Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 26, 2016

What's good for the birds isn't exactly exciting for us.  Another quiet day but some good data.  More Gray Catbirds.  We recaptured two and banded one new one.  One of the recaptures was from 11/11/2014.  Nice to know that Possum Long is a good resting and feeding place.  One of the birds we caught had traces of berries on its face.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Pete Grannis

Gray Catbird
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

The only other bird banded was an Ovenbird.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.  This time last year we had a lot of them.  We hear folks saying that birds are late and it has been very quiet.  It takes certain weather patterns for us to get larger numbers of birds.  What's slow for us means birds are moving through as they need to.  We wish them well.

Photo by Crystal Conway

We also wish Jane well as she migrates away from us.  We hope we will see her return migration sometime even for a short time.  We hope she finds many fun opportunities and enjoys the new life!

Next scheduled banding:  May 3, 2016.  Nets go up at 6:15 am

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 19, 2016

Some leftover news from while I was away.  Molly Bartels  (see April 5) revisited the station on April 12 and her article and video on our continuing efforts were published.  I don't know how long this link will work but the update article on our banding was front page above the fold!  So many thanks to Molly and The Stuart News.

Our day started with a lot of excitement.  We got a very large bird in the net. Nancy gave a call out so we could see and deal with our catch.  We released a Red-shouldered Hawk!!  I cannot band raptors and the safest thing for this bird was to open the fold and let it out.  The net squares were too small to snag this magnificent bird.  In all the excitement, we failed to photograph the event.

Soon after we started catching Gray Catbirds.  Much like last year, the migrants are slowly making their way through.  We saw only a few but we also caught them!  If last year's pattern holds this year, the next two weeks could be busy and interesting.

Soon we had our first warbler and it was exciting.  We banded a Hooded Warbler.  This wasn't the first time but it is always an event!  I called Jim to come see what we were banding and he said, "But there's a Hooded Warbler in the 'woods' net"  (our net locations are described with titles not numbers as in some stations).   Two Hooded Warblers in one day!

Hooded Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

More Gray Catbirds for a total of nine! And then we caught the second warbler species - an Ovenbird.  This species should become more numerous in the next two weeks.  

Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Next scheduled banding:  April 26.  Nets go up at 6:15.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 12, 2016

My humble apologies to readers.  I was away on this date and the sub-permit holders, Pete Grannis and Nancy Price, and all of the volunteers kept the station running.  I am very grateful to them all.  My apologies to Pete who authored the following but I was not able to get it posted in time for the April 19 session.

Possum Long Banding Station – Tuesday, 4/12/2016
It is still a bit early in the season for migrating passerines (the small perching bird species), but Gray Catbirds are right on schedule. Gray Catbird was definitely the bird of the day. We caught and banded 4 catbirds, and there were at least a dozen more calling and feeding around the property.

This Catbird was replacing in two tail feathers, R1 and R6.  
Photo by Jane Wiewora
One other bird we banded today was a Painted Bunting, a green bird in its first year. We also re-captured another green Painted Bunting, also in its first year, which we first saw and banded last November. Another green Painted Bunting, not banded, was observed at one of the feeders. These birds are getting ready to go north. Painted Buntings generally leave this part of Florida completely by mid-April to early May.

Retained formative primary coverts help age this 
Painted Bunting as a bird in its first year of life.  
Photo by Jane Wiewora
Elsewhere on the property we noted a flock of 15 or so Cedar Waxwings overhead, which subsequently landed in a dead pine tree. As time went on more birds joined them until there were more than 60 in the trees. Cedar Waxwing numbers seem to ebb and flow from year to year, so it was nice to see this gathering.

Cedar Waxwings seemed to like this dead pine tree. How many do you see?  Photo by Pete Grannis
We also spotted 3 Egyptian Geese as they flew overhead, which is a new species for Possum Long’s all-time list. Egyptian Geese are recognized as an established exotic species in south Florida, and are expanding their numbers. Other sightings for the day included Green Heron, Summer Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo, and the resident Red-shouldered Hawks.
Next Tuesday we’ll be setting up nets at 6:15. Stop by and visit!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

Once again we had a quiet day in great anticipation of arriving migrants.  We did see a few - Danny, our visitor, photographed a Red-eyed Vireo.  Some team members saw a Blue-headed Vireo.  There was a stunning Prairie Warbler on the property.

Another guest we had today was Molly Bartels, Visual Multimedia Journalist with the Stuart News.  Molly was actually the person who spotted the Prairie Warbler - a budding birder now!  There's a chance we will have photos in the Stuart News tomorrow and videos online.  I think we convinced Molly to visit more and to see Painted Buntings when we are banding again in the fall.

We captured 1 new Gray Catbird today and a female Northern Cardinal.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Jane Wiewora

We also recaptured 2 other Gray Catbirds.  One had been banded as a young bird on December 9, 2014.  Remember birds turn the next year old on January 1. This bird was 2 in 2015 and is now 3.

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, April 12.  Nets go up at 6:30.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 29, 2016 - a day of wit?

It was a typical banding day with a good mixture of new birds and recaptures.  It was a fun day with everyone who volunteers and visits!

We caught 2 new Gray Catbirds and a male Painted Bunting.
We recaptured a female Painted Bunting, a House Wren, a Northern Cardinal, and a Blue Jay.

Migrants were in short supply.  Volunteers saw at least three Black-and-white Warblers and they could tell this because two were banded!  One on the right leg, one on the left leg, and the third was unbanded.

Maybe the highlight of the day, at least for Nancy Price, was to see this critter as she set up nets!

Photo by Nancy Price

The recaptured Blue Jay was from September of last year.  It felt the need to put its foot in its mouth.  Maybe a problem we all have from time to time.

Blue Jay
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Our company enjoyed the Gray Catbird that Pete banded.  Claudia captured the cat being let out of the bag!

Gray Catbird being weighed
Photo by Claudia Melear

Maybe best of all was the returning Painted Bunting.  It is about the 70th one this year that we have documented as returning to the site where they were banded. This one was banded almost a year ago (3/24/15) at Possum Long.  There is no place like home, even a winter home. Since she is now a year older and has had a second molt we know this to be a female.  Hopefully someone will find more of our banded buntings as they migrate to their summer homes.  Kudos to Jane who is working hard using social media to make people aware that there are banded Painted Buntings out there.  

Painted Bunting
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We caught the House Wren last week during a training session.  Recapturing it gave us a chance to show others the wing patterns of a wren in hand.  Maybe a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush??

House Wren
Photos by Pete Grannis

Next banding:  Tuesday, April 5.  Nets go up at 7 am.  Remember that constant rain will cancel sessions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 22, 2016

I think it happens every year.  Migrants are moving; we saw Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Parulas, and Great Crested Flycatchers.  However, in the nets we had more common winter birds.  We caught 3 Northern Cardinals, a Painted Bunting, a Common Yellowthroat, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Recaptures included a Northern Cardinal from 2014, the Ovenbird who has been around for the past three weeks, and a Painted Bunting originally banded three weeks ago.

Our Osprey has young in the nest.  Always great entertainment when a parent brings in food and we can see the tiny head reaching for food.

The new Northern Cardinals were all female.  The recapture was a male.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

The Painted Bunting was a new green.  Hopefully these birds will continue to return to the property.  They are soon to be on their way to their breeding grounds in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Any bunting we capture now is over our total from last year.  Read more in the Pages section of this blog: Painted Buntings - Season Three.

The Common Yellowthroat may have been the only true migrant but hard to tell as it just as likely could have overwintered at the pond.

Common Yellowthroat
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Our Yellow-rumped Warbler had not really begun molting.  It had some fat so maybe with a little more feeding it will make its way north and acquire its summer appearance.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, March 29, 2016.  Nets go up at 7:00 am.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016

Today we had our first indication that birds are moving.  There was a good mix of winter birds still around but in lower numbers as well as a few new migrants.

Early on we caught a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  This may well be the last for the season.  May the migrants keep coming!!

Next we had our second ever Louisiana Waterthrush.  Typical of leaf gleaners this bird would snap at any approach to its bill.  They do this when they search leaves and then automatically snap at any potential food.  Louisiana Waterthrushes are early migrants and usually hard to detect.

Louisiana Waterthrush
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

This bird showed the large bill, white throat, and white undertail coverts that separate it from the Northern Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

The rest of the birds were recaptures.  It is truly amazing how many we have had recently.  We recaptured a female Painted Bunting from  March, 24, 2015 - the last bunting we banded last year.  Since this bird left it underwent another molt and remained green, thus we know it to be female now.  We recaptured another green Painted Bunting (banded last week) and the Ovenbird we have had the last 2 sessions.  Most informative of all, we recaptured an American Redstart that we banded in October, 2013.  Not much yellow coloring in the wing given that we know it was at least 4 years old.

American Redstart
Photo by Pat Marshall

American Redstart
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

The oddest thing we caught was a Florida Box Turtle.  It wandered into a net and pulled in its head and feet.  We moved it out of the netting but the shell had closed around a small bit of the net.  Eventually it stuck out its head and we could see that its foot was snagged on a few strands.  With gentle pulling it extended its foot and the net came off.  A group of three-year olds were touring the property as part of an early education program with our Education Committee and the Gertrude Walden School.  They really enjoyed our find.

Florida Box Turtle
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Next banding session:  Tuesday, March 22, 2016.  Nets go up at 7 am.