Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013

Today was a day of visitors.  As it is spring break, two students were able to visit Possum Long Banding Station.  Matt and Anthony were both able to pitch in to help set up nets.  Right off we had a net full of birds - 3 Gray Catbirds and 2 Northern Mockingbirds.

Matt holding and then releasing a Gray Catbird

Anthony holding and then releasing a Gray Catbird
Photo by Lisa Fiore

Even Lisa (mom) got to hold a bird.

Northern Mockingbird

Then there were the visiting birds - the next capture was a Prothonotary Warbler. It was a male as told by the amount of white in the tail feathers and a 2Y (second year) bird by its greenish back and back of head (not bright yellow like the throat and underside).

Prothonotary Warbler
Photo by Crystal Conway

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
Photo by Crystal Conway

Not long after Nancy Price called to say there was another warbler, this time a Worm-eating Warbler.  Wing measurements indicated that it was male.

Worm-eating Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

Worm-eating Warbler

The rest of the day we banded Blue Jays and more Gray Catbirds and evaluated a few recaptures, that is until the last bird of the day when we had a "green" Painted Bunting.  At this time of year one cannot tell if the green ones are females or 2Y (second year) males.  

Painted Bunting
A total of 13 newly banded birds today.  
I have added 2 new pages of data to the blog; year totals and daily totals.  
Next banding session:  April 2

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013 - Impromptu session

Bill was free today so he and I and Nancy Price did an impromptu banding session and experimented with double (in length) nets.  A net is strung from an end pole and then at the middle the loops of the first net are alternated with the second net and then the second net is strung out to its end.  This new set-up worked well and we may use it at the woods net for a while.

While bird capture numbers were low, today was an awesome session.  We caught a new Gray Catbird and recaptured another.  We could hear a lot of birds and are waiting for the day we catch our first Great Crested Flycatcher.  Today we recaptured a female Northern Cardinal.

But the save-all exciting bird was a Nashville Warbler!!  A first ever FL bird for both Bill and I (though we knew this bird well in WA) and a lifer for Nancy Price.  Can't get much better than that and it will do until migration hits full swing!

Nashville Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

Nashville Warbler (showing yellow-white-yellow of underside)
Photo by Nancy Price

Nashville Warbler (showing rufous head feathers)
Photo by Nancy Price

Rain forced a quick shutdown but it was time to go anyway.

Next banding will be the regularly scheduled session on March 26.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013

We had a busy day today and it started off with a treat.  We heard a Chuck-will's-widow singing in the dark of the early morning.  The weather forecast had us concerned but we did not get any of the "R" word, just very muggy weather.

Quite soon we caught (you guessed it) Gray Catbirds!  For the day we had a total of 4 new banded catbirds and 2 recaptures; one was banded on December 16 and the other on February 12.  There seemed to be more Gray Catbirds present than any other time since we began.  One can only assume that more are moving through.  This also makes me wonder if the one from December went somewhere else and is now retracing its "steps" back through Possum Long.

We were also delighted to note the return of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons to Possum Long.  For the past few years (and maybe longer) they have nested on the property.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Photo by Pat Marshall

Returns and recaptures were the theme of the day.  We recaptured the Northern Parula from last week and the male American Redstart from January 22.  We had seen him (with his band) on the property after he was originally banded so it is fairly safe to say he overwintered on or near the property.

American Redstart male

Prior to recapturing the male American Redstart, we did catch a new female-looking American Redstart.  It is hard to eliminate the possibility that it could be a second year male as they look much like the adult female.  Most males would start to show black mottling on the head or face but not all of them do so in March.

American Redstart

American Redstart

We also banded a pair of Northern Cardinals.  The male was quite bright.  We found one body feather still in the sheath that protects the feather as it grows in.

Northern Cardinal female                                                                Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male - body feather growing in

Northern Cardinal - Nancy Price taking his picture

and the picture Nancy Price took!

Most fun was having a pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  At one point in the day Nancy Price said she had not heard any but not long after that we heard one.  On the next net run there were two in the net.  The male was molting in some of his iridescent throat feathers (gorget).  The female was molting tail feathers. Though small, these are tough birds and they flew off in fine fashion after we extracted them and looked them over.  They were released unbanded as I do not have the permits to do that.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - female
Photo by Nancy Price

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - male
Photo by Nancy Price

Ruby-throated Hummingbird with tail feathers growing in
Photo by Nancy Price

As always, I am very thankful to those who volunteer at the station.  

Next scheduled banding:  March 26

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013

Yesterday, Crystal Conway wished we would band a Northern Parula and today it happened.  We had been hearing reports of the increased numbers of Northern Parula so while not surprised, we were pleased.

Northern Parula held by Ryan Welsh

Northern Parula close-up
Photo by Crystal Conway

Northern Parula
Photo by Pat Marshall

We also caught 3 more Gray Catbirds, they seem to be the staple of winter residents and I am guessing we will miss them when they leave.  Hopefully by then we will have migrants to entertain us.

Today was a good teaching/learning day with Ryan and I helping people feel more comfortable holding and transferring birds and Nancy Price is now extracting birds from the nets.  Almost everyone had a chance to practice recording data.  Good job everyone!!  Hopefully in the next few weeks we will be getting even more prepared for migration.

Ryan transferring a Gray Catbird to Crystal Conway

Today was also Wood Duck day.  It looks like one or two pair may attempt to nest in boxes on the property.  They can be seen in the pond or perched high in the trees!  Do you see the female?

Wood Ducks high in the pines

Toward the end of the day we caught another new species.  We banded a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Woodpeckers have very interesting molt patterns and if a woodpecker has retained some feathers from previous years we can sometimes tell how old it is up to three years.  This bird had no retained feathers so we know is that it is an adult male likely over three years old..

Red-bellied Woodpecker and Ryan Welsh

Yes, they actually have a red belly!  (Now Ryan wants to catch one of the Pileated Woodpeckers!)

The Red-bellied Woodpeckers have barred central tail feathers.  Though it looks like one black and white feather, it is actually two feathers.  Knowing this you can actually see the edges of the two central feathers that are much like the outer one.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Nancy Price

Three species banded today:  3 Gray Catbird, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 1 Northern Parula and 1 recaptured Gray Catbird originally banded in January.

Next banding:  March 19, 2013