Sunday, October 11, 2015

Example of an Indigo Bunting's 1st Prebasic Molt

Captain Sam's

Today the Spit saw a boost in capture rates, although not as much as we hoped with the cold front moving through. Likely it was the strong wind that kept movement down today. We banded 56 new birds and recaptured 15 of a total 14 species. Highlights of the day included a Painted Bunting recaptured with color bands from North Carolina, and a gorgeous hatch-year male Indigo Bunting with a beautiful example of this species' first prebasic molt.

The Indigo Bunting was particularly interesting to see because most of the hatch-year birds we've captured so far have still been in their supplemental plumage--a special plumage the young birds of this species molt into on the summer grounds, including body feathers and sometimes greater coverts but nothing else. These birds cannot be sexed at this stage except with extreme individuals that show a few blue body feathers of a male. But today's Indigo Bunting was well on his way through his prebasic molt, showing blue body feathers, a bright blue shoulder and the eccentric flight feather molt pattern that only hatch-year birds have. This eccentric replacement includes the outermost primaries and innermost secondaries, leaving old, juvenile feathers in the center of the wing. See the photos below for visuals of this special molt.


Indigo Bunting with the blue body feathers of a hatch-year male.
Indigo Bunting's wing, displaying the eccentric prebasic molt pattern of a hatch-year bird: the new,
darker brown outermost primaries contrast noticeably with the older inner flight feathers.
This hatch-year male Indigo Bunting has already replaced his entire tail as well, as seen by
the darker brown color and bright, distinct blue edging.
Photos by Casey Weissburg

Little Bear

Little Bear remains inaccessible due to flood damage.

  SpeciesCaptain Sam'sLittle Bear
Eastern Phoebe3---
Carolina Chickadee1---
House Wren2---
Marsh Wren1---
Carolina Wren-1--
Gray Catbird1311--
Common Yellowthroat191--
American Redstart2---
Black-throated Blue Warbler2---
Palm Warbler (Western)11---
Prairie Warbler1---
Northern Cardinal-1--
Indigo Bunting1---
Painted Bunting-1--

 Banding StatsCaptain Sam'sLittle BearTOTAL
# Birds Banded56
# of Recaptures15
# of Species14
Effort (net-hours)122.7
Capture Rate (birds/100 net-hours)57.9

Banding Staff
Aaron Given (CS)
Mattie VandenBoom (CS)
Chris Snook (CS)
Nancy Raginski (CS)
Sean McElaney (CS)
Casey Weissburg (CS)
Michael Gamble (CS)
Ryan Donnelly (CS)

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