Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017 - Numbers after the Spring season

Well, we have had a great spring season and a wonderful banding experience since we first opened in the fall of 2012.  Two projects, many more than outstanding helpers, great hosts, and many new friends.  Oh, and the birds......

Since the beginning we have banded 3023 birds.  We have banded 70 species.  Now remember there is overlap for the two programs so here are the individual results:

Possum Long:  Banded 56 species.  Some of these were county records and some were one of a kind!  We banded a total of 1076 birds.  The most common species is Gray Catbird although recent numbers are lower than earlier years.

Painted Buntings Seasons 1-4:  Surprise, our most common species is Painted Bunting with a grand total of 1261 (38 of these at Possum Long).  We have banded 46 incidental species and the most common of those was Indigo Bunting.  The incidental count is 686.

Spring was a joy with Blackpoll Warblers banded (seen prior years but first to be banded) and documenting and banding 4 Connecticut Warblers.  They were new to the property and likely would have gone undetected without the banding.  We banded more American Redstarts than most of the other years combined; 56 this spring alone.

Our Painted Bunting news is that another one of our banded birds has been seen on their breeding grounds.  A bird we banded in Wellington, FL on March 20 was seen at a feeder in Statesboro, GA on May 29.  It was banded as a young green bird so hopefully the person with the feeder will see it molt or we may refind it in Wellington and see if it is male or female.  Many thanks to Nancy Price who saw the bands in a photograph posted on a site on Facebook!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 16, 2017

Once again winds shifted and were coming from the east.  Late migrants are practically finished and I hope they are mostly to their breeding grounds and have successful nesting.  We observed a few redstarts at Possum Long on Tuesday and we banded 2 new birds.  One Ovenbird and one Common Yellowthroat managed to find the nets.


Common Yellowthroat

Thus ends the Spring 2017 banding at Possum Long.  My thanks to all readers who keep in touch.  My overwhelming appreciation to the volunteers who make this research possible.  We will resume banding some time in August.  I will post dates on an entry here.  For some reason this blog tells me I have 1 follower but I know more of you do get email reminders when I post.  If you have not signed up for that, you might consider doing so.  

I will soon post the results since the start of 2017 and some overall numbers.  I find numbers to be quite amazing and I hope you, my readers do too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 12 and 14, 2017 - Three of a Kind - a winning hand!

Following the success of last week, we decided to try an extra session on Friday.  There were a few remnant (hungry?) warblers around.  We saw Blackpoll Warblers and caught 2 American Redstarts and a Northern Waterthrush.  This has certainly been more redstarts and waterthrushes than ever before.

Northern Waterthrush
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Sunday, although it was Mother's Day, we were thinking of banding.  The forecast was for a little bit of rain in the early morning and then winds from the west.  Usually one needs these winds overnight but we decided to at least listen at the property.  There seemed to be a lot of redstarts present so we set up a few nets.  First capture was another Northern Waterthrush.  Then came the redstarts.  Then another big surprise - our second ever Connecticut Warbler.  

Connecticut Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Birds were present, we saw a Cape May Warbler.  Then we caught ANOTHER Connecticut Warbler. If you read the entry from May 7 you know how unbelievable this really was.

Connecticut Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Not long after, the third Connecticut Warbler.  Stunningly shocked!  It was a very well marked male.

Connecticut Warbler

Connecticut Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We ended up with two Great Crested Flycatchers who likely have finished with their nesting.

Great Crested Flycatcher

In total we banded 5 American Redstarts, 1 Northern Waterthrush, 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 2 Common Yellowthroats, 3 Connecticut Warblers, and 2 Great Crested Flycatchers.  An awesome day.

American Redstart
After second year male

Common Yellowthroat female

The next session at Possum Long will be on May 16.  Nets go up at 6:15.  There may be a few lingering migrants.  Bring bug spray if you are bothered but keep in mind it is not good for the nets or the birds.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017

Weather conditions once again turned favorable for birds to keep flying over us on their journey north.  There were still a few migrants around but numbers were much lower.  There were no longer 50 American Redstarts, more like 6-10.  Birds that were still present may have been resting or had stopped for more fuel.  In addition to the species banded we did see a few Blackpoll Warblers.

We banded 7 birds and said our good-byes to some more of our own helpers who will be heading north.  Linda and George brought refreshments and we wished Pete well on his journey to help at another banding station.

The seven birds newly banded were 3 American Redstarts, and one each of Swainson's Thrush, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Ovenbird.


Swainson's Thrush

American Redstart (young male)

I will be checking the weather and the property to see what birds are around.  Likely we will do one more session on May 16.  If so, nets will go up at 6:30.  If not, I will change this announcement or post a new one.  Once summer and our break is underway, watch for a posting with results since our last update in December.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 2, 5, 6, and 7: Banders wait for days like this!

Tuesday, May 2, was our regular Possum Long banding session.  As I stated in the last blog one hopes for certain weather in order to see and catch migrants here in Florida.  That didn't happen on Tuesday so we banded just 2 Ovenbirds. As always, the group is terrific and we had fun watching and hoping.

Photo by Roy Netherton

On the evening of May 4, there was a thunderstorm and prolonged rain.  This tends to make birds stop migrating and to look for safe haven.  Thursday morning I headed out to Possum Long even though my team, except Pete for 1/2 hour, wasn't available.  I set up and then stopped for a while due to rain but from 11 am until Bill joined me after work I banded.  I only ran 2 nets but we ended up with a total of 23 banded birds! There were American Redstarts everywhere.  I estimated 50 on the property. We banded 15 American Redstarts, 1 Ovenbird, 3 Common Yellowthroats, 3 Black-throated Blue Warblers, and a Blue Jay.

I think this is one of the most unusual things I have found in a net.  We have had dragonflies, cicadas, and more in the nets and back when I was training an American Kestrel dropped a mouse that it had caught but I never expected.......

....... a peanut.  I had just banded the Blue Jay and went back to adjust the net and found what it had left behind.  I guess it lost the snack for the day.

American Redstart (adult male)

American Redstart - young male with black face patches

Many of the redstarts were young birds, as is the young male above, and the young bird below.  It looks like this bird may not have had adequate food in the nest.  It will keep these flimsy feathers until the next molt in the fall.  Otherwise the bird was very healthy with a good store of fat and a lot of energy.  It had no trouble flying.

American Redstart with deformed tail

So, overnight the winds shifted to the NW.  This is another factor in Florida that makes birds land during migration.  It is on days like this that we can hope for a lot of birds.

And boy did we get it!!!  We set an all time record for banding at Possum Long.  We banded 49 birds. The only higher day was during a Painted Bunting session when we banded 50 birds (3/21/14 - Season 1 Painted Buntings).   Once again there were a lot of American Redstarts but also some new additions.  We banded 28 American Redstarts, 1 Northern Parula, 4 Common Yellowthroats, 8 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 5 Ovenbirds, 1 Swainson's Thrush and 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Common Yellowthroat (young male)

Swainson's Thrush

Red-bellied Woodpecker


Black-throated Blue Warbler
Appalachian race

Winds continued from the NW on May 7 so we opted for extra session number 3.  Early on the crows were mobbing something.  We have 3 types of raptors on the property with fledged young.  We guessed one was near our nets.  Then a thud.  We found a young Osprey on the ground.  It did not move away as we looked so we called Martin County Animal Control.  An officer came out and at first assessed and observed the bird.  It could move its wings so the next step was to get the bird out in the open.  It finally flew off on its own.  

juvenile Osprey

After the Osprey rescue we processed 25 birds.  American Redstart numbers had dropped but throughout the day the Blackpoll Warbler numbers seemed to grow.  We banded 10 American Redstarts, 4 Ovenbirds, 6 Black-throated Blue Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat and 4 other birds (suspense).  

One was a Northern Waterthrush which we get only 1 or 2 a season so it was a welcome surprise.

Northern Waterthrush
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Blackpoll Warblers (and Cape May Warblers) are so frustrating as they feed high in our tall trees. Other places where the trees are shorter they can sometimes be seen lower and would be more able to find their way into a net but not at Possum Long.  Well, today was a first - the first Blackpoll Warblers banded at Possum Long. Two of them - both females.  

Blackpoll Warbler - male  (not banded)
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Blackpoll Warbler - female - one of two banded
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

So, was that enough excitement for today?  Nope, not even close.  Today we also had another new bird for the property; one I had never seen in the county and had never banded before.

CONNECTICUT WARBLER!!  This species travels through Florida very quickly and is hard to locate.  Bill and I have seen this bird in several other states and a few times in Florida.  Such a treat to see and evaluate in hand.

Connecticut Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Winds are predicted to return to blowing in from the south.  This is ideal weather for the migrants so we wish them well on their journey to breeding territories.  

The next regularly scheduled banding at Possum Long will be Tuesday, May 9.  Nets go up at 6:30. Winds may be back to blowing from the west!

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 25, 2017 and a few more

April 25 will likely go down in the record books for numbers of birds.  Winds favorable for seeing migrants finally arrived and I was out of town!  Permit holder Pete Grannis with support from Jim and Roy banded a total of 24 birds:  12 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 3 Ovenbirds, 2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes, an Indigo Bunting, a Common Yellowthroat, a Veery, a Swainson's Thrush, a Gray Catbird, an American Redstart, and a Black-and-white Warbler.  My thanks to this crew who made it possible to not miss this wave of birds.  There might be more western winds later this week and we will be out there Tuesday or not!

Indigo Bunting
Photo by Pete Grannis

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Photo by Pete Grannis

Photo by Pete Grannis

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo by Roy Netherton

Gray-cheeked Thrush
Photo by Roy Netherton

Our other permit holder, Bill LaFramboise, ran two sessions (April 22 and April 28) even though winds were not as favorable.  Several Northern Cardinals were banded as was a Gray Catbird and our final Painted Bunting.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Painted Bunting (SY)
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

So, there should be a few more sessions at Possum Long and then we will break for the summer and see you all again sometime in August.  A future post will let you know when.

Next Possum Long Session will be on Tuesday, May 2.  Nets open at 6:45.  Remember pouring rain will delay or cancel a session.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 8, 10, 11, 12, and 14, 2017

We have been going full speed ahead in hopes of getting a few migrant Painted Buntings as they pass through.  We have 6 more banding sessions to report plus an article that could prove to be interesting to our study.

On April 8 we visited a new site, PB 72.  Five Painted Buntings had been reported and we caught five only to see at least one more unbanded.  With a few changes this site will be a place to return to next fall.  Incidental captures included 2 Brown-headed Cowbirds, 2 Northern Cardinals, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Pine Warbler, a Blue Jay, 2 Red-winged Blackbirds, 3 Common Grackles, and a Mourning Dove.

Pine Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

This Painted Bunting was quite red and we had been told that this indicates an older female. However this one was just born last summer as told by covert feathers.  So, definitely unknown sex on this green one!  Painted Bunting colors are not reliable for aging and sexing until males show their full colors.

young Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On April 10 we made a quick trip back to DuPuis where we banded 2 more new Painted Buntings, had several recaptures , and banded 2 more Indigo Buntings.

On April 11, we had our regular Possum Long Banding station session.  We banded a new Gray Catbird and recaptured 3 Painted Buntings.  One was from this season but two were from older seasons and that gives us such good return data.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On April 12 we returned to PB 2 where the host reported a flock of buntings that had passed through her yard and may have stayed.  We banded 6 new Painted Buntings.

Bill checking for fat to assess readiness to migrate
Photo by Linda Wishney

On April 14 we returned to PB 1 where it all started!  The host reported at least 12 unbanded birds and we banded 21.  (No I did not transpose these numbers!).  We also had incidental captures of a Northern Cardinal and two Mourning Doves.  One of the doves was recently born - our first hatch-year bird of the season.

Painted Bunting with blue head feather
Any lost feather can be replaced with any color

wing of young Mourning Dove
note scalloped edging - those white tips will wear off as the bird ages
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Our next regularly scheduled Possum Long session will be Tuesday, April 18.  Nets go up at 6:45. When winds kept migrants from landing last year, this week and the next one were the best of the season.  We can hope.  Remember that when birds fly right over us, it is good for them but makes for quiet days for us.

And the article (link below):  I was sent this link and while it is a sad reminder that illegal trapping of our beautiful birds still occurs, it may reveal one of our banded birds.  I have contacted FWC in hopes of finding out if the banded bird mentioned could be one of our Painted Buntings.  I will update on this blog.

I also received a note from a Painted Bunting location (hope to band there some day).  She reported a single color band on a bird which is  not what we or any other permitted bander does.  It appears that possibly someone caught a bird and applied a band meant for caged birds.  Whether or not this bird was caged, we will never know.  It is really important that education happen to protect our native birds and to keep them from becoming pets.