Families from Maplewood

Adult male American Robin

We’re off to Rock Ridge tomorrow for visit number three, and I thought before I collect more MAPS photos I should post what I had from Maplewood Bog earlier this week. It’s a nice break from packing, too, which is well underway. A few dozen boxes are already filled and stacked against the wall, awaiting the moving truck we’ve rented next week. It’s amazing how you can pack and pack and pack, though, and until you start moving the furniture out into the truck and emptying the space it still doesn’t look like you’ve accomplished very much.

The first half of the summer is predominantly comprised of adults that are either incubating or tending young in the nest. Beginning as you start approaching the end of June, though, you start to find recently fledged young and post-breeding adults moving about (I spoke in a bit more detail about that a couple of posts ago when discussing chickadees). At Maplewood earlier in the week we caught a family of American Robins. Above is dad, with his clean black hood and solid orange breast.

Adult female American Robin

Mom is more subdued, with a dark gray hood, sometimes bordering on brownish, and her orange breast suffused with hoary fringes. This particular individual seems to have a fair amount of white on her throat and face, but I don’t think that’s sex-related.

American Robin fledgling

And finally, the baby, sex unknown. Young robins show the spotted breasts typical of adults in most other thrush species. They also sport the thrushy shaft streaks on the feathers of their back and scapulae. In a month or two the baby, now an adolescent, will go through its puberty plumage change, moulting out a lot of its baby body feathers and replacing them with adult-looking teenage feathers. Although in the fall and winter it can be hard to tell the youngsters apart from their adult, sometimes you’ll see the teenagers have retained a couple of these streaky feathers on their shoulders.

Adult Red-eyed Vireo with brown eye

Speaking of retaining teenage features, this Red-eyed Vireo had a distinctly brownish iris, which is a characteristic of young Red-eyes (compare to the adult in this post). Usually their eyes gradually turn red over the winter and by the time they come back as first-time breeders they’ve got eyes the same colour as the older birds. However, a very small percentage of Red-eyed Vireos may retain their brownish eyes through the spring and occasionally even into their first summer. An even smaller percentage may never get a red eye. Red-eyes can be tricky to age by other features so I wasn’t sure whether this was one of the small percentage or smaller percentage.

Song Sparrow fledgling

We caught a family of Song Sparrows late in the morning, in the same net with the baby chickadees. One adult (dad, if I remember correctly) with three youngsters in tow. This is one of the youngsters. Fledgling Song Sparrows look different from the adults, often with a golden wash that gives them a more diffused pattern. They also lack the central breast spot the adults have. However, they do show some features the adults also have, such as that thick malar stripe (the dark moustache that comes down from the bill).

Swamp Sparrow fledgling

In the net with them was a fifth sparrow, which I initially mistook for another member of the family. However, this one was different – the malar stripe was indistinct, the breast streaks were thinner, it had a smaller bill and the facial structure was slightly different. It was, in fact, a fledgling Swamp Sparrow, now independent and on his own. There are Swamps in the bogs in the site, and I suspect that this youngster came out of a nest hidden down there in the willows and sphagnum moss.

That’s it for Maplewood – tomorrow, Rock Ridge, undoubtedly with plenty of surprises of its own!