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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

March 31, April 2, 4, and 5, 2017

The end is in sight at least for Painted Bunting Season 4.  We finally have topped 300 banded for this season with hopes of getting a few more before they all depart.  Hopefully we will have a productive migration season before heat, humidity, and rain shut us down for Summer Break.  Possum Long banding will continue through migration.  Hints of migration are starting....

On March 31, we returned to Vero Beach to PB 28.  It was an outstanding session.  We had originally banded 23 there 2 years ago.  This session was 33 new ones plus incidental captures and recaptures of Painted Buntings from both Season 1 and Season 2.  Our incidental species were an Indigo Bunting, a Carolina Wren, a Brown Thrasher, a Palm Warbler and 2 Gray Catbirds.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Carolina Wren
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Brown Thrasher
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On April 2, we returned to PB 46.  We caught 7 new Painted Buntings.  I don't think we will ever catch them all!  115 and counting!  Besides the new buntings we had recaptures and incidental captures of a Prairie Warbler, 3 Indigo Buntings, a Common Ground-Dove, and a Blue Jay.  

Blue Jay

Prairie Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

On April 4, we had our regularly scheduled Possum Long session.  Once more it was windy and therefore quiet.  Guests were treated to a recaptured Northern Cardinal and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  We cannot band the hummer but it was fun to see as it rested on my hand before flying off.  We did band one new Painted Bunting.

Painted Bunting
female as evidenced by green edging on the primary coverts

On April 5, we banded at a new location (PB 71) that shows great promise for the future.  Right off we caught 3 Painted Buntings.  The surprise was a male American Redstart (ASY - after second year) .  I love the color of this bird.  We also banded a Blue Jay and 2 Northern Cardinals.  

As always we thank all of our hosts, some of the best folks one could meet.  Their passion for their birds and the rest of the critters is wonderful to share.  I owe so much to the folks who come week after week to lend hard work and support to these banding efforts.  I couldn't ask for a better team.

Next scheduled Possum Long banding is April 11.  Nets go up at 6:45.  Visitors (and migrants) welcome.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 24, 25, 27, 28, and 29, 2017

It's that time of year.  The Painted Buntings are leaving and have already been seen in South Carolina and likely all over their breeding areas.  Not to worry, some are still here.  Feeder keepers may notice a decline (your winter resident birds leaving) and then another increase (birds moving through). Feeders are very important now as birds have mapped these "gas stations" for their way home.  Those folks with banded birds will know when migrants pass through.

We had a busy time since the last post.  On March 24 we banded in LaBelle, our first time in Hendry county.  We banded 5 Painted Buntings and had incidental captures of Northern Cardinal, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Indigo Buntings.

Indigo Bunting with head molting in new feathers

Indigo Bunting - after second year male

Great Crested Flycatcher

On March 25, we presented banding as a scientific tool to a class from the Audubon of Martin County's Audubon Academy.  We only caught one new bird and had one recapture but those two were representative of all we do.  The Gray Catbird is always a great teaching bird.  The recaptured Painted Bunting gave everyone a glance at color banding and we were able to relate many things we have learned both from the Status and Distribution study at Possum Long as well as the Painted Bunting Banding Project.

On March 27, we visited a potential new host whose yard did not work for using nets.  We brought over a temporary caged feeder in hopes that we can trap there before the birds move on.

On March 28, we conducted our Possum Long banding.  We banded three new birds (Gray Catbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Northern Cardinal).  This quiet day has left us hoping that migration will pick up.  Actually migration is underway but some of the first birds through have also overwintered so it's hard to tell migrant versus visitor.  The Great Crested Flycatchers might have overwintered nearby but likely have moved in from elsewhere and they are actively starting to pair up and start the very beginning of nesting.

Northern Cardinal

Great Crested Flycatcher

On March 29, I returned to PB 69 where I banded another male and female Painted Bunting.  

Painted Bunting

Next regularly scheduled Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, April 4.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 19, 20, and 21, 2017

March 19 was a super busy day as we visited two locations.  We returned to PB 64 in the morning and PB 13 in the afternoon.  Many thanks to Pat Marshall who worked at both sessions and the next day too!

At PB 64 we banded 9 new Painted Buntings as well as incidental captures of a Mourning Dove, a Palm Warbler, FIVE Northern Cardinals. and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Best news of all was recapturing all six of the birds we banded the previous year.  Some locations do get 100% returns!

Palm Warbler

Northern Cardinal - male

Painted Bunting - male

At PB 13 we were pretty hampered by the rising wind and a few grackles.  Despite that we banded 7 new buntings and recaptured one.  Incidental captures included another Northern Cardinal and 3 of the Common Grackles.  It is interesting to me that even though these 2 locations are fairly close, they do not seem to share birds.

Monday found us at PB 37.  We had last visited in Season Two and had banded 22 buntings then. This visit we banded 13 new buntings and recaptured 2.  The only incidental capture was a Blue Jay. Our host is an great photographer and she allowed us to share the release she caught!  We have two other great photos by her which will appear in presentations or maybe in a later blog.

Releasing the Painted Bunting after banding

Very colorful male Painted Bunting underside

Blue Jay holding his bands hostage

Our regular Possum Long session on March 21 went well but migrants are yet to show up in any numbers.  We banded a new Painted Bunting, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Blue Jay.  We also recaptured another Painted Bunting, an Ovenbird, and a Northern Cardinal.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Blue Jay - wing showing young feathers

Next regularly scheduled banding at Possum Long will be March 28.  Nets go up at 7:15.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 12, 14, and 15, 2017

On March 12, we banded at PB 10 where we finally caught the birds that were present!  The host reported only 1 unbanded green after we left.  Sometimes we are not that lucky.  We banded 10 Painted Buntings and recaptured the two that had been banded in December.  When people tell me that banding will scare their birds off I remember times like this.

We had 6 incidental bandings:  2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Common Ground-Doves, 1 Great Crested Flycatcher, and a Northern Parula.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

On March 14, we had our regular banding session at Possum Long.  We did well with 2 Painted Buntings; one a recapture and one a new bird.  Both were green so it afforded us the perfect opportunity for a side-by-side photo.  The key feathers are where I am pointing - that bird is a female because the feathers have a green edging.  The bird on the left shows grayer feathers in the same area.  It was born last summer.

Painted Buntings
Photo by Pat Marshall

(a cropped version of the above)

We also banded a Northern Parula and a Downy Woodpecker.  Birds are moving through the property with a recent report of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Downy Woodpecker - female
Photo by Pat Marshall

We returned to DuPuis Wildlife Area (PB 6) several times but caught the most birds on March 15. We banded 8 Painted Buntings and recaptured quite a few.  At least one male was from Season 1!!  We also banded a new Chipping Sparrow and a recaptured one from 2 years ago.  The Clay-colored Sparrow was also still present.

Many birds are using the caged feeder.  The Painted and Indigo Buntings LOVE it.  There are also Chipping Sparrows that use it and the Clay-colored was in it for a few minutes.  Also a Gray Catbird managed to squeeze in.  I don't think they eat seed very often.  

Caged feeder (plans in Encouraging Painted Buntings page on this blog)
You can see a male and a green I hope.

Next scheduled Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, March 21.  Nets go up at 7:30 am.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 6 and 7, 2017

Monday we returned to DuPuis (PB 6) for another attempt to band some of the unbanded birds we saw on March 1.  This visit we only managed recaptures but the great news and data are that some of those birds were from Seasons 1 and 2.  The birds were doing fine and on a few we had to replace color bands that had fallen off or were faded.

We also caught a few incidental Chipping Sparrows.  The excitement was that among the Chipping Sparrows, Pete and Jean noticed one that looked different.  Different it was - it was a Clay-colored Sparrow (photo below).  What great spotting that led to a life looks for some and a few new state and/or county species seen.

Painted Bunting - male

Painted Bunting female (know because as a recapture we know it is over 4 years old!)

Chipping Sparrow

We also recaptured 2 Chipping Sparrows from 2 years ago, banded on the same dates!

Clay-colored Sparrow (right) with 2 Chipping Sparrows
Photo by Jean Potvin

Today, Possum Long just wasn't as exciting as yesterday.  In fact we did not capture any birds.  This is only the 7th time in 5 years that we had that happen.  Wind was a big factor as the birds can see the nets moving.  It was also raptor day with 2 nesting Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 nesting Osprey, 3 newly arrived flyover Swallow-tailed Kites, and 2 Cooper's Hawks!!  Better luck in the next week or so as sooner or later migrants will come through.

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, March 14.  Nets go up at 7:30 am.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 24, 26, 28, and March 1, 2017, 2017

On March 24, we went back to PB 3 as they had a few unbanded birds plus one bird that had returned but was apparently not a combination from this location.  We did band 2 more here and we did recapture the suspect bird.  It turns out that it was banded at Possum Long in April, 2016.  The young lady of the household lent us her special bunting for company!

our bunting mascot

Painted Bunting
Photo by Pete Grannis

On the 26th we went to Sebastian and revisited PB 40.  It was a very birdy day - we saw our first Swallow-tailed Kite of the season.

We banded 8 new Painted Buntings and had 17 incidental birds:  Two American Goldfinch, 7 Indigo Buntings, 3 Brown-headed Cowbirds, 3 Northern Cardinals, 1 Common Ground-Dove, and a Common Grackle.  

Painted Bunting 

Indigo Bunting
molting and wearing into blue colors for spring

American Goldfinch

On February 28 we cancelled our regularly scheduled Possum Long banding due to rain.  Bird safety comes first and wet nets are not safe for birds.  

March 1 was a great session.  We banded at DuPuis (PB 6) which is one of our few sites with public access. This is a good location for observing buntings.  We only used a trap in the caged feeder that is there. It kept us quite busy.  We banded 5 new buntings and recaptured 6 more.  We saw quite a few strange colors including one green bunting with red feathers on its face.  These were not molting in. The cheek area is typically blue on a male so it is just that they got colored red as they grew in.  We recaptured a male that had been banded in Season 1.  This means the bird is a least 6 years old.  We also had 5 incidental captures of 3 Chipping Sparrows and 2 Indigo Buntings.  

Painted Bunting with strange red face feathers

Indigo Bunting 
molting and wearing into its blue colors for spring

Painted Bunting
older female with rosy breast

Next scheduled banding at Possum Long will be on Tuesday, March 6.  Nets go up at 6:30.