Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 24, 2015

I know you are likely anxious to read about the birds but I need to let you know that this effort and blog would not happen without the marvelous crew of volunteers who show up day after day and week after week.  Today we worked extra hard as we hung, cleaned, and inspected a lot of nets in addition to all of the regular tasks. I am indebted to all who make this possible.  THANK YOU!!!!

We will be very busy this week and the next few.  We nearing the end of the Painted Bunting season (with quite a few more places to go) and are getting ready for spring migration.  We are seeing molts and fat and that means birds are moving.

We had birds on the property today that hadn't been around for a while.  Present today were White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, singing Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated Warbler and more.  Our resident Red-shouldered Hawks are feeling the spring too.

We banded 4 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 2 Gray Catbirds, and almost banded a Painted Bunting. We also recaptured a Blue Jay and 2 Northern Cardinals.  

Pete holding a Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Jane Wiewora

We determined that this bird was an after second year (not born last year) male.  We did this by several features but mostly by the uppertail coverts.  There are the obvious yellow feathers of the rump and then some coverts that show a wide black center and blue edging.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Pete Grannis

The Painted Bunting we caught went unbanded.  We determined that its legs were enlarged and unable to wear a band.  This damage we are told is due to mites.  We did see mites in its wing flight feathers.  Likely the legs will continue to swell and the bands would have constricted circulation.  He was a very oddly colored bird; more orange than red, and quite beautiful.  So sad to see what damage mites can cause.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Pat Marshall

Painted Bunting - close-up of the flattened and thickened legs
Photo by Pat Marshall

On a happier note, the Gopher Tortoises are out and visible (at least sometimes).  Perhaps they are happy for the warmer temperatures and sunshine.

Gopher Tortoise
Photo by Pete Grannis

Next banding:  March 3  Nets go up at 6:15.  Last one before daylight savings time!  Enjoy "sleeping in".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 17, 2015

It was good to re-open the banding station at Possum Long.  Weather permitting (no high winds or rain) we will be back to our Tuesday morning banding sessions.  Once migration is really moving we may add additional impromptu days.

Yesterday was quite busy in the early morning.  We banded a Northern Cardinal and a Painted Bunting.  We are so happy to now have 2 new caged platform feeders and the buntings are using them.  Two more are on the way!  Three of these new feeders are thanks to the efforts of Bruce and Pat Marshall.  In time, Possum Long will be THE public place in the area to observe Painted Buntings.  We recaptured a green that we originally banded in December. (The feeders are working!)

We also recaptured a Gray Catbird from November.  It is amazing how scarce this species has been this winter.  We did have one big catbird day last fall so maybe some will pass back through in the near future.

The rest of the morning we listed birds on the property.  Pete found a Magnolia Warbler which is likely an early migrant.  They are not a species that typically over-winter here.  A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a first for the property since we have been doing monitoring.  It is hard to add new ones to the list (which is over 100).

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (not the one at Possum Long though)
Photo by Larry Umthun

Picture taking was at an all time low.  I think we were so fascinated by watching a Red-shouldered Hawk devour some prey.  Looking for birds and trying to photograph an ever moving chicken also kept us busy!  Our resident not-wild Wild Turkey now has a new companion.

Next banding:  Tuesday February 24.  Nets open at 6:15.  Visitors are welcome.  We have some nets to hang and inspect.  If we are not too busy we will be doing this.  This is a great opportunity to learn how to help put up and take down nets!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

January 31, 2015 Grassland Sparrow Study visit

Though this did not occur at Possum Long, it is worth sharing.  For the past 4 years, I have gone to and assisted at the Weeki Wachee Sparrow Banding at Spring Hill, FL.  Marianne and Clay have been studying grassland sparrows for the past 8 years.  Their study aims to determine what species are present and if birds return to the same location (site fidelity).  Actually some birds have returned to the same field in subsequent years .

Grasslands at the Weeki Wachee Preserve
yes, there are nets up

Grassland birds are hard to detect almost anytime.  On their breeding grounds they may perch higher and sing but most of the time and in winter they are deep in the grasses and if flushed they return to the ground and run away.  Birds are corralled into the nets by a line of people walking toward the nets.  Birds are extracted, banded, and released.

I was fortunate to assist with this effort.  We banded 26 birds.  3 House Wrens and the sparrows:  5 Grasshopper, 8 Savannah, 9 Swamp, and a Henslow's!  The Henslow's was my first observed in Florida and my 97th species banded.  Two Wilson's Snipe (I extracted one) were also caught but they are not on Marianne's permit so they were not banded.

Henslow's Sparrow
photo taken by a participant with my camera

Wilson's Snipe

Being busy I did not take photos of the other species but I do have some photos from other years which are shared below.

Swamp Sparrow
Photo by Bill Eaton

Comparison of Grasshopper (front) and LeConte's Sparrow (back) from 2012
LeConte's not captured this year

Savannah Sparrow

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015

Happy New Year.  We have been busy banding Painted Buntings (see Painted Buntings Season Two in Pages section) but it is also time to restart Possum Long Banding!!  We will be banding (weather permitting) on February 17.  Nets go up at 7:00 am.  Things may be slow at first but each week should get better.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill Eaton

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014

Today was better than expected.  We did not run as many nets as last week as fewer members of the team could be there.  We caught a Northern Cardinal early in the morning.  Then we got three Gray Catbirds, two of which were recaptures.  One of those was the one we recaptured last week.

Then we got a Painted Bunting.  It appears to be a green (female or first-year male) that has been using the new feeder (see Painted Buntings - Season Two).

Painted Bunting
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

A good sized flock of warblers and a Blue-headed Vireo visited the station.  It was nice to search through the group that was mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers to find a Black-throated Blue, a Black-and-white, and a Prairie.  We later caught and banded a Black-and-white Warbler for a little excitement.

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo by Jane Wiewora

We closed up a bit early and headed home.  Be aware that we will not be banding for at least a few weeks.  Painted Buntings are keeping us busy and Possum Long will be quiet in the next few weeks.  I will post again before the next session.  Enjoy the break and see you in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 9, 2014

Today started with a recaptured Blue Jay and and then a rush and boy what a rush it was!!  We had two nets at the pond and a warbler flock hit the nets and  had at least 17 birds to extract and band. Never had that happen before!  We closed all the other nets and extracted the birds.  They were safely put into weighing bags and then processed.  If you have ever put a towel over a pet bird's cage or seen a falconer's bird with a hood on, you know this is a good way to keep birds calm.

Birds waiting to be processed (and a few more to come) 
Photo by Georgia Binderow

When this photo was taken Nancy Price was still extracting birds and I had a bird in hand.  A Gray Catbird had already been banded and released.  We ended up banding 6 Palm and 6 Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Several birds were released before banding for a variety of reasons including one that had a healed leg fracture and one that had a swollen leg and was likely ill.  No need to add to the compromised state they were already in.  We also released a previously banded Northern Cardinal.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle subspecies)
Photo by Marta Isaacson

Palm Warbler
Photo by Marta Isaacson

Palm Warbler
Photo by Marta Isaacson

Then there was a long lull until we caught 2 more Gray Catbirds.  One new bird and one a recapture.  We had never recaptured a Gray Catbird from a previous season until today.  The bird had been banded in April, 2013 and was an adult then.  This means it was born in 2011 and is still around.  It also means it has traveled to its breeding territory twice and then came back to pass through or over-winter at Possum Long once again.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Our last capture of the day was a White-eyed Vireo that was banded in February, 2013.  Great returns and site fidelity for these two birds. (The first Blue Jay was also banded in 2013 but was likely a resident and nearby since it was banded.)

White-eyed Vireo
Photo by Pete Grannis

Because we had such a great day we will band again on December 16.  Nets go up at 6:30.  After that we will be taking a break until late January or early February.  Watch the blog for start-up notices.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014

We really tried to dodge the raindrops.  It was a valiant effort.  We set up nets and soon caught a new Gray Catbird.

Not long after we recaptured the Wood Thrush from last week.  Photo from then too.

Wood Thrush
Photo by Georgia Binderow

A few chip notes and we were surprised to find an Ovenbird in our net.  It was originally banded on September 9 of this year.  It had not stored any fat but weighed a bit more than last time.  Had it built up muscle mass missing after a hard migration?  It's a good theory.

Sorry no new photos - very humid.  The rain started and we bailed.

Next scheduled banding:  NOTE TWO WEEKS OFF  until December 9.  Nets go up at 6:15.