Saturday, July 14, 2007

Four Degrees of NOPA-ation

Now in the middle of Summer, the babies are to be found all over Wekiva. Most of our netted birds were recently fledged birds of several species. Species included Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, Northern Cardinal, and Tutfted Titmouse. We also managed to capture a Carolina Chickadee and a pair of Carolina Wrens. The Wrens were recaptured residents, one of which revealed a very evident brood patch.

The most interesting catches were a series of young Northern Parula. None of them had the same feather pattern and the last of the day had us stumped for a few minutes. It was definitely a Parula from the top side but it displayed no yellow on the throat or breast which is almost always referenced in the literature.

Here are the 4 birds we captured, in order. Note the different molt patterns.

Northern Parula

None of us had ever seen a Parula with NO yellow on the breast. Time to ask an expert. I contacted a friend well versed in all things birdy in Florida, Bruce Anderson, co-author of "The Birdlife of Florida".

Part of his response: "It appears that molting occurs independently in two regions: the throat and the breast. So the bird with the creamy breast and white throat just hasn't begun the breast molt and is perhaps younger than the others and a female."

Mystery solved! We knew it WAS a Parula but wondered if it were some aberation. Nope. Just growing up a bit differently.

Reported sightings of Warblers entering the state are encouraging. Seems a slightly early migration push is on. Hoping next week's banding efforts bring us more yellow in the nets.

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