July 12th – A Non-biting Rose-breasted Grosbeak

From the title I’ll bet you expected a report on a dead Rose-breasted Grosbeak because you know that they will seek (and usually find) any errant finger to latch onto…with great gusto. There’s an old axiom: dead grosbeaks don’t bite (I believe it was Socrates but I can’t be sure…) This bird was NOT dead. It was just very young, so young that the feathering under the wings (lemon-yellow in females, red in males) had not grown in yet so I could not tell what sex it was.

This is the time when the young are fledging – leaving the nest and learning how to get by while still being fed by their parents. This bird still had a lot of growing to do and given the length of its wing (~15 mm less than fullgrown) would have a hard time flying, certainly eluding an avian predator. Still, it has more chance of surviving away from the nest rather than in it. (It’s a tough life being a young bird – the life expectancy is low: > 80% of passerines do not survive their first year.)

I also caught a very young Red-bellied Woodpecker. Again, very short wing and not enough feathering to determine its sex.

Fortunately, we were visited this morning by Ken and Sue Heselton who run Harford Glen Ornithological Observatory in Maryland. I was able to rebag the young birds after I processed them and give them to Ken who obligingly took them back to the area in which they were caught to release them and reunite them with their parent(s).

Banded 13:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Eastern Bluebird (adult female with a brood patch)
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Song Sparrows
1 Baltimore Oriole
2 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 6:
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (adults of biting age)
1 Indigo Bunting
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 45 spp. (including an adult Bald Eagle)

Leave a Reply