Friday, October 2, 2015

September 30-October 2, 2015 ROAD TRIP!!

Nancy Price, Jane Wiewora, and I took a trip to visit the Jekyll Island Banding Station (JIBS) in Georgia. Jekyll Island is about 5 hours north of us.  We wanted an opportunity to do two things:  see, evaluate, and band species we have yet to experience and to network with another banding team. JIBS has operated for the past 38 years.  They band every day for about a month from late September into October.  They are monitoring fall migration in a coastal scrub environment.

Nets at Jekyll Island Banding Station

We had a wonderful visit to this station and appreciate the folks who made us so welcome.  JIBS is an all volunteer effort under the direction of bander Evan Pitman.  We are thankful that he was willing to share with us and to let us band two exciting birds.  More information on JIBS can be obtained from Evan at  or on their Facebook page 
Donations can be made at this page or by contacting Evan.

Thursday morning was fairly hot and humid.  The station banded 49 birds (9 species) and all of them were familiar to us.  We assisted with extracting the birds from the nets, data recording, and observed station procedures.
Jekyll Island--South Beach, Glynn, Georgia, US
Oct 1, 2015 7:00 AM to noon
9 species
White-eyed Vireo 2 Banded
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Gray Catbird 2
Common Yellowthroat 19
American Redstart 1
Palm Warbler (Western) 14
Prairie Warbler 2Northern Cardinal 7
Painted Bunting 2

We were very pleased to be able to observe a hatch year Painted Bunting as the young birds (male and female) that we get have undergone their first fall molt which makes them the same as older female (green) birds.  This bird was starting its fall molt but still had young browner/grayer juvenile feathers, was molting body feathers, and had yet to grow in its replacement tail.  

Painted Bunting
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Thursday evening there was a change of weather with a hard rain.  Friday was cooler, drier, and overcast.  Species diversity increased and the station caught a total of 87 birds.  Two of them were birds we had not had at Possum Long.  Evan was very generous and allowed me to study and band these two.  I will always remember JIBS as the place where I was able to reach a milestone in my banding experience.

Jekyll Island Banding Station  Jekyll Island--South Beach, Glynn, Georgia, US
Oct 2, 2015 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM

18 species (2 subspecies of Palm Warbler)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 banded
Downy Woodpecker 2 banded
White-eyed Vireo 3 1 banded 2 recap
Red-eyed Vireo 1 banded
House Wren 1 escaped
Carolina Wren 2 banded
Gray Catbird 8
Northern Mockingbird 4 3banded 1 recap
Black-and-white Warbler 1 banded
Common Yellowthroat 44 banded
American Redstart 1 banded
Cape May Warbler 2 banded
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2 banded
Palm Warbler (Western) 7 banded
Palm Warbler (Yellow) 1 banded
Prairie Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 5 4banded 1 recap
Painted Bunting 4 banded
Baltimore Oriole 1 banded

First bird new bird for me was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  My 100th species banded.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Photo by Jane Wiewora

The second bird was a Baltimore Oriole.  

Baltimore Oriole
Photo by Nancy Price

Baltimore Oriole
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We are continuing our study at the Possum Long Banding Station as well as the color banding of Painted Buntings (see pages).  We are also open to more experiences with new birds and locations. I'd like to experience other small birds that we have yet to encounter.  I will be looking for opportunities to explore other birds groups such as shorebirds or possibly gulls or terns.  Who knows?  Keep reading and we will share it all.

Hopefully I can add some more photos soon when we process more images.  Come back soon!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 29, 2015

Today rain threatened us and the air was very muggy.  We got rained out by 10 am.  Despite that we caught another Veery and recaptured an Ovenbird from last week.

Photo by Jane Wiewora

The Veery was a hatch year bird.  This age was partially determined by the white tips on the greater coverts.  Also seen in the photo is one of the feathers that is emarginated - notched, on the upper edge of the primary.  This is indicated by the smaller arrow.  Other feathers are emarginated but this one is easiest to see.

Photo by Jane Wiewora

The Ovenbird had no fat when we captured it last week.  Today it was beginning to show traces of fat.  Fat is a good thing for migrating birds. It is great to be able to document that migrating birds remain on the property in order to build up fat supplies.  That teamed with site fidelity data show how valuable this property is as a stopping place .  Migrants depend on this 4.7 acre property in the middle of suburbia!  May it remain vegetated so that there is food for them.

Photo by Jane Wiewora

Next banding:  October 6.  Nets go up at 6:30 am.

Friday, September 25, 2015

September 21 & 22, 2015

We banded Monday and Tuesday this week and caught 6 birds each day.  At first light the day started out with a bit of chasing - not us looking for a rarity but first we saw a Barred Owl chasing an immature Red-shouldered Hawk.  Then the hawk was mobbed by Blue Jays with some chasing by the hawk.  Soon after a squirrel chased the hawk away.  Maybe that one should have been the other way around??

immature Red-shouldered Hawk
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Soon we had birds.  We caught a total of 3 Ovenbirds, a Blue Jay, and a Worm-eating Warbler.

Worm-eating Warbler
Photo b Nancy LaFramboise

The sixth bird was a Red-bellied Woodpecker and it was a hatch year bird.  The red on the nape was just coming in.  Adult males have full  red at the back of the head from the bill to the nape; females have more limited red from the back of the head to the nape.  Hopefully you can see the ends of the new red feathers and see the sheaths that cover newly growing feathers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (back of head)
Photo by Nancy Price.

On Tuesday we also caught six birds - 4 Ovenbirds, another Blue Jay, and most exciting was a Veery; the first thrush of the season.  This bird had a good load of fat and no doubt will be on its way soon.

Photo by Jane Wiewora

We also recaptured a White-eyed Vireo which was originally banded as a hatch year bird on September 23. 2013.  It was recapured a little more than a year later on October 21, 2014.  This kind of site fidelity is one of the things we are documenting as part of the banding project.

White-eyed Vireo
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Though I don't understand the need to plant cactus at the Possum Long property, it was quite beautiful to see one of the large ones blooming.  

Next banding session:  September 29.  Nets go up at 6:30 am.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September 15, 2015 OVEN-8

Today we got more numbers but less diversity.  We banded 8 Ovenbirds (banding code OVEN) and a Blue Jay.  All 9 birds were born this last nesting season.  There were a few migrants on the property that did not go into the nets but that's the norm.

Last week the first Common Nighthawk for the property was observed.

Ovenbird (and Eddie our mascot on the banding box)
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Many thanks to Jane for all of the photos.  Since we had been negligent about getting photos she got pictures of most of the Ovenbirds.  Problem is they are all alike.  These two photos really tell it all.

Aging the Ovenbirds
Photo by Jane Wiewora

The yellow arrows above indicate lighter tipped coverts that indicate that the birds are both hatch-year (born this past summer).

Jane pointed out some more really great close-ups of our Ovenbirds from her set.  I couldn't resist adding them:  (added 9/17)  In the first photo you can see the bristles near the bill that trigger the bird to open its bill.  This is used when they are foraging in the leaves and come across a tasty treat.

Photos by Jane Wiewora

The Blue Jay was also a youngster and a sassy one at that.  The bander is receiving its opinion of  being banded.  In the second photo the arrow indicates the remaining young feathers indicating that this is a young bird.

Blue Jays
Photos by Jane Wiewora

We were going to attempt banding the next day but we were rained out.  Call us persistent/dedicated/crazy but we went anyway and eventually took down the poles we had left up.  

Next banding session:  September 22.  Nets go up between 6 and 6:30.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 8, 2015 Finally four!

After banding on Monday at a Painted Bunting site (see Painted Buntings - Season 3 in the Pages section) and only getting Northern Cardinals I just had to wonder if we would catch something other than cardinals.  Migrants were showing up in larger numbers but sometimes they are hard to catch. We ended up with 4 birds and 4 species banded.

First up was an American Redstart.  It was somewhat camera shy but at least we got a photo!  The true colors aren't well represented in the early morning light but you can see the lighter tail "starts" and some color in the underwing.  In real life these were yellow and this bird was aged and sexed as an adult female.

American Redstart
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Next up was an Ovenbird.  At first we had only detected these 2 warbler species so it was great to have them in the net. The Ovenbird was born this past summer.  The light tips on the wing coverts indicate this.  All birds should have tiny arrows to show these key features!

Photo by Jane Wiewora

We had a bit of a wait but soon we had a Black-throated Blue Warbler.  This bird was aged/sexed as a young male based on the colors and the fact that the black throat had some white speckles instead of being solid black.

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Lastly we caught a Worm-eating Warbler.  I don't think I can ever again think of this species without remembering a typo I saw that labeled one as a Work-eating Warbler.  So fun to imagine!!  This bird cannot be sexed but was aged as an adult bird.  

Worm-eating Warbler
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Also on the property were 2 Summer Tanagers, 1 Scarlet Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and a Great Crested Flycatcher.  Come on migrants!

I expect that the next few weeks will bring us more migrants.  Come visit.  Nets go up early and most birds are caught pretty early but come when you can.  

Next session:  September 15.  Nets go up at 6:30.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015 Ditto

Well today much like last week we caught 3 Northern Cardinals.  Unlike last week we did not manage to take even one photo.

The cardinals were all hatch-year birds; born this summer.  All of them were in the same net at the same time.  One appeared to be a bit older and it was actually one of the ones we banded last week. The other two were quite young.  They were molting body, tail, and wing feathers but not many yet. At one point Nancy Price was holding one in each hand - a hard thing to do and not get bitten.

Just to have a photo I am showing this Painted Bunting that returned to one of our banding locations. All of this season's adventures and more information on these birds are on the Page called Painted Buntings - Season 3.  (Look near the upper right)  Can you see the bands?  This one is dark blue over yellow on the right.  I have also made a new page called Encouraging Painted Buntings as we get requests for this a lot.  On the page is a copy of a handout we use at talks and plans for an enclosed bunting feeder that Painteds really like.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Vicki Rogerson

Next banding will be Tuesday, September 8.  Nets go up at 6:30 am.  Weather permitting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015 Red Letter (Bird?) Day

It really should have started with a parade and some fanfare but alas, it was actually 3 people with headlamps setting up nets.  Today was opening session for our fourth fall banding season.

We did not expect a lot today as migrants are just starting to move through in small numbers.  We did have a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on the property today but the rest were typical residents.

The fun was the presence of young birds born this spring/summer.  We captured three Northern Cardinals today - an adult female and 2 young males.  All three had new feathers growing in.  Can you spot the feather still in sheath?

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Jane Wiewora

Next banding session:  Tuesday, September 1.  Nets go up around 6:30 am.  Remember this is weather dependent - rain cancels banding.