Sunday, March 06, 2011

Birds at Johnson Park

I took a walk through Johnson Park yesterday afternoon. I was hoping to see some waterbirds on the ponds, which had been frozen over on my last visit to that park about a month ago. Aside from the usual Canada Geese and Mallards, the only waterfowl I saw were a few Common Mergansers that flew past and some distant Common Goldeneye. There was a large group of gulls on a sandbar across the river from the park. I made out one Lesser Black-backed Gull among the group. A few other dark-backed gulls looked like candidates for Lesser Black-backed Gulls based on size, but I couldn't quite tell if other field marks were also consistent. A blackbird flock at the horse track included one Rusty Blackbird. Most of the birds in the flock were European Starlings, with a few dozen each Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles, as well as one Brown-headed Cowbird. The flock flushed pretty frequently, so it was difficult to make out anything more than that.

As I was leaving the park, I came upon a flock of Canada Geese close to the pathway. They tolerated my presence enough that I could get close and photograph them. A few birds were banded, and I was able to get a complete band number for one of them. The bird above has the band number 0908-42802. After I entered the band on the Bird Banding Laboratory's website, I got an automatically-generated email from them saying that the goose was banded in New Jersey in 1997. I am waiting to receive a certificate with more information about the bird.

Another goose in the same group had an odd wing. Its left wing was held slightly away from the body, and it appeared to have a dark underneath. The right wing looked normal. I am not sure if this was due to injury or some other cause. Whatever the cause, it did not seem to hamper the goose's ability to feed itself. With few predators capable of taking on a goose, this bird is probably relatively safe. I did not see this group of birds take off, so I am not sure if the wing is actually injured enough to prevent it from flying.