Today we did a full nest check, which means that we checked all of the nest boxes to see what is inside. During this time we also try to catch female Prothonotary warblers in order to document weight, height, feather samples, and blood samples. These samples are then used to determine reproductive fitness. While checking the boxes, we also put silver bands and color bands on the feet of the females so that their information can be added to a data base, so we know all the information from that cetain female at any time. The nest boxes can contain eggs or nestlings, or both. If the box contains nestlings, we put silver bands and colored bands on the nestling's legs, take measurements, and take blood samples. This information will also be used to determine fitness by comparing the health of the offspring.
Today Cara and I went out in our new, bright orange canoe without Dr. Huber and it was quite an adventure!! Well, the orange canoe is actually more of a kayak and it was a lot smaller than we had originally expected. It was quite a show, especially for the fishermen, to see Cara paddling us in circles due to the extra weight in the front of the kayak, which was actually because of me. But despite the hardships paddling, we did get some of our more elusive males recorded. So, today was a good day because we did get a few males that we really needed to get recorded.
After we got back, I went over to the lab and finished organizing and listening to all of our recordings. Now we have a compiled list of all the males we have recorded, so we can record all the males that we do not have. This is a huge step that is now taken care of. The next step is to record all the males we do not have and perform the analysis on the recordings.
"Those who wish to sing will always find a song" --American Proverb
Today was all about bird song. Listening, listening, and re-listening. I listened to over 120 tracks, which added up to over seven hours of male prothonotary warbler songs. When we are in the field males are banded with a unique combination of color bands, making it possible to identify them individually.Each male is recorded with a Sennheiser K6/ME62 Omni-directional microphone mounted on 22 inch Telinga parabolas. After organizing the songs they will be analyzed using Signal song analysis software. Some characteristics of song that we are looking at include: repertoire size, trill rate, song rate, and pure-tonal quality. These song features will eventually be correlated with measurements of male quality, reproductive success, and plumage.
So, today was all about organizing bird songs and determining which recordings from the field we could use to identify male fitness. The individual songs that I found on the recordings today will help us know which males we have enough songs on to run the analysis and which males we need to obtain more songs. Then we will know which males to focus on during our field time. The next step is to get more songs and to run all songs through the Signal software to identify individual differences to determine characteristics of male quality.
For the past few weeks, myself, Cara, and Dr. Huber have been going out on the canoe and checking all of the bird boxes along Four Mile Creek and the stretch of the Jame's River called Siedenburg stretch. Every morning this week, today being the exception, we woke up bright and early, at five a.m. to be precise, and went out to record male prothonotary songs and to catch females. Today was out of the ordinary because it was raining, so today we took the day to do some much needed data organization. Since, this has been an ongoing project since the begining of the spring semester, there is a lot of data to sift through. For example, we have over seven hours of male song to cut and analyze, over 160 blood samples to organize and analyze, and over one hundred feather samples to examine. So, today was a much needed day for organization and data interpretation. Plus we got a new boat; it is orange and it will be used for song recording.