2021 has been a busy and exciting year for the Boulder Chickadee Study! With COVID subsiding and vaccinations completed we've been able to operate at our normal capacity. Joining the team this summer are Mia Larrieu (PhD student), Olivia Taylor and Will Anderson (undergraduate students supported by UROP and BSI).
Vanessa Arnold (undergrad, supported by UROP) and Angela Theodosopoulos (PhD student) are the returning vetrans this year, with both completing their final field seasons this summer.
From Angela: "My favorite part of the field season is working in person with a field crew again and being able to teach others hands on field research skills."
From Mia: "So far this field season, I've been learning so much about chickadees and getting oriented with all the beautiful properties that are part of the Boulder Chickadee Study. I'm also getting more comfortable handling and banding chickadees (and nuthatches) -- I even solo banded my first full nest of pygmy nuthatch nestlings! "
From Will: "So far during the field season, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn under extremely smart and experienced researchers. I have learned how to capture and band birds, and I am excited to use these new skills as the season progresses!"
From Olivia: "One of my favorite parts of the field season has been just being able to walk around all of the beautiful properties at Sugarloaf. It's been super nice to have a reason to get outside, especially since we were inside all semester doing classes. Banding the birds interacting with them more closely has also been very exciting for me!"
2021 was also the first year we have banded a chickadee with intermedaite plumage (see below)! The genomes we have been sequencing for the past three years have indicated that hybrid birds exist within the population, but this is the first bird that has looked intermediate and is likely an early generation hybrid. This female has a very fine white supercilium (eyebrow), which is smaller than a typical mountain chickadee supercilium, but otherwise looks like a black-capped chickadee. She's pictured here in her odd looking nest where we found her acting like she was incubating eggs (but she didnt have any...). She did, however, have an attentive black-capped chickadee mate.