Friday, July 13, 2007

What Jesse brought in

As Jesse rounded the corner, I could see her mouth bulging and bird feet hanging to one side. It was a small bird, already dead and with four bands on its ankles--metal, pink, brown, and black. I took out my loup and looked closely at the metal band. I found nine inscribed numbers, plus the words "abre" and "open". I wonder why the bird was banded four times?

I then consulted my trusty bird book, Golden's A Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America. I wrote down my guesses: 1) a juvenile brown towhee, 2) a common female house finch, 3) a female juvenile brown-headed cowbird, 4) a female house sparrow, 5) a juvenile indigo bunting (because of the conical beak), and 6) a female brown-capped rosy finch.

On the internet I found a site to report a banded bird online where I found out that the metal band means the bird was banded by permit through the US Bird Banding Laboratory. I bet they didn't ask the bird though...

The band number I entered online went into a banding database and within seconds the result appeared: it was a common house finch, Carpódacus mexicánus, banded in Arizona on September 22, 2006. The description in the bird book says the common house finch has a warbling song with a few harsh notes. My initial excitement wore off quickly.

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