Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 20 & 21, 2014

Yes, we were out twice this week but only one was at Possum Long.  It is the beginning of Painted Bunting Banding Season so make sure to follow those events on the page called Painted Buntings - Season Two. (Look in the almost upper right hand corner for the pages.  Season One is there too if you've missed it.) Monday we banded 15 birds at DuPuis Wildlife Management Area so take a look at the bunting photos and those of the incidental captures.  (Ok - a bunting photo here because they are so gorgeous!)

Painted Bunting
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Tuesday was also busy at Possum Long with 13 birds total.  The catbirds are back!!  Actually some of them might be migrating through and using Possum Long as a stopover.  Some had a good store of fat, enough to keep going, while some had none.  We banded 8 of them.  Most were hatch-year birds and one was very interesting in that it retained one of its juvenal tail feathers.  You can see that it is much browner than the others.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Two Northern Cardinals were banded as well as some other fun birds:  One was another Northern Waterthrush.  You can see the dark undetail feather described the last time we caught one.

Northern Waterthrush
Photo by Nancy Price

We didn't photograph the White-eyed Vireo.  The last species we haven't had for a while.  We are starting to move the nets toward the pond where the birds seem to congregate as "winter" approaches/migration finishes.  This Northern Mockingbird was captured at the pond.  Unfortunately it had a sore on its leg (Infection or parasite??).  So many times when banded birds are seen, the injuries are blamed on the bands (and possibly sometimes rightly so) but this injury was present and healed over before we banded the bird. The band was applied to the other leg.

Northern Mockingbird
Photo by Nancy Price

Next scheduled session October 28.  Nets go up at  7 am.  Enjoy the late arrival while you can.  When clocks are turned back it is back to early start times!





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 13 & 14, 2014

Sometimes I read other banding blogs and cannot fathom the numbers they band and some of the birds they process.  But then again, I am thankful that we have a "quiet" station that has had a great variety of species, some real surprises, and a chance to study what we band.  The volunteers at this station are so utterly fantastic.  We have fun and we learn a lot.

Monday started out with a true squeal!  It was still mostly dark and there was noise at one of the nets.  I swear the net jumped out at us.  In the net was our second Chuck-will's widow!  This bird was born this year.  The tail feathers only have a small buffy tip.  I love the coloration of the wing and tail.  The last one banded was on January 29, 2013.

Chuck-will's widow
Photo by Nancy Price

Chuck-will's widow
Photo by Nancy Price

We also caught an American Redstart, an Ovenbird, and 3 Northern Cardinals.  The next excitement was a Veery.  This bird is reddish head to tail on the back and lacks the eyering of a Swainson's Thrush.  Only the third we have gotten, this one was special because it was a hatch year bird.  This is told by the presence of buffy tips on the wing coverts.

Veery
Photo by Nancy Price

Veery
Photo by Nancy Price 

Tuesday didn't bring a lot of other birds but the two we got were different from yesterday's bunch.  Also, recaptures gave us some nice data.  

The Northern Waterthrush we captured was quite yellow which is known in this species but not seen on most birds.  This tint is most evident in the second photo.  Also visible is the dark center feather of the undertail coverts.  This is not present on a similar species, Louisiana Waterthrush.


Northern Waterthrush
Photos by Georgia Binderow

I had fun with the next species.  We banded one and recaptured another.  White-eyed Vireos have a definite stare, much like that of a parent or teacher, due to their eye color.  They mean business!  The recapture was from February, 2013 which demonstrates site fidelity in this species.  Another recaptured Worm-eating Warbler had been more recently banded but showed an increase in fat which demonstrates the importance of stopover feeding locations for migrating birds.  

White-eyed Vireo
Photo by Georgia Binderow 

Next scheduled banding session will be October 21.  Nets go up by 6:45 am.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 6 & 7, 2014

I have had some people ask, so here's the scoop.  We typically band on every Tuesday until the birds take their winter break sometime in December.  While we are still getting migrants, we may add other days. Recently it has been on Mondays.  If you come to the property and we are not at the parking lot on 7th, continue down 7th and turn left on Hibiscus.  We sometimes work from there.

Migration has slowed but we are still getting great captures and recaptures.  On both days we captured 5 new birds.  Monday we had the first Gray Catbird of the season and we expect many more.  Funny how we are now excited about this species.  Another 100 catbirds from now this may diminish.  Other birds were a Black-and-white Warbler, a male Painted Bunting, and 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price 
The tiny bit of buffy color below the gray on the face indicates that this is a hatch-year bird.  

Hopefully I can add a few more photos from Monday but one of our photographers is having camera and computer issues.

Tuesday's birds were a tad more exciting and a different variety of species.  We caught a Swainson's Thrush - our second thrush of the fall. This one can be identified by its buffy eye ring and background color of the spots.  It was an adult bird aged from the lack of light spots on the wing coverts.

Swainson's Thrush
Photo by Georgia Binderow

We also caught our third ever Hooded Warbler.  This is such a distinctly marked bird.  Awesome to have in hand.  All three birds have been male.  Maybe sometime we will get a female or hatch year one.


Hooded Warbler
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Black-throated Blue Warblers continue to find our nets.  Our visitor, Danny, was able to see a female and he released it.  

Black-throated Blue Warbler - female
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Black-throated Blue Warbler - male
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Recaptures can be a great source of information as well as a bit of excitement.  Tuesday we recaptured the first ever White-eyed Vireo we banded.  It was banded on February 15, 2013.  We do not detect the presence of this species during breeding so likely this bird had left the property and returned for the winter TWICE!  We also recaptured this bird on December 3, 2013.

White-eyed Vireo
Photo by Georgia Binderow

It too has decided to express its opinion of the bander.  

Next Tuesday banding - October 14, 2014.  Nets up between 6:45 to 7 am.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

We have been very fortunate managing to band despite the rain in the last few weeks.  I think the amount of rain has resulted in a few more birds being around a bit longer.  More on that as we go on.

We banded on Monday and Tuesday this week.  Both days kept us running.  We banded 13 on Monday and 9 on Tuesday.  Tuesday also had many recaptures due to heavy rain yesterday that likely kept birds from flying on last night.  In addition they may have remained just in order to eat to build up more fat stores. Some birds were well stocked while others had virtually no fat on board.

Monday we caught a lot of Ovenbirds (6) and Black-throated Blue Warblers (4).  Most of the Ovenbirds were adults.  This Black-throated Blue Warbler was born this summer.  We tell this by the few white feathers still showing in the black throat.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (male)
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Black-throated Blue Warbler (male)
Photo by Nancy Price

Two others were American Redstarts.  One loved us so much it was reluctant to leave after weighing! (It was not being held back).

American Redstart
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

American Redstart
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

So saving the best for last, we banded our first Chestnut-sided Warbler.  This one was a first-year male. This bird is obviously not named for its fall plumage.  There was a very small tinge of chestnut on its sides but that may not be quite visible in this photo.  

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We also recaptured a Worm-eating Warbler that we banded two weeks ago.  At that time it had very little fat; upon recapture it was full and looked ready to move on.  

Tuesday brought the return of the Ovenbirds.  Of the 6 we banded on Monday we recaptured 4 of them. We recaptured a Northern Cardinal that was banded a few weeks ago.  It was born this summer and is almost finished molting in its fresh plumage.  You can still see some symmetric molt on the tail and one of the wing feathers growing in (see the gap?).  

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Georgia Binderow

We also recaptured a bird from last August.  Typically we never see Brown Thrashers on the property.  Last year in August I had just said that when one made it into the net.  Today we recaptured that bird.  Last year the bird was still molting; this time its plumage was quite fresh.  

Brown Thrasher
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

One of the new Ovenbirds from today was born this past summer.  We tell this by the lighter tips on some of the wing feathers.  

Ovenbird
Photo by Georgia Binderow

We also captured a Worm-eating Warbler today.  You might call this revenge of the birds.  I'm glad it wasn't the cardinal!!

Worm-eating Warbler (Bander-eating Warbler)
Photo by Georgia Binderow

The next few weeks should also be productive.
Next scheduled session Tuesday, October 7. 2014.  Nets open at 6:45.  Hope to see you!




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 22 & 23, 2014

Well, I didn't believe that history would repeat itself but it did - twice.  We did an impromptu banding yesterday and banded one bird - another Swainson's Warbler!!  There were quite a few migrants around so we had high hopes for today's regular session.

Swainson's Warbler
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Today we caught the third Swainson's Warbler this fall; you'd think they were a common bird. Actually the timing is right and the weather has caused a lot of birds to stop here instead of flying right through.  We have been fortunate that we have dodged the rain these past few weeks.  There has certainly been a lot of it.

 Swainson's Warblers
Photo by Jane Wiewora

photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We also captured two Worm-eating Warblers today.  Though they are superficially similar, this composite shows the striping differences of these two warblers. 

Top- Swainson's Warbler
Bottom - Worm-eating Warbler
Photo by Jane Wiewora

There were quite a few migrants on the property the past two days including Common Yellowthroats, Summer Tanagers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, American Redstarts, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a Merlin.

We caught the first thrush of the season and hope for at least a few more.  Today's thrush was a Veery.  It is identified by its overall reddish color on the back and the wash through the spots.  This species was also banded almost exactly 1 year ago!

Veery


Photos by Nancy Price

And last but not least (well maybe in size), we had a Northern Parula today.  This small warbler weighed in at 6 grams!  This lovely close-up shows the tiny amount of red on this bird's chest and also shows the light underside of the bill.  Adult males have a full black and rusty red breast band.  

Northern Parula
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Next regular session will be on September 30.  Nets go up at 6:45.  Hope to see you then.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 15 & 16, 2014

Because we had the time and we were hoping for migrants, we did an extra session this week and it turned out to be a good choice.  On the 15th we banded an American Redstart and an Ovenbird and recaptured a Northern Cardinal.  Hard to be as excited when we compare to last week's bonanza.  We wished that the Red-eyed Vireos, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, or Worm-eating Warbler that were seen on the property had paid a visit to the nets.

The recapture showed us more of the sequence that Northern Cardinals go through from plumage right out of the nest to the first molt in the fall.  Since 9/2/14 when it was originally banded, this bird has been developing more color by molting in more feathers.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

During our regular session on the 16th, our only capture was another hatch-year (HY) Northern Cardinal. (Who would have ever dreamed that I was hoping for a Gray Catbird!)  This one showed unusual tail molt as it was only on one side.  Typically the feathers grow in symmetrically.  Maybe it lost its tail and it is just growing it back in.  

Northern Cardinal with asymmetric tail molt
Photo by Jane Wiewora

As is typical with HY birds, the feathers tend to be tapered rather than blunt.  This tail feather is a very good example of that shape.  (Top view of remaining tail feathers)

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Jane Wiewora

As always many thanks to the volunteers who are there despite the humidity, early hour, and quiet.  Next regular session will be September 23.  Sleep in!  Nets go up at 6:45.  May there be migrants!






Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014 A day of stripes!

The migrants have arrived and they did so in style!  Today was the day of the stripes.  Our first bird in the nets was a Northern Waterthrush, a first for Possum Long, my second ever.  The previous one was at a Painted Bunting location last winter.

Northern Waterthrush
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Our second bird was a record breaker!!  This bird had never been documented in Martin County that we know of.  It is a migrant bird that lurks in thick undergrowth and has probably been through the area before but no one had detected or documented it. It was also a new species for me to band.  

Swainson's Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

You can see the difference from the above Northern Waterthrush (no streaks) and if you look at Worm-eating Warbler below you can see the rusty cap (Swainson's) instead of the multiple stripes (Worm-eating).  The Swainson's Warbler's bill is also larger.  I love its tiny feet.  

Worm-eating Warbler (from another session)
Photo by Georgia Binderow

Swainson's Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

The next stripes of the day were those of the Ovenbird, our first and second of the season.  See the stripes?


Ovenbirds
Both photos by Georgia Binderow

Last but not least, we caught a very young Northern Cardinal.  Its bill is still dark and its crest isn't fully developed.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

One of the things that a bander can look at to age a new, young bird is evidence that all of the tail feathers grew in at the same time.  An adult molts its feathers in a symmetric sequence, not all at the same time.  When the young bird is being fed, there are different colors deposited in the tail as food type and abundance varies.  Sometimes we can see these bands of color and if they are lined up, it means the feathers grew in together.  This photo was enhanced to show the faint bands on the tail that we can see when we hold the feathers up to the light.  See if you can see bands near the upper center - hopefully the photo isn't too small.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We had a wonderful session.  Migration should bring us more delights for the next few weeks.  Hope you can join us at the station or here on the blog.

Next session, September 16.  Nets go up at 6:30 am.