Sunday, June 24, 2012

Larsen Sanctuary breeding bird survey walk

Yesterday morning I led a small group on a breeding bird survey walk along with waterbird technician Sean Graesser at our Larsen Sanctuary in Fairfield. Our intent was to find some late June birds, possibly some fledglings or nests, and discuss what we do in our conservation work in terms of classifying nesting species. We also talked a great deal about breeding pertaining to several of the species we saw, their habits and habitat selections, nest choices, building and placement, as well as molts and plumage features.

Our breeding bird surveys essentially boil down to whether a bird is a possible breeder, a probable breeder, or a confirmed breeder. Examples of a possible breeder would be a male singing in appropriate habitat in the season. A probable breeding record would be a pair of birds seen acting as a pair in the same sort of situation, nest building, and more. Confirmed nesting is straightforward - finding fledglings, nests with eggs, but also some more specific actions such as seeing a fecal sac dropped or an adult carrying food a sizable distance.

Some of the breeding confirmations we had included:

Wild Turkey - four poults!
Red-bellied Woodpecker - at least one fledgling putting on a show with mom and dad
Downy Woodpecker - a couple of young feeding with their parents
House Wren  - at least three young learning how to feed
Common Yellowthroat - food being carried back to a nest
Yellow Warbler - at least two little yellow-ish ones feeding feet in front of us with their parents

We had a bunch of nice sightings such as this Green Heron...

That did not appear to be a breeding bird, but we enjoyed it regardless. Thanks again to everyone who joined us!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch and not to be reproduced without explicit permission

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