Monday, August 22, 2016

August 22, 2016 - A NEW LOOK

With Marko's help we tried moving to another blogging platform but there was no way to move  everything and to also maintain statistics.  We are 20 views from 20,000!!  So, I have decided to merge the Painted Bunting activities onto the main blog feed this season.  Painted Bunting news won't all be in one place but hopefully you can follow.  

Banding at Possum Long will likely occur mostly during migration.  Good news is that we are on the verge of Fall migration starting.  First session will be around the second week of September unless we see or hear of migrants prior to that.  Watch for new posts and the bottom of each post!

From Season Three
Male Painted Bunting sitting ON a net - not going in
This bird was already banded and from the data we know he is at least 8 years old!

Painted Buntings started returning to host locations at the very end of July.  On July 30, PB 60 had a male return.  It was not banded.  SEASON FOUR begins.

Since our project started we have discovered that Painted Buntings actually return earlier than most feeder observers realized.  Now, more people are hanging feeders earlier and many hosts now are observing more.  Many hosts have a few buntings at this time.  We do know from feeder observations that the majority of birds arrive by late September/early October.  The "early birds" are either moving through and get a boost from feeding at the feeders or they are birds that have "their" feeders mapped and are staking their claims.  

PB 44 had a banded male return to their feeder on August 16.  It had been banded in Season Two.  

We returned to PB 46 today.  They had a banded female return to their feeder.  We know that any returning banded green bird is an adult and can be called a female.  Unbanded green birds can now be aged in hand so we know if they are adult (female) or birds born this last nesting season that may be male or female.  Green birds can only be aged in hand.  Many birders do not realize that green birds may be young males.

We did not recapture the banded bird (photo above) nor any of the three unbanded males that had been observed. We did have incidental captures of 2 Blue Jays, a Common Grackle, and a male Northern Cardinal. All 4 were born this past summer.  

Common Grackle (HY)

Common Grackle (HY)
Note brown juvenile feathers in the wing with more shiny adult feathers in the center

Blue Jay (HY)
Head is molting feathers as were the wings

Banding at Possum Long will resume on Tuesday, September 13 and on Tuesdays afterward until migration is done.  There will be another post but plan on sunrise.  This notice will be at the bottom of each entry including Painted Bunting posts.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 10, 2016 Last Spring session

This session we captured 2 new birds.  We banded an Ovenbird and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  I will post photos soon.  I also have a few photos from some training sessions.  To come........

I am very grateful to Marko for fixing our pole storage.  It sounds like a small thing but anything that makes our job easier is wonderful.  THANKS MARKO!!!

I would like to thank all the volunteers who worked this spring season.  It is hard to show up week after week and only get a few birds at a time.  We are glad the birds are up north and nesting!  Something to look forward to in the fall.

Pete may be posting new slow motion video.  The one of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is spectacular!  Check out his links in last week's blog entry and scroll.

Next session will be in August!  Stay tuned here and we will let you know!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3, 2016 - Banding and Birds being released in slow motion

We didn't get or see a lot of birds today but there are certainly things to write about.  We enjoyed meeting Wendy and Dennis from South Carolina.  They participate in Painted Bunting monitoring there and we were glad to show them our regular banding sessions.  Sharing butterflies was also great.  I'm sure much sharing will continue.

Migrants continue to pass right over as the winds are not too favorable for them to stop.  We console ourselves with knowing it is better that they fly on.  The grounds are eerily silent.  Today we observed 2 Blackpoll Warblers and one female Black-throated Blue Warbler.  We caught and banded another warbler species - a Common Yellowthroat.

 Common Yellowthroat
Photo by Pete Grannis

Our visitors were about to leave when we had a very strange thing happen.  A Blue Jay was in the net as was something that looked like a hummingbird.  It turned out to be a very large moth, likely a Sphinx Moth.  Never had that happen before!  The moth was extracted and released.  (Pete got the moth identified as a Fig Sphinx Moth.)  The Blue Jay was a recapture. Was the Blue Jay pursuing the moth when they got caught??

Blue Jay
Photo by Pete Grannis

Fig Sphinx Moth

We also recaptured a Great Crested Flycatcher.  We did a few training sessions last week and had recaptured the same bird.  It was banded in the spring of 2013 and it is still coming to Possum Long.  We don't often catch Great Crested Flycatchers so it is good to have this long history on this bird.

Great Crested Flycatcher
Photo by Wendy Allen

Thanks to a site discovered by Jane, Pete has been taking some slow-motion videos of birds we release.  Below are the links to his Flickr page.  Hope you enjoy this new photography as much as we do.  Hopefully the birds from today will be on his site soon!

Next banding session:  Tuesday, May 10.  Nets go up at 6:15.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 26, 2016

What's good for the birds isn't exactly exciting for us.  Another quiet day but some good data.  More Gray Catbirds.  We recaptured two and banded one new one.  One of the recaptures was from 11/11/2014.  Nice to know that Possum Long is a good resting and feeding place.  One of the birds we caught had traces of berries on its face.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Pete Grannis

Gray Catbird
Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

The only other bird banded was an Ovenbird.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.  This time last year we had a lot of them.  We hear folks saying that birds are late and it has been very quiet.  It takes certain weather patterns for us to get larger numbers of birds.  What's slow for us means birds are moving through as they need to.  We wish them well.

Photo by Crystal Conway

We also wish Jane well as she migrates away from us.  We hope we will see her return migration sometime even for a short time.  We hope she finds many fun opportunities and enjoys the new life!

Next scheduled banding:  May 3, 2016.  Nets go up at 6:15 am

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 19, 2016

Some leftover news from while I was away.  Molly Bartels  (see April 5) revisited the station on April 12 and her article and video on our continuing efforts were published.  I don't know how long this link will work but the update article on our banding was front page above the fold!  So many thanks to Molly and The Stuart News.

Our day started with a lot of excitement.  We got a very large bird in the net. Nancy gave a call out so we could see and deal with our catch.  We released a Red-shouldered Hawk!!  I cannot band raptors and the safest thing for this bird was to open the fold and let it out.  The net squares were too small to snag this magnificent bird.  In all the excitement, we failed to photograph the event.

Soon after we started catching Gray Catbirds.  Much like last year, the migrants are slowly making their way through.  We saw only a few but we also caught them!  If last year's pattern holds this year, the next two weeks could be busy and interesting.

Soon we had our first warbler and it was exciting.  We banded a Hooded Warbler.  This wasn't the first time but it is always an event!  I called Jim to come see what we were banding and he said, "But there's a Hooded Warbler in the 'woods' net"  (our net locations are described with titles not numbers as in some stations).   Two Hooded Warblers in one day!

Hooded Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

More Gray Catbirds for a total of nine! And then we caught the second warbler species - an Ovenbird.  This species should become more numerous in the next two weeks.  

Photo by Nancy LaFramboise

Next scheduled banding:  April 26.  Nets go up at 6:15.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 12, 2016

My humble apologies to readers.  I was away on this date and the sub-permit holders, Pete Grannis and Nancy Price, and all of the volunteers kept the station running.  I am very grateful to them all.  My apologies to Pete who authored the following but I was not able to get it posted in time for the April 19 session.

Possum Long Banding Station – Tuesday, 4/12/2016
It is still a bit early in the season for migrating passerines (the small perching bird species), but Gray Catbirds are right on schedule. Gray Catbird was definitely the bird of the day. We caught and banded 4 catbirds, and there were at least a dozen more calling and feeding around the property.

This Catbird was replacing in two tail feathers, R1 and R6.  
Photo by Jane Wiewora
One other bird we banded today was a Painted Bunting, a green bird in its first year. We also re-captured another green Painted Bunting, also in its first year, which we first saw and banded last November. Another green Painted Bunting, not banded, was observed at one of the feeders. These birds are getting ready to go north. Painted Buntings generally leave this part of Florida completely by mid-April to early May.

Retained formative primary coverts help age this 
Painted Bunting as a bird in its first year of life.  
Photo by Jane Wiewora
Elsewhere on the property we noted a flock of 15 or so Cedar Waxwings overhead, which subsequently landed in a dead pine tree. As time went on more birds joined them until there were more than 60 in the trees. Cedar Waxwing numbers seem to ebb and flow from year to year, so it was nice to see this gathering.

Cedar Waxwings seemed to like this dead pine tree. How many do you see?  Photo by Pete Grannis
We also spotted 3 Egyptian Geese as they flew overhead, which is a new species for Possum Long’s all-time list. Egyptian Geese are recognized as an established exotic species in south Florida, and are expanding their numbers. Other sightings for the day included Green Heron, Summer Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo, and the resident Red-shouldered Hawks.
Next Tuesday we’ll be setting up nets at 6:15. Stop by and visit!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

Once again we had a quiet day in great anticipation of arriving migrants.  We did see a few - Danny, our visitor, photographed a Red-eyed Vireo.  Some team members saw a Blue-headed Vireo.  There was a stunning Prairie Warbler on the property.

Another guest we had today was Molly Bartels, Visual Multimedia Journalist with the Stuart News.  Molly was actually the person who spotted the Prairie Warbler - a budding birder now!  There's a chance we will have photos in the Stuart News tomorrow and videos online.  I think we convinced Molly to visit more and to see Painted Buntings when we are banding again in the fall.

We captured 1 new Gray Catbird today and a female Northern Cardinal.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Jane Wiewora

We also recaptured 2 other Gray Catbirds.  One had been banded as a young bird on December 9, 2014.  Remember birds turn the next year old on January 1. This bird was 2 in 2015 and is now 3.

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, April 12.  Nets go up at 6:30.