Return from Nicaragua

Turquoise-Browed Motmot 2-21-15-2433

Turquoise-Browed Motmot

I got back home late Sunday night, almost Monday morning, so I did not go to work on Monday but spent most of my day cleaning, buying groceries, doing laundry, catching up on the domestic situation that always changes when you live in an aviary.

It will take me a few days to go through all the photographs, but I wanted to share a few in the interim, before the snow melts and I get distracted by spring migration.

Rufous=and-white Wren 2-21-15-3328

Rufous-and-White Wren

Our Operation Rubythroat group in Nicaragua, which now has been named “NicaNetters ’16,” met at the airport in Managua on Saturday afternoon, and we loaded up into the bus with our gracious and capable driver Carlos and superb local guide Alejandro Cesar Lee to the Montibelli Private Natural Reserve which is outside of Ticuantepe.

The original plan for the trip was to band Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and other neotropical migrants, but before we left the States we had to accept an unforeseen change of itinerary, which meant that we would not be setting up nets in the usual fashion. But our surprise upon arrival was finding out that we would indeed be setting up mist nets at least for the three days we had at Montibelli: Alejandro had banding experience and it was worth a try. I was particularly happy for the participants who had not been on one of these expeditions before, so that they would have the experience of what it is like to do this sort of thing.

Of course whenever we set up mist nets we catch some of the local resident species too. Below is the Turquoise-Browed Motmot in the hand.

Now whenever I see a dove I am reminded of my Diamond Doves at home. We’ll get back to them in a later post. This is an Inca Dove.

Inca Dove 2-21-15-2394Our first day we caught the beautiful Rufous-Capped Warbler below.

And we also had one or two Cinnamon Hummingbirds, which are probably the most common hummingbird species in this region. Below is one I managed to capture out of the hand. I hope to find a better picture as I go through them.

Cinnamon Hummingbird 2-21-15-2455

Cinnamon Hummingbird

After our first morning of setting up nets and monitoring in the field, my roommate Kathy and I got back to our room after lunch for a short break from the midday heat. Not long after we were ready to relax, there was a knock on the door. Our next-door neighbor had the beautiful bird below right outside his window. This is a Black-Headed Trogon.

Black-Headed Trogon 2-21-15-3615I spent much of the trip trying to get a picture of the bird below that was not in the hand, but the species eluded me until the last couple days when a good number of them were hanging out at the hotel where we were staying. I will return to continue the story more chronologically as I go through more pictures. But I just could not resist sharing this White-Fronted Magpie-Jay with you. The tail goes on forever.White-Fronted Magpie Jay 2-26-15-4625It’s good to be back, and thanks for stopping by!

A Bird in the Hand…

White-Eyed Vireo

White-Eyed Vireo

If anyone knows how much birds hate to be handled, it’s me. My indoor birds remind me of this constantly, and I don’t pick them up unless I absolutely have to. I’m not trying to offend anyone by posting these pictures.

Ovenbird

Ovenbird

But before I get on to writing in a future post about the primary reason for why I was in Belize–which was to be part of a group of 7 volunteers that helped Operation Rubythroat set up mist nets to catch and band Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and transcribe banding data…and all the reasons why they are doing this…

Black-and-White Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler

I wanted to share some pictures of other birds banded that I never could have seen so closely.

Hooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Suffice it to say I learned a lot in 8 days.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

For those of you still uncomfortable with the handling of the birds, we checked the nets constantly, moving birds still captive and waiting to be banded or shown out of the sunlight, and they survived well. I believe there was one casualty in a net on our last day, which was cut short due to inclement weather. I suppose the biggest testimonial to survival was the birds, already banded, recaptured from previous years.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush

The Northern Waterthrush was one of perhaps three or more we banded, but the Louisiana Waterthrush was the first one ever seen at Crooked Tree in Belize. See if you can tell the difference this close up. The distinguishing features are still subtle, but the Northern looks more “yellow” than the Louisiana and has denser streaking.

Tennessee Warbler banded 3-9-14

Tennessee Warbler banded 3-9-14

Tennessee Warbler banded 3-10-14

Tennessee Warbler banded 3-10-14

Compare the difference between these two Tennessee Warbler individuals. The one above is a male not finished with his molt and the one below is most likely a female. Banders can consult The Identification Guide to North American Birds: Part 1 and Part 2 by Peter Pyle to help distinguish between the sexes by length of the wing and tail feathers.

Male Yellow Warbler

Male Yellow Warbler

You may have noticed that all the migrant warblers are not quite as decked out as they will be by the time they reach us. This Yellow Warbler was just developing his rufous streaks.

Clay-Colored Thrush, National Bird of Costa Rica

Clay-Colored Thrush, National Bird of Costa Rica

The last bird on this post is not a neotropical migrant and therefore was not banded. But I thought it best expressed any indignation at being handled, for all the other birds banded on this page. And I probably never would have seen the beautiful streaking on its throat, in the field.