Monday, June 1, 2015

Day 1: Eastern Towhee

Bird facts of the day:

  1. Seagulls and other white birds have black trimmed wings because darker pigmented feathers are more hardy against the sun and other harsh environmental factors. The black tips help to prevent against damage.
  2. Baby bird poop is coated in a membrane to allow easy pick up and disposal by the parents.

At 5:30 a.m. I began my summer internship to beat the birds.
I'm working with Mike Bishop, a science professor and ornithologist at Alma College as well as my classmate Krista Botting.
 We began the summer banding at one of the loops in the Alma Ecological Station, affectionately known as "the bog" and located in Vestaberg, Michigan. 
Early in the day, Bishop stopped us to point out a call that sounds like, "drink your tea," and told us that was the call of an Eastern Towhee. 
We saw a lot of wildlife today and caught a nice variety to start out the season well. The loop consists of around 20 mist nets which are made of nylon and five pockets for birds to fly into. 
After we open the nets, in 45 minutes - 1 hour intervals we hike the loop to check them for birds.
If a bird is caught, we untangle it, place it in a pillow case and bring it back to camp to take measurements such as flight feather wear, weight, wing length and sex.
I'm happy to report I am for more deft at bird untangling than in the past. I've banded with Bishop occasionally throughout the past school year and for a week last summer through a program for incoming science students. 

Eastern Flicker, our beautiful and first catch of the summer. 

I pointed this stuff out but Bishop wasn't sure what it was. After some research I've identified it as Conopholis americana also known as squaw root or bear corn. Like the Indian pipe plant it has no chlorophyll and is parasitic rather than photosynthesizing. 

This butterfly was in my hair.

Coral fungus, I may try cooking some

We catch a plethora of cat birds and they are apt to get both wings and even their tongue tangled up in the net.

A wood thrush and I. We caught a good number of them, they're closely related to the robin.

Krista taking red eyed vireo from the net.

Slugs on Bishop's ice bag full of chips. 

Red-eyed vireo. She was vireo pretty. That was a terrible pun.

A glimpse of Bishop's setup for taking bird measurements. 

Krista and one of the nice, plump robins. 

Female American red start. 

Tent worms and their tent of eggs. 

An inch worm on my snotty sleeve. 

Another tent worm. 

This guy was really nice, a hairy woodpecker I pulled form a net. 

We ended the day by banding some baby phoebes- still in the nest. 

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