Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 4, 2018 - Final Florida numbers

Finally, new tallies of birds banded is done.  These numbers are up to the point that we left Florida.  The Painted Bunting Project was finished prior to our leaving.  We banded a total of 255 Painted Buntings in Season 5.  The grand total is 1616.

Incidentals (other species banded at Painted Bunting locations) were 185 for a grand total of 871 over the five seasons.

Birds banded at Possum Long since last reported was 313.  The grand total banded there is 1389.

Our Florida banding career's total is 3876.

We are grateful to have had the chance to do these studies and thank the many,many people who were involved.  You are so appreciated.


November 1, 2018

On Thursday we did our first White-crowned Sparrow Project banding at McNary National Wildlife Refuge.  We need a special use permit to band there and it came through.  We had banded there in the initial White-crowned banding from 2009-2011.  Now we will hopefully track individuals banded there.

A great thing about this location is that it is accessible to the public and we will be holding public banding sessions.  At this moment we do not have the second session scheduled but it will be announced at the bottom of this (and future entries) when the date is determined.

Our first bird was exciting.  We caught a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  We cannot band raptors but it was exciting to see.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

We soon banded our first White-crowned Sparrow at this location.  We have 2 split colors so McNary will have all orange/yellow split bands.  Other locations may use this split too but if you are going to try to spot bands, you can note this split there.  The split bands are important as they designate these White-crowned Sparrows as being from our study.  No one else will use this split.  Remember that the order is important.  Colors are read and recorded this way:  upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right.  That means this bird is split, silver (federal metal band), light blue, light blue.  No other bird will get this combination.  We can track this bird and possibly see it next year with adult plumage.

White-crowned Sparrow
First one banded at McNary NWR

We also band other species but they only get a federal band.  The incidentals were a Spotted Towhee, a Song Sparrow, and a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (male)

We banded a total of 13 White-crowned Sparrows before weather pushed us to close.  Next session will be announced here when scheduled.  Once feeders go up at the refuge these banded birds may be more easily spotted.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

October 27, 2018

Not too much new news.  Banding with Dr Ed Rykiel and team on Tuesday was a bit slow but started off with a bang.  Two Hermit Thrushes and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Not too sure how many other birds but it was fairly quiet.

Hermit Thrush

Thought you might enjoy seeing one of the banded White-crowned Sparrows.  We have two split colors:  red/blue and yellow/orange.  This pictures shows how even with a camera it can be tough telling all 4 bands.  This one is split over silver on the left and bright blue over dark green on the right.  The blue one isn't visible.

White-crowned Sparrow (immature)

Friday, October 19, 2018

October 18 & 19, 2018

The White-crowned Sparrow Project (WCSP) is officially launched.  We have our state and federal permits and the colored bands arrived Tuesday evening so we are ready to go.

I originally worked with White-crowned Sparrow banding from 2007 until our move to Florida in 2011.  We banded almost 1400 White-crowned Sparrows at three main locations.  The color bands only indicated age and locations (all birds got a federal and 1 or 2 color bands). 

That initial study documented site-fidelity as was its intent but returns could only be counted to the largest number seen at any one time (6).  So site-fidelity was proven but percentages could not be calculated.  This new study allows us to individually mark birds so that we can observe how long an individual stays and if it returns in subsequent years as well as what percentages do come back to the same site.

Incidental captures have been included in this research project.  During the first study we banded 20 different incidental species.  It will be most interesting to see what additional species are caught as we band White-crowned Sparrows.

If you are in the Tri-Cities I hope you will hear more about this project and if you are interested in learning more, you can reach out to

So, our initial banding day netted us 24 White-crowned Sparrows.  We also banded 7 Dark-eyed Juncos.  Six of these were the expected "Oregon" subspecies.  One was a "Slate-colored" subspecies and is not commonly seen.  This Slate-colored is a bit different than the east coast one.  In the Sibley Guide to Birds see the Rocky Mountain illustration.  We also banded two House Finches and an American Robin.

White-crowned Sparrow
first color combination

White-crowned Sparrow
first color combination

Dark-eyed Junco - slate colored
Rocky Mountain form

On the second day we were pleased to see birds banded the previous day.  We color banded 18 more White crowned Sparrows.  Incidental captures included 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, a House Finch and a Song Sparrow.  We do not have as many Song Sparrows at this site as seen in more wooded areas so it was nice to band this one.  We were very pleased to also catch a White-throated Sparrow that we had been seeing.  This species is rare on the west coast but usually at least annual, in low numbers in our area.  We banded one additional White -crowned Sparrow but did not use color bands.  It had a healed broken leg that would not have allowed the color bands to move.  It just got a federal (silver) band on its uninjured leg.

White-throated Sparrow (in yard several days prior to banding)

We will be adding 2 new locations and will keep you up to date on our progress.  

October 16, 2018

We are continuing to band with Dr Ed Rykiel and today we banded at the Amon Creek Natural Preserve.  This area is slowly being surrounded by housing and may not withstand the onslaught.  However, we did have our best day banding there and the birds were very active.  We banded the expected sparrows:  White-crowned (15) and Song (4) Sparrows.  The photos of the White-crowns will get you ready for our own upcoming project.  Mature birds (not born this past breeding season) have black and white stripes.  Immature birds' stripes are more buffy and brown.  Very easy to age until next spring when the White-crowns molt and all ages become black and white striped. 

adult White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also caught quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers (21).  We enjoyed the challenge of trying to age and sex them.  These are the Audubon subspecies of Yellow-rumps.  The yellow throat is the obvious difference from the Myrtle Yellow-rumps we banded in Florida.  Also note the lack of eye stripe that Myrtle has.

Audubon's race of Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Always a pleasure to catch and band are the kinglets.  They are so small it is amazing to hold them.  We caught 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  The first one was female and lacks the hidden ruby feathers.  The second one was a male with a brilliantly colored crown.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded an American Robin, an American Goldfinch, and 2 House Finches.  We will continue to band with Dr Rykiel but the good news is that by the end of today our color bands should arrive and we will start banding on October 18.  Let's see what we learn.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 2, 2018 another new species banded

We hope we are making progress toward our new banding project.  We now have our federal permit updated to WA state and our new project.  The proposal has also been submitted for our state permit.  The state agency has a maximum 60 days to review the application so it might be a while until we can start our banding.

In the meantime we are still working with Dr Ed Rykiel on his project.  We go out to local parks on most Tuesdays and today was no exception.  His project color bands four species; White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, House Finches, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  They are only banded with one color that indicates the location banded.  We have typically been catching the two sparrow species and a few more regulars.  The juncos aren't back yet and the House Finches are more typically caught later at feeders.

Today we banded 14 birds.  Most were the expected Song and White-crowned Sparrows.  We also caught a Bewick's Wren.  There were three other really fun birds:  Almost first off we caught an Orange-crowned Warbler.  This one was quite yellow, typical of a western sub-species.

Orange-crowned Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Then we caught two Golden-crowned Kinglets.  Usually this species is very high in coniferous trees.  We have seen them low in shrubs during migration before so maybe they were moving.  This is #117 if you are following my banding life list.  Both birds were male and showed off their golden crown with the hidden red stripe.  It doesn't entirely show in this photo but you can see a hint of red.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Later we caught a Golden-crowned Sparrow.  Both "golden" birds were new for Bill.

Golden-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Not a bad day of banding.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 4, 2018 - WA first!

Ah, what a relief it is to feel caught up for now.  If you've been reading all along, there have been some update posts and some newer posts.  But this is finally in real time as of today.  If you are new to this blog, welcome.  There's a lot to read but we hope it is of interest and value to you.

Today Bill and I went banding with Ed Rykiel on his project in Richland parks.  He has a huge emphasis on education which is really in keeping with what we do and will be doing.  It was great to be working with Rich again too as well as getting to know Lori better.

We set up 5 nets in WE Johnson Park.  This park is special as it has excellent habitat and is known for its great variety of birds.  Lisa Hill helped us scope out our location.  Having Lisa so near the park means she really understands what birds are in the park and where.  I always enjoyed finding migrants here.

We banded a total of 14 birds.  The long desired Black-capped Chickadee was caught and banded - my #116.  We banded a total of 6.  Another surprise was a Lincoln's Sparrow.  They are on the move from their higher elevation breeding grounds.  We had expected Song Sparrows so catching a  Lincoln's Sparrow first was a surprise.  We eventually did get 3 Songs as well as a Bewick's Wren.  During the later morning slump we did catch a White-crowned Sparrow.

Song Sparrow

The next to last net run yielded a Western Tanager.  She had a receding brood patch.  A beautiful bird.

Then the final bird of the morning was a shocker!  (Yes, Nancy Price, I did carry it back to the banding table a little hidden behind my back!)  Imagine catching a bird we had yet to see in Washington state.  Please realize we lived and birded here for 22 years before our move-and-7-year-stay in Florida.  It is really hard for us to add to our Washington list.  The surprise bird was a Magnolia Warbler.  Note its diagnostic under-tail pattern.  Also note that not all warblers with yellow rumps are Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Magnolia Warbler

I can't wait to see what's next.......