Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 15, 19, 20, and 21, 2017

Wow!  It has been a busy week.  We went to 2 past Painted Bunting sites and a new one.  We did an impromptu session at Possum Long in addition to this week's regularly scheduled Possum Long banding.

On February 15, we actually went to 2 Painted Bunting sites that are on the same street.  We caught 2 at one location and recaptured 1 at the other.  High winds were a problem so we are glad we caught what we did.  We also banded a Northern Cardinal with a broken beak.  Other than the beak problem, the bird appeared to be fine and healthy.  It is managing!  We also had two House Sparrows.

Painted Bunting - male

Northern Cardinal with broken beak

On February 19, we banded at Possum Long and made up a little for the recent low number of buntings banded. We banded 3 Painted Buntings and a Downy Woodpecker.  We also recaptured an Ovenbird and a Northern Cardinal.

Painted Bunting

Downy Woodpecker

One fun non-bird observation was our resident Gopher Tortoise chomping on the grass in one of our lanes where we put up our net!  Always fun to see a Gopher Tortoise!

Gopher Tortoise

On February 20, we went to a new site where 5 buntings had been reported.  This site is close to another one and we are hoping to see if there are any visitations back and forth.  We banded 3 greens (a female and 2 young birds) and almost caught the one reported male.  Now the hosts at this site can observe their feeder to see if they may actually have more unbanded birds or if they see banded birds from the nearby site.  We will likely return here.

Our regularly occurring session at Possum Long brought us visitors.  We had a home school group visit to learn about bird banding.   We were able to show them some of the birds we caught today.  We banded a new Northern Parula and Gray Catbird.

Northern Parula
Photo by Linda Wishney

We also had a few recaptures.  One was a Yellow-rumped Warbler that was originally banded on December 1, 2015.  At that time we determined it was an adult male.  That means the bird is at least 3 years old and possibly older.  The other recaptured birds were recently banded but had remained on the property.  

Next regularly scheduled banding at Possum Long will be on Tuesday, February 28.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017

We had a pretty terrific opening day considering that migration, if it is underway, is just starting.  The day started out with the best bird of the day (see later) and a Northern Cardinal recapture.  All together we banded 9 new birds and 4 of those were all at once.  We also recaptured another Northern Cardinal. There were three types of warblers banded: Yellow-rumped, Palm, and Northern Parula.  In addition there were 2 Black-and-white Warblers seen.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Roy Netherton

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Fun to see the green back up close.

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

We also banded a few of the larger birds:  1 Blue Jay, 1 Northern Cardinal, and 2 Gray Catbirds.

Our highlight was a Hermit Thrush.  This is only the second Hermit Thrush we have banded on the property.  The first one was one of our first birds in October, 2012.  Always fun to study a "new" bird.

Hermit Thrush
Photo by Roy Netherton

Though this bird might appear a little reddish like a Veery, the spots are darker and more distinct.

Hermit Thrush
Photo by Roy Netherton
The tail is much redder than the back.

Hermit Thrush
Photo by Roy Netherton

A beautiful portrait shot.  Note the bristles near the bill.  When anything touches these, the mouth opens.  A very keen sense of touch.

Hermit Thrush
Photo by Roy Netherton

We were pretty amazed to see the mouth lining, so orange.

The next regularly scheduled Possum Long session will be on Tuesday, February 21.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 11 & 12, 2017

This weekend we made return visits to two sites.  We are not getting many new invites so it is wonderful to have former hosts report they have many unbanded birds.

At PB 46 we banded 23 new birds and added to our return data with 11 recaptures.  At this site we have exceeded 100 birds banded.  The hosts are  incredibly wonderful to us and do an excellent job of tracking their birds.  Number 100 got a special combination with 2 of the black/white split bands.

Painted Bunting

We also banded a Mourning Dove, a Northern Cardinal, a Chipping Sparrow and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Chipping Sparrow

At PB 49 we banded 14 new Painted Buntings, doubling the total there.  Last year we knew there were more birds but we were unable to catch them.  Though many of the birds were born last summer here's one that is older.  As we have mentioned many times before, this can only be told in-hand. Note the green edges to the feathers above the thumb.  These are hidden on a folded wing.

Painted Bunting (female as can only be told in hand) (ASY)
note the green edges to the feathers above the thumb

We recaptured three from last season and banded a Northern Cardinal who thinks he owns the yard!

Northern Cardinal

Next Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, February 14.  Nets go up at 7 am.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 4 and 5, 2017

We are continuing to have many hits to this blog.  I am grateful to have such interest.  We have just passed 50,000 page views!

The Painted Bunting season also continues and this past weekend we returned to two previous sites.  On Saturday we went to PB 60 - home of the first return of Season 4.  These hosts have a new caged feeder and we were very successful catching buntings; both Painted and Indigo.  We banded 13 new Painted and 3 Indigo Buntings.  We also recaptured 14 of the 24 Painteds we banded last season. That makes 27 plus 3 in one day! Very good data!!

Incidental captures were a Palm Warbler, an Ovenbird, and a Northern Cardinal.

Painted Bunting

This green Painted Bunting was quite blue on the head. One of the males had been attacked by something. It had lost its tail, many back feathers, and a few on the head.  It seemed quite fine and was replacing feathers.  The undertail was uniquely colored.

male Painted Bunting regrowing lost feathers

male Painted Bunting regrowing tail

Indigo Bunting

On Sunday we returned to PB 5.  As you can tell from the low PB number, this site was first visited very early in Season 1 and we have returned every season since.  These are clearly special folks.  Our thanks to them for their support.  In Season Two they had the bird that was found on its breeding grounds in Georgia!

We banded 7 Painted Buntings and recaptured one.  We had 18 incidental captures:  3 Pine Warblers, 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler, 5 Indigo Buntings, 3 Northern Cardinals, and 6 Common Ground-Doves. 
I believe this is the only site where we have banded Pine Warblers.  We also recaptured an Indigo Bunting.

male Common Ground-Dove

Pine Warbler

So, give yourself a quiz here.  What was this bird?  Clearly similar to the above but hardly yellow.....

Yes, it is also a Pine Warbler. Young birds can have much less yellow than an adult male.

NEXT Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, February 14, 2017.  Nets go up at 7 am.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 28, 2017

We made it to a new county.  We banded in Kissimmee in Osceloa county.  What a great experience as so many of our sessions are.

We banded 21 Painted Buntings and surprisingly most were adult and many were male.  Thirteen were male, 5 were female, and 3 were born last year so undetermined (young and green).

Painted Bunting, male

Though we cannot band hummingbirds, if one is caught in the net we (of course) extract them.  We saw evidence of at least 4 birds:  Two immature males with varying amounts of red, one molting tail feathers, and one adult male.  We had moved feeders to prevent them being in the path of the net but the birds were accustomed to flying that way anyway.  They quickly learned to not do that!  The photo isn't as red as is sometimes seen but that is only due to the angle of the photograph.  It was red. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (adult male)

We also had 16 incidental captures:  6 Northern Cardinals, 3 Blue Jays, 3 Chipping Sparrows, 1 Ovenbird, 1 Carolina Wren, 1 American Goldfinch, and 1 Tufted Titmouse!!  The Tufted Titmouse was a new bird for me to band (113).

Tufted Titmouse

For the Carolina Wren, is interesting to note that the barred pattern is only on half of each wing feather.  When the wing folds, the unmarked portion is under the neighboring feather.  

Carolina Wren


We are still planning on a February 14 start to the "spring" season at Possum Long.  Details will follow soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017

It is a little late but HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Possum Long Banding is still on vacation but we hope to resume on February 14.  Keep watching this site for updates and times.

Painted Bunting banding took a short break but we are back underway.  We banded at PB 59 but though we saw the Painted Buntings there, we just didn't catch any.  This sometimes happens.  We did band 2 Common Grackles.

Sunday, January 22, we visited a new host (PB 66) on the west coast of Florida.  We had high hopes of our first bunting from "out west" but once again they were seen but not captured.  We did band 10 Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackles.  The blackbirds gave us a great opportunity to age this species.

Red-winged Blackbird (ASY) male

Red-winged Blackbird
(l) SY female, (r) ASY female

Today we were much more fortunate when we revisited PB 32 and banded 2 male and one green Painted Buntings.  Also there were quite a few Indigo Buntings at this site.  We banded 5 and recaptured one that had been banded at this site last year.  The male Indigos are turning more blue every day but a lot of it is still hidden until we spread the wings.  We also banded an Ovenbird, a Northern Mockingbird, 3 Northern Cardinals, and a Mourning Dove.


Indigo Bunting (male)

Indigo Bunting (female)

I will be giving a lecture at the Blake Library (2351 SE Monterey Rd. Stuart, FL) on February 2, from 6-7 pm.  I will be giving an overview of our research project from basics to results.  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Final Numbers at the End of 2016

So, keep in mind that Painted Bunting Seasons cross calendar lines.  I have just tallied birds banded since our Possum Long break in August.

Just since August (with both projects) we banded 46 species and 328 individuals.  This includes the 103 Painted Buntings from the start of Season 4.  Six of the species were new to the studies.

In 2016 we banded 751 birds  (223 at Possum Long and 528 at Painted Bunting locations).  371 of them were buntings - end of Season 3 and start of Season 4.

That brings the Possum Long lifetime total to 900.

Over 3-1/2 seasons we have banded 1542 birds at Painted Bunting locations with 1022 of them buntings!

The grand total is 70 species and 2442 birds.

Gray Catbird
most numerous after Painted Buntings
279 banded