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Morning Birding Species List | August 4, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 7AM - 10AM
Weather: mostly clear, sunny
Location: Hallam Lake and West Buttermilk Road

Species Identified

Canada Goose
Mallard
Sora
American Coot
Black-chinned hummingbird
Broad-tailed hummingbird (pictured above)
Rufous Hummingbird
Steller's Jay
Violet-green Swallow
Mountain Chickadee
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Yellow Warbler
Song Sparrow

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Our short species list reflects the intensive studies we had of both hummingbirds and mallards today. Our hummingbird study took place at a private home on West Buttermilk Road where hummingbird feeders are maintained regularly through the summer, and with the excellent habitat, hummingbirds are attracted there in droves. We were able to study at close range, the three species in our list above, learning field marks for adult males and females, as well as juveniles and male sub-adults. We learned about hummingbird adaptations, foraging, migration, pollination, physiology, and breeding. Field marks included primary projection comparisons, subtle color and pattern differences on throats and flanks, bill length and shape, and overall size and silhouette.  On the way, we stopped at the pond at the base of West Buttermilk Road to observe a family of coots, and a rail was heard. At Hallam Lake, we attempted to separate adult male and female mallards from hatch-year juveniles. With eclipse plumages, this proves tricky, and field marks we concentrated on were bill color and pattern, and subtle differences in colors on the head. We have some questions to answer: how can juveniles be reliably distinguished from post-breeding adults?  When do adult males start molting back into breeding plumage? Answers will be next week's mini-lesson!

~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide