Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Summer 2018 - posted August 15, 2018

Dear blog followers,

It has been a while since a post and I hope you are all still following.  Soon I will do at least EIGHT more posts with banding/sighting reports that have happened over the late spring and summer of 2018.  After I get data entry finished there will also be a summary report.  We banded 355 Painted Buntings in Season 5 for a grand total of 1616.  Of course there were incidental birds too. 

Painted Bunting (male) at Fort DeSoto
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Until then let's start with more recent news.  Painted Buntings are back!  The PB host in Kissimmee reported a bird molting from green to male on August 5.  It is banded and contributes a lot of info for our project.  The site in Jupiter also has a returning bunting.  Keep an eye out!  Likely there will be more reports soon.  Prior to our study these August reports were pretty much not heard about.  With the advent of eBird and our hosts, we now know this is completely normal.  It likely was always true, just unnoticed.

banded Painted Buntings at DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Area
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Many of you now know that we will not be banding Painted Buntings any longer.  There are still sites on the east coast that do though.  The study can actually continue if you will still report band sightings.    I STILL WANT SIGHTINGS!!  They can be sent to     Also, if you see banded Painted Buntings on any other media, please send the link.  Some of those eight catch-up entries will report some interesting findings from Facebook and other sightings.

banded Painted Bunting at DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Area
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

We have moved to Washington state.  We will continue banding but not Painted Buntings.  So, here is my request:  I'd like to continue the blog but I need to know what you would be interested in reading.  We will be traveling more and I could add bird reports.  I am still trying to learn butterflies and could add a few.  Or I can just continue a banding blog with our western projects.  Your opinion is important to me.  Please sent an email with your input on what you'd like to read.  ( 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

April 24, 29 and May 1, 7, and 8, 2018

To say we have been busy is an understatement.  We have had 5 sessions since our last report.  Migration is such a great time to be birding and banding.  Winds and rain are a key to having many of the migrants stop for refueling, otherwise they pass right over.  There are always a few who just run out of fuel and they too will feed in places like Possum Long.  We got a few times when conditions were good so we set up when that happened as well as our scheduled Tuesdays. 

We banded a total of 77 birds in these last 5 sessions.  Only one was quite notable but more on that later.  The other 76 were typical and expected Caribbean migrants.  It's always a pleasure to see these migrants and to learn what we can about them.

The warblers we banded were 1 Northern Parula, 12 American Redstarts, 24 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 10 Common Yellowthroats, 6 Black-and-white Warblers, 14 Ovenbirds, and 4 Northern Waterthrushes, (and 1 more).    We also banded 3 Gray Catbirds and 2 Northern Cardinals.

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Common Yellowthroat
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Northern Waterthrush
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Photo by Bill LaFramboise

The bird of note was a Connecticut Warbler.  Seeing this bird in the wild is very challenging.  They are very secretive as they pass through.  Typically winds from the west are required to drop these birds in our area.  West winds were not very strong or long but we decided to band on a Monday, May 7, because of them.  Exactly one year ago from then was the first time we ever banded this species.  Many people never see this bird.  It was never noted on the property without it being caught for banding.

Connecticut Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We may be banding on Tuesday May 15 or any day that weather may drop birds.  Nets would go up at 6:30.  If there are no other sessions, we will do a total update on numbers once the data are compiled. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 16 and 17, 2018

With weather looking to change on Sunday, we decided to band on Monday as well as our usual Tuesday.  On April 16 it wasn't as birdy as we expected.  We banded 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 1 Ovenbird, and 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We did see a few migrants including a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  Unfortunately the property lost a lot of flowers during the hurricane so fruit is in short supply.  Birds stayed very high.  It was fun to see a banded Great Crested Flycatcher that returned.  We haven't banded one this spring so we know it has returned for this breeding season.

The weather held true for Tuesday and we did get a few more birds.  Maybe more exciting was what was on the property.  Glad to see these birds that only stay a short time but frustrating to have four species that would have been new to band.  We banded a Northern Parula, an Ovenbird, a Gray Catbird, 3 Black-throated Blue Warblers, and the two highlights:  a Cape May Warbler and our third ever Wood Thrush.

Wood Thrush
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Cape May Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Black-throated Blue Blue warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Though warblers were still present, the migrants seemed to be represented by larger birds.  Seen were Blue and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, and a late Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  What will come next week?

After Monday's session we made an afternoon visit to PB 3.  The host is not far from Possum Long and we were seeing a good interchange of birds.  It is this location that first showed that Painted Buntings can feed at least 1/2 mile away from where they were banded.  We have seen this at two other locations since.  The host reported a bird with bands that did not seem to match anything we had banded.  Though we did not catch that one we banded 2 new Painted Buntings.  Our Season 5 has ended unless we catch another one at Possum Long.  We banded 355 this season which ties our high of Season 4.

Next scheduled banding at Possum Long will be on April 24.  Nets go up at 6:30.

April 10 and 11, 2018

During migration in Florida, seeing and catching birds to band depends on the weather.  It is hard to wish for bad weather as that means birds have a very hard time getting where they need to go.  However, if it is bad, we can take advantage of the situation.

Weather forecast for Monday night was rain with winds coming from the west.  This can be ideal for seeing migrants at Possum Long.  We banded on our regular Tuesday as well as Wednesday.  Though winds stayed a little too strong for ideal capturing, we did manage to band 19 birds on Tuesday.

Very early on we caught a Swainson's Warbler - only our fifth.  These are pretty secretive birds so it is always a pleasure to get one.  This was our first during spring migration, the other four were banded in September or October.

Swainson's Warbler
Photo by Pete Grannis

We also banded a lot of Worm-eating Warblers - our highest day total of this species.  Our highest year total was 5 and we tied that this day.  Although these two species are similar in appearance, in hand one can readily see the different crowns and the much larger bill of the Swainson's.  

Worm-eating Warbler
Photo by Jan Stanard

Twelve species of warblers were seen and 8 of those we banded.  The others banded were 2 Northern Parula, 1 American Redstart, 2 Black-and-white Warblers, 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 2 Ovenbirds, and 1 Palm Warbler.  Others seen were Black-throated Green, Cape May, Prairie and Yellow-throated.  

American Redstart
Photo by Jan Stanard

Northern Parula
Photo by Jan Stanard

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo by Pete Grannis

Pretty much it was a warbler day with the other species banded being 2 Painted Buntings and 2 Gray Catbirds.  We also recaptured 2 Blue Jays, 2 Painted Buntings, and a House Wren.  

Wednesday was less of a warbler day but we did add another species.  We banded a Northern Waterthrush.  We added 3 more Worm-eating Warblers to break the year total.  We banded a total of 11 birds - the above and 1 Painted Bunting, 1 American Redstart, 1 Northern Parula, 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 2 Ovenbirds, and a Blue-headed Vireo.   Thirty birds in two sessions - a really good two day total.

Northern Waterthrush
Photos by Bill LaFramboise

Blue-headed Vireo
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

April 7, 8, and 9, 2018

The end of Painted Bunting Season 5 approaches and we have gone all out to finish it.  Three days of Painted Bunting banding and then Possum Long (next entry). 

On April 7 we went to a new host site, PB76.  We didn't have many new hosts this season but we still did well.  At this site we banded six new Painted Buntings as well as a Northern Cardinal and a Common Grackle.  After leaving, our host sent a photo to show there were still unbanded birds around.  Having unbanded birds is still data as now we know there were really more birds than the host initially reported. 

unbanded Painted Bunting at feeder at new host site
Photo by host

On April 8 we made our last visit back to PB 46.  We have banded so many buntings and other incidental captures here.  It is such a wonderful place to be.  We banded 9 more Painted Buntings and recaptured 3 from past seasons.  One Painted had a very blue cast, the colors have not been enhanced here.  There was also one with a bit of body molt.  You can see how replacing incidentally lost feathers might create some of the odd color patches we see. 

Painted Bunting with odd blue color look to the feathers

Painted Bunting growing in some replacement feathers

Incidental captures included a Prairie Warbler, 5 Indigo Buntings, 3 Northern Cardinals, 1 Gray Catbird, 6 Blue Jays, and a recently fledged Mourning Dove.  You can see the edged feathers on the wing of the dove.

Prairie Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Mourning Dove - hatch year
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On April 9 we returned to PB70 where there was a caged feeder that was new this season.  These large feeders wrapped in 1 x 2 fencing allow us to use traps to capture more.  We banded 13 new Painted Buntings and recaptured 1 from last season.  We also banded an Indigo Bunting, a Northern Parula, and a Northern Cardinal.  We thoroughly enjoyed 7 students who we introduced to our project.  We were impressed with their knowledge, interest, and participation.  

Indigo Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Now on to the finish of Season 5 and migration banding.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

April 4 and 5, 2018 ANOTHER SC!!!

On Wednesday, we returned to PB6 at Dupuis Management Area.  The feeders there were pretty quiet but we did manage to band a new Painted Bunting and recapture 5 more.  This return data is very important to document continued presence and returns to the same location.  We also banded a Northern Cardinal.

Painted Bunting - male
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On Thursday, we returned to PB62.  It had been two years since we had been here so there were many unbanded birds.  In addition, nearby "natural" or vegetated lots had been cleared so maybe they had moved here for shelter and food.  We banded a whopping 34 new Painted Buntings.  We also recaptured 2 from two years ago.  Incidental captures included 6 Northern Cardinals, a Blue Jay. and a remaining Chipping Sparrow.

Blue Jay
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

But the best news of all was a recapture that totally surprised us in so many ways.  In the net we saw color bands but no split band.  If you've been following all along you know that all of the color banded buntings we band have gotten either a split black/white band or a yellow/green one.  It could have just lost the split one but when we looked it up in our data the band number didn't match any of ours.  Yes, another recapture from elsewhere,

recaptured 10 year old Painted Bunting

The new reporting site for banded birds at the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) is now almost instantaneous!  We submitted the band number and got a warning - "caution check data - bird or band is old". Well, the data was fine so we submitted it.

The bird was banded July 1, 2009 near Seabrook Island, SC.  The data said that it was aged to have been hatched in 2008.  We recaptured a ten year old Painted Bunting! He was in very good shape so hopefully he lives on.  Looking at age records determined by banding the oldest Painted Bunting was 12 years old.  The oldest we had recaptured before was 8.  There is a record of one in captivity that was 17 but definitely did not have the same living conditions.

Painted Bunting total to date is 323.  Two or three more sites to go in the next week. 

Next scheduled Possum Long Banding will be on April 10.  Nets go up at sunrise.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

March 24 South Carolina Recapture Information

On March 24, we caught a Painted Bunting that was not one we banded.  It only had a silver band.  Initial information from the Bird Banding Laboratory was that the bird was banded at Kiawah Island Banding Station.  It was banded as a recently fledged young bird on October 29, 2015.

We contacted the bander and got measurements and more details.  It was banded at the far eastern portion of the island at a location they call Little Bear.

This banding station has a great blog with lists of the many birds they band.  We were surprised at the number of Painted Buntings and are a little amazed that we hadn't seen any more of them!

The blog is  Hoping we appear on their blog!