Catching Males, Eggs Hatching, Plumage ID, and Natural Nest Found

It’s good to be fully prepared this time around.   With all wig-wags repaired and/or installed along with our new Iron Man fishing poles, catching males has never been easier!   Not to mention having two observers (one following each adult in flight) while another team member waits anxiously to give a tug on the line, thus closing and trapping the desired adult (in this case the male) inside of the box.  We hope to catch 20 males this year, blowing our record of 2 in 2012 out of the water.

 

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Adult male GOSW in the hand

Being able to catch all of the adults will also allow us to put together a visually descriptive key as to the plumage differences between fledglings, SY males and females, as well as ASY males and females.  There’s no doubt at this point that males have a very clean and brilliantly white chest, while females have some darker spotting (almost small stripes) coming across the breast from the shoulder region.  Once we’ve caught and photographically analyzed more females, we hope to have a much better description based on the age of the bird.

Yes, eggs are hatching, and quickly.  The bulk of the boxes should be hatching with the next week.  That’s a scary reminder as to how fast this field season is moving.

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 Two chicks await their younger brother or sister

Now this is incredible news:  we found a natural nest at one of our sites (why they didn’t use the boxes we have them, we have no idea….) located in a very dense clump of dried, dead lichen on a Hispaniolan Pine tree branch about 25 feet above the ground.  Based on the amount of time the female is spending on the nest (which is obviously just out of view at that height), we are quite certain that she is incubating at this point (which very much parallels the activity in all of the nearby nests inside of our boxes).  This may be the first (or one of the first times) that this more ‘open-cup’ nesting behavior has been seen and documented.  However, it’s worth noting – and the picture can help with this – that the nest may be superficially ‘cavity-like’ in the way the branches, dead needles, and dead lichen are arranged.  These clumpings, however, are not rare in the slightest in this habitat and should be considered potential nesting options.

 

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Adult female GOSW enters natural nest in dead clump of lichen and pine needles

Out of the 8 adults we have trapped this year, 6 were previously banded adults from last year.  I think we’re going to be seeing some incredible site fidelity with this species.  More to come on this soon.

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Adult GOSW takes flight from a high perch

It continues to rain most of the afternoon but we have the feeling that the drier season is coming our way soon.  Fingers crossed.

 

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