I’m quite behind in my bycatch* posts! All of the birds in this post were caught several trips ago.
*Bycatch: birds that fly into our nets while we are trying to catch juncos. We extract them from the net, take a few photos, and release them.
Female Brewer’s Blackbird:
I am too zen to be bothered by you, giant pink monster
If you get too close to a nest or a young fledgling, the parent juncos will often give a repeated, angry chip call. I don’t understand how this could possibly be adaptive—I would understand a snake-like hiss, or a tiger roar, but no one’s scared of “chip”—but as silly as it is for the parents to broadcast, effectively, “My nest is here, don’t come find it!” I do appreciate the help.
On our last trip we noticed SNAE and his unbanded mate chipping insistently.
SNAE. I photograph all the juncos I catch from several angles like this; the color standard card you see in the background lets me compare colors among pictures, to look at color differences among the juncos.
On our last trip, finally, we managed to catch some fledglings. We had been seeing them around for weeks, but as they didn’t seem to respond to playback, and they never flew the right direction when we tried to chase them into the net, we’d caught none.
On this last trip something had changed. No longer were all of the fledglings attended by their parents; instead, they formed foraging flocks of parents, attended fledglings, and apparently-independent fledglings. Attended fledglings are hard to catch because their parents lead them away from danger. Independent fledglings, it turns out, aren’t so careful. We set up the net where we observed the flock foraging, and within ten minutes the juncos drifted back into the area and resumed foraging.
BOAR was the first fledgling we caught.