Any day you find yourself working with birds is a good day, and what we learn from the birds we band can really help put life in perspective. Pictured below is the third Blackpoll Warbler we have banded thus far, and it is a particularly notable wood-warbler in that it engages in a mammoth fall migration that can find individuals traversing the open Atlantic on their way to South American wintering grounds. Keep in mind these are songbirds, and are unable to alight on the open ocean for a rest as are waterfowl, so they must travel nonstop on a flight that can be up to 3000 kilometres long. This has been likened to a human running 4-minute miles for 80 hours! The challenges these little songbirds surmount in their annual life-cycle are truly mind-boggling.
Map courtesy of www.borealbirds.org
The aptly named Yellow Warbler is an early fall migrant, with movement to the south typically peaking in early August, so we were pleasantly surprised to find this adult male in our nets on September 3rd.
Another warbler whose name needs no explanation is the Black-throated Blue Warbler. These gems of the eastern forests are on their way to the Bahamas and Greater Antilles for the winter. Pictured here is a young male who hatched-out from an egg this past summer.
We can tell he is a young bird due to the differences in the wing feathers denoted below. Adult birds will show no difference between these feathers since they undergo a more extensive molt than their hatch-year counterparts.
A warbler whose name does require some explanation is the Magnolia Warbler. These birds typically nest in dense coniferous forests, not magnolias, but the first specimen was collected from a magnolia tree and the name has remained. Pictured below is a male in non-breeding or ‘basic’ plumage.
We would be remiss if we did not include a photo of a very common denizen here at the refuge…we have seen quite a number of different individuals, typically out foraging at dawn and dusk. This large individual was spotted toward the south end of the point, and was given a wide berth!