Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February 13, 2018

It was great to get together to launch the spring banding season.  We welcomed visitors and enjoyed catching up.  We had predicted today would be quiet as far as captures go but we were pleasantly surprised with the birds on the property.  There were several Summer Tanagers as well as the usual winter birds.

Newspaper photographer Hobie Hiler came to see the operation of the banding station and luckily we did have a few captures.  First we recaptured a Gray Catbird that was banded last October.  It likely spent the winter on the property or somewhere nearby.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We then got a female Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Looking at the upper tail feathers and the white spots on the tail as well as other features we determined it to be an adult bird.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also recaptured an Ovenbird banded last October.  Harder to say whether this one over-wintered or is passing back through.

Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Lastly was our second new bird of the day.  Another Gray Catbird but this one got a new band.

The following weeks should improve and soon we will be in the midst of spring migration.  We are still banding Painted Buntings and we will keep updating here.

Next scheduled banding at Possum Long will be February 20.  Nets go up at 6:45.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

January 26 & February 7; February 6

Since the last post we have made 2 visits to PB 73 where we had loaned the host a caged feeder.  (Nets were unproductive on our first visit.)  It took a while for the buntings to trust the feeder but it was worth the wait.  We banded a total of 11 Painted Buntings, plus an incidental Common Grackle, 1 Red-winged Blackbird, and 2 Northern Cardinals. 

Common Grackle
Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman

Painted Bunting (male with some yellow coloring on the undertail)
Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman

Red-winged Blackbird
Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman

The Red-winged Blackbird was a female with a lot of reddish coloring on the face and throat.  This indicates it is likely an older female.  Other data supported the adult classification.  

Many thanks to this gracious and dedicated host.

Red-winged Blackbird
Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman

On February 6 we returned to PB 67 just about a week later than when we went last year.  This yard and host is  a joy to visit - birds and enthusiasm.  Being 2 hours north gave us a little different variety.  Last year we caught our only Tufted Titmouse here.  Within seconds of putting up the nets we caught number 2.  

Tufted Titmouse
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

The rest of the day was consistently busy.  We beat last year's 21 birds by banding 22 plus we recaptured 2 from last year.  

young Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

This particular bunting had undertail coverts with darker centers.  

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

In addition to the titmouse we had 12 additional incidentals.  Eight Northern Cardinals kept us watching out for our fingers.  A Common Grackle, 2 Blue Jays, and the surprise of the day rounded out the captures.

Our host had told us he had a different sparrow so we were hopeful that it would be caught.  It turned out to be a White-crowned Sparrow - a bird I had studied in Washington as part of a site fidelity study.  This was a different subspecies but it was nice to have "in-hand" again.  This subspecies has a dark lore (the area between the beak and eye) while the one in WA has no black there.  This is an immature bird as told by the reddish brown and tan crown stripes but it is starting to fill in the black and white stripes of adulthood.  

White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We are starting our "spring" banding at Possum Long on Tuesday, February 13.  Net go up at 7 am.  Regular sessions will continue on Tuesdays.  We will see what shows up this early (likely still "winter" birds) but we can hope migrants appear soon.

Friday, January 19, 2018

January 15 & 16, 2018

We spent a marvelous two sessions with Painted Bunting hosts on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday's host (PB 74) is new to our project and is hosting quite a few birds.  She has been feeding buntings since 2009.  We banded 14 at her site.

male Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

green (female or young male) Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also captured a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Woodpeckers can retain several generations of feathers over the first 3 years of life which allows specific aging to the first, second, and third year and then as older than three.  This one shows young feathers retained on its wing (red arrow).

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On Tuesday we returned to PB 60 and there we banded 17 new Painted Buntings as well as recapturing 13 more.  The data from the recaptures is great to have.  One of the recaptures was from 2 years ago.  It was banded as a male so is now at least 4 years old.  Pete asked who had banded that one and it turned out that he had!  It was a nice reunion.

Pete Grannis with a bird he had banded 2 years ago.  

We also banded an Ovenbird, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 3 Northern Cardinals, and a Gray Catbird.  We also recaptured an Indigo Bunting we had banded there the previous year.

Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

recaptured Indigo Bunting getting a bit of revenge
Photo by Pete Grannis

For those of you who have been following Pete's slo-mo videos, here's one of his latest of the release of a green Painted Bunting.  Enjoy!

video by Pete Grannis

If all goes well and weather cooperates, we hope to be back at the Possum Long Banding Station on February 13.  In the meantime we will be at more Painted Bunting locations and will update here.

Painted Bunting Season 5 total:  111

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 5, 7, and 8, 2018

Welcome 2018!  The Painted Bunting season is still underway and we have more appointments.  Possum Long will begin again in February - watch here for updates.

We banded at PB 1 on January 5.  We banded 4 new Painted Buntings and recaptured 3.  Remember recapture data tells us a lot about plumage, age, and survival.

We could have had an interesting capture but unfortunately we did not catch the bird.  PB 1 was hosting a Dickcissel for a few days.  The bird even entered the trap but did not set off the treadle.  Seeing it and photographing it has to suffice.

Dickcissel at PB1

On January 7 we ventured to a new host site, PB 73, where we saw buntings but were unable to catch any.  The yard configuration, wind, and lighting alerted the buntings to the net.  We have provided this site with a temporary caged feeder in the hopes that they will use that and we can trap there.  In the meantime, several other species hit the nets.  We banded 3 House Sparrows, 2 Red-winged Blackbirds, and a Palm Warbler.  

House Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

This male's throat will become much more black not by molting but by wear.  You can see some black under the white at the bottom center of this photo.  The white wears off, revealing the full black throat.

Red-winged Blackbird
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Palm Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On January 8 we returned to PB 2.  We had hoped to visit earlier but the weather has been uncooperative to say the least.  We managed to band 5 new Painted Buntings and recapture 1 from a previous year before it rained.  We hope to return later on to band more of the unbanded birds that are there.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

If all goes well and weather cooperates, we hope to be back at the Possum Long Banding Station on February 13.  In the meantime we will be at more Painted Bunting locations and will update here.

Painted Bunting Season 5 total:  80

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5, 2017

Possum Long held some excitement for us today but not in the form of a bird we could band.  We did band 1 new Gray Catbird and recaptured a Painted Bunting and another Gray Catbird so you could say it was slow.

The excitement made up for that!

One of the first net runs there was something BIG in the net.  As usual I started to curse the squirrels.  Last time I did that the "squirrel" was a Chuck-will's-widow!  This time it was..............

....... a Cooper's Hawk.  I can reassure you that though the photo is dramatic and may be upsetting, the bird was extracted fairly easily and it flew off just fine (see video to follow).  We used a cloth bag to cover the bird's head while we untangled its claws.  This kept the bird calm and kept us uninjured.  The permit we operate under does not allow for the banding of raptors (hawks, eagles, and falcons).  So we released it unbanded.  Pete took another slo-mo video.

This Cooper's Hawk is a young bird.  It will eventually develop a reddish color on the chest.  Typically this kind of hawk hunts birds but this one dropped a rodent near the net.  

release of Cooper's Hawk
video by Pete Grannis

So, thus ends banding at Possum Long for 2017.  We will recommence at a later date.  Watch this blog for updates.  Painted Bunting banding sessions will continue to be posted here.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

November 28, December 2 & 3, 2017

Our regular Possum Long Banding session was mostly a recapture day with only 2 new birds.  We recaptured a Gray Catbird from November 11, 2014.  It was still in great shape after having made a few trips since it was originally banded.  Pete took a slo-mo movie which I am attempting to add.

releasing a Gray Catbird
Video by Pete Grannis

We also recaptured and banded Painted Buntings.  Our recapture data is looking very good and adding one more at Possum Long has given us 17 there this season.  

The other new bird banded was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - so tiny.  It weighed only 6 grams which is just a tad more than a nickel weighs.  (Painted Buntings average 15 grams)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Sincere thanks go out to Nancy Price and Pat Marshall who hung all of our nets that were not in use and inspected them for holes.  Nets age or get snagged in plants and other things.  Sometimes for a bird's safety we need to cut a strand or two.  Net repair can be tedious but having these marked will make the job much easier.  I appreciate their hard work.

Quite a few years ago, PB 27 hosted Dr. Rotenburg (NC summer Painted Buntings Project leader - PBOT)  when he was in Florida to see a NC bird she had at her feeders.  Then we began our winter study.  Now she has hosted us quite a few times.  This site has a long Painted Bunitng history.  Saturday we returned to PB 27.  We banded 16 birds - 15 were green (10 born this past summer, 5 female) and 1 male.  We noted a few more males and recaptured one but there is an abundance of greens at PB 27 right now.  

Painted Buntings at PB 27 (new green and recaptured male)
Photos by Bill LaFrambosie

The recaptured male bird had a very faded red band.  We replaced it with a new one but you can see how brown the faded one looks.

Sunday we returned to PB 46.  We banded 7 new Painted Buntings and all of them were birds born this past summer.  We did see male birds though.  We also caught a new Blue Jay.  It was also born this past summer.  

Blue Jay

Our last Possum Long session for 2017 will be Tuesday, December 5.  Nets go up at 6:30.  We will announce our return to Possum Long after the holidays.  Until the, keep a watch here for more Painted Buntings Season 5 reports.  

Painted Bunting total so far:  70!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 21, 2017 Session cancelled due to rain

This session is cancelled due to rain.  See you next week.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Wild Turkey
not taken at Possum Long