbler. This is only the third time in my life to see this common bird.

Yellow-throated Warbler
The Black-and-white Warbler is a favorite of mine. They work the trunks and larger limbs of trees in a style like a nuthatch.

Black-and-white Warbler
The Louisiana Waterthrush is the earlier of the waterthrushes to arrive. It is IDed by the long eye stripe going down the back of the neck as well as pink legs and buffy flanks.

Louisiana Waterthrush
An unusual find was a Calliope Hummingbird at LaFitte's Cove the last few weeks. This bird at 3.25" in length is the smallest North American bird. This was a juvenile male. My first photo on March 23, shows a few red throat feathers on the right side.

Calliope Hummingbird - juvenile male
By the next week, he had sprouted almost a full throat of feathers.

Calliope Hummingbird - juvenile male
I am looking forward to many more migrants coming through over the next month. I hope everyone can get out to see some of these birds as they pass through.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

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