Little creeper and creeping bycatch

It’s fledgling season, and not just for juncos. The other week we ran into this guy:

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Fledgling Brown Creeper

In fact we nearly stepped on him. We picked him up to put him in a nearby bush, where he might be safer, but he had other plans: he hopped right back to the ground.

2013_creeper2He then fluttered and scrambled his way over sticks and even a fallen log to the base of a tree, which he crept up like the Brown Creeper he was—although much more slowly than an adult. Still, it was an impressive thing to watch from such a young bird.

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Unprecedented bycatch

Recently we caught, as bycatch, two birds from two orders that we had never caught before. (Order being a high hierarchical level of organization of species relatedness, as in kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species.) Both were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, although for different reasons.

Female Calliope Hummingbird (I think?)

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This beautiful bird was terrifying to catch because hummingbirds are very fragile. We don’t expect to catch them in our nets—the mesh size is large enough that in most cases a hummingbird could zoom right through—and in fact we hope not to catch them, since they can be especially stressy little creatures. They are also strange birds to handle, not permitting any of the usual bird grips: bander’s grip, a very secure and safe grip, puts your fingers around a bird’s neck, but hummingbirds have too-tiny necks for it; photographer’s grip relies on grasping the bird’s thighs, and hummingbirds’ thighs are much too short.

Fortunately I was able to quickly extract our hummingbird from the net. She rested on my palm for about thirty seconds, then—just after this next picture was taken—zoomed off high into the canopy.

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Return of the bycatch

We only try to catch juncos, but when you have nets up in good habitat, some accidental capture of other species seems to be inevitable. These other species—our “bycatch”—are quickly extracted from the nets and released, although not without a few photos first.

Fox Sparrow

Do you know who I am?

Do you know who I am?

Unhand me at once!

Unhand me at once!

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Bycatch catch-up

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

Actually, not

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Golden bycatch

There’s one species that we’ve been hoping to accidentally catch since we noticed it in our field sites.

(Well, we hope to accidentally catch pretty much every bird we see in our field sites, because we love having an excuse to handle birds. But this one has been especially fantasized about.)

We didn’t actually expect to catch this bird, though. It stays very high in the trees, much higher than our nets. I still don’t understand how we caught this bird, but we did! This one was not, to be totally honest, our absolute dream bird—that would be the male of this species, since the male is even brighter—but she was still very dreamy.

Click through to see her.

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