OK, it’s official. I need three more hands, five more hours in a day and a couple of more days in the week. But I’m not complaining – just making an observation. Oh, and winning the lottery jackpot would be nice too!
Banding is underway again for the fall season, though migrants haven’t really begun to show up in numbers yet. A swainson’s thrush is probably the first real migrant we’ve seen this week, but there’s no shortage of local babies – especially gray catbirds and cardinals.
Young cardinals are real cuties, though it can be a little difficult sometimes to determine whether they are males or females. At other times, the difficulties are minimal. Males, of course, sport the brighter colors. On hatching year birds both male and female, the reddish orange beak of the adults is dark or pale. The bill is turning color, with only the top part of the upper bill retaining some of the dark, dusky coloration. Notice the difference in plumage in the first photo, and the one below.
Given the amount of red plumage on this bird, it’s a young male. In this photo, you can get a better look at the gradual color change in the very formidable bill.
Usually, the cardinals we capture have either the very dusky brown bills of the juveniles, or the bills are in various stages of turning from dusky to orange. The bird in the last photo has an unusually (for us) pale bill. The dusky juvenile coloring is fading, but the orange coloring of the adults isn’t really visible yet. Instead, she looks a little odd with a very lightly colored bill. It’s just a cardinal thing.