"A Bird in the Hand..."

is a wealth of information!

Baltimore Oriole(fall plumage).  Banding birds on Block Island has been a tradition since the 1960's.  Since then, extensive research and record keeping has provided a wealth of information on bird migration.  ©Scott Comings

Orchard Oriole(first-year male).  First-year birds make up a majority of fall songbird migrants on Block Island, RI; they are more likely to veer off their southerly course than experienced adults.  ©Scott Comings

Black-throated Green Warbler(fall plumage).  Block Island is a major stopover site for migrant songbirds and offers accessible shrubland habitat consisting of a variety of beneficial fruit-bearing plants.  ©Scott Comings

Black-throated Blue Warbler(male).  Male Black-throated Blues are easily identifiable, unlike so many of the olive-based plumages of warblers that challenge bird banders in the fall.  ©Scott Comings

Red-eyed Vireos are largely insectivorous(insect eating) during the breeding season and switch to a berry diet during migration to obtain the fat and protein needed for sustained long-distance flights.  ©Scott Comings

Nashville Warbler(fall plumage).  Important native fruiting shrubs for migrants along the coast of Rhode Island include Arrowwood Viburnam, Pokeweed, Virginia Creeper, Highbush Blueberry and Shadbush.  ©Scott Comings

For many bird species, the waxy-gray berry of the native Northern Bayberry shrub holds little nutritional value, but the Yellow-rumped Warbler has a special enzyme that can turn the berries wax into energy.   ©Scott Comings

This Chestnut-side Warbler(fall plumage) is on its way to wintering grounds in Central America where it will forage in a mixed-species flock(with resident bird species) that it most likely associated with the year before! ©Scott Comings

Many songbirds that boast a brilliant breeding plumage in spring are surprisingly nondescript in their fall feather assemblage.  The ovenbird is an exception...it's plumage is consistent year round and very striking.   ©Scott Comings

This immature Prairie Warbler most likely fledged from a shrubby field in the northeastern US and is now migrating along coastal Rhode Island towards similar habitats in Florida and the Bahamas.  ©Scott Comings

Scarlet Tanager(fall plumage).  Where's the scarlet?  Only the breeding male displays the striking red  plumage contrasted by solid black wings.  The bird banders on Block Island had to identify this one!  Can you?  ©Scott Comings

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker species in eastern North America that is completey migratory.  Also, females migrate further south than males do...but why?!   ©Scott Comings