We banded 28 new birds and had 12 recaptures of 12 different species. We banded another Clay-colored Sparrow (the 3rd of the season)! The Clay-colored Sparrow is a bird of the Great Plains and is not typically associated with the Atlantic Coast. To see their distribution based on ebird submissions, check out this link from ebird. However, Clay-colored Sparrows are nearly an annual occurrence on Kiawah Island and a few of them are seen along the coast of South Carolina each fall. This year appears to be a banner year for them as they have been widely reported all along the coast of the Carolinas this fall.
|Clay-colored Sparrow (hatch-year, sex unknown)|
Although the Clay-colored Sparrow may have my choice for the Bird-of-the-Day, DeeAnne had another idea as you can see by her reaction when see discovered a Blue Jay in the bird bag. She has been waiting almost 2 months to see one up close, and today was her day.
The special thing about this Blue Jay, other than the fact that this was the first one captured this fall, was that it was already banded! After looking up the band number, I discovered that it was originally banded on October 28, 2010 at KIBS and had been recaptured one other time on April 25, 2011.
|Blue Jay (after hatch-year, sex unknown)|
Sparrows can be very difficult to age because the differences between plumage generations can be extremely subtle. Molt limits are hard to detect and oftentimes we have to rely on shape, wear, and relative color of the primary coverts which also can show a lot of variation. This Swamp Sparrow, however, was a little easier due to the fact that it had replaced its central rectrices (R1). You can see the obvious difference (molt limit) between the fresher, darker, and rounded replaced central rectrices compared to the more worn, paler, and pointed unreplaced outer rectrices. Not all Swamp Sparrows will replace the central rectrices but if they do, we should be able to age them as hatch-years (juveniles) in the fall. By late winter and spring, the rectrices will have become much more worn and the differences may not be so obvious.
|Swamp Sparrow (hatch-year): Note the molt limit in the rectrices|