MRBO Turns 102… Riding the storm out

A Clay-colored Sparrow, MRBO’s 102nd species caught
at Grand Pass Conservation Area. Species 101 was a
Marsh Wren, adding to the 258 birds of Spring 2011.

    At last, south winds prevailed. As we opened nets on Saturday we had hopes that they would bring in birds and they did. As a result, we were fortunate to band our 102nd species, a Clay-colored Sparrow, and enjoy a Golden-winged Warbler.
    First of the year (FOY) banding of Black-and-White Warbler (BAWW), Ovenbird (OVEN), Gray Catbird (GRCA) also occurred this weekend.
    North winds immediately followed and the birds will most likely stay put. Unfortunately it looks as if the birds have had a rough journey. We have been measuring our usual fat and muscle scores and this flight of birds is scoring remarkably low on both accounts. Migratory species show fat just below the surface of the skin. It is not unusual for birds to show up with no fat as they often use stopover sites to replenish their reserves. Muscle is measured subjectively along the keel (breast area). The birds that arrived this weekend had muscle scores of zero, the lowest score possible and rarely seen by us.
    MRBO Board Member of the Public Relations Committee, Dr. Kurt Dean, was on hand with a troop of students from University of Central Missouri. He is an Ornithologist with a stated interest in physiology and was as dismayed as we were at the condition of the birds.
    Could they have just flown through the the stormy, tornado weather that was slamming areas to our south? Probably, but it is anyones guess.

2 Responses to “MRBO Turns 102… Riding the storm out

  • Migratory species show fat just below the surface of the skin. It is not unusual for birds to show up with no fat as they often use stopover sites to replenish their reserves.

  • Well stated Michael. This is exactly what we are looking for and teach people who visit our banding site. More importantly (in the text above) the muscle scores were really low, indicating that they were burning through fat and additionally burning through muscle.