Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013 And so it begins......

Today gave us our first captures of fall migrants.  Slowly but surely, we will be seeing more new birds for the Possum Long Banding Station.

Today started with a Wild Turkey rodeo.  There were two birds under the large feeder just past the Strangler Fig.  We don't want them entangled in the nets so we walked either side of them and they moseyed on toward the pond where we had no nets today.

Wild Turkey (photo from August 6)

First off we recaptured "28" the female Northern Cardinal originally banded in March and recaptured last week and the week before.  She had molted/lost almost her entire tail last week and it was just beginning to grow in.  The tail feathers were a bit longer this week.  We finally photographed her!  You can see part of her band number in the original of this photograph  - the last 2 digits which are 28.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy Price

Then we had our first warbler of the day.  Prior to this banding station, all of my banding was done in the Pacific Northwest so hearing the call "warbler in the net" is music to my ears.  Two years ago I heard that a Hooded Warbler had been seen at Possum Long but I did not get to see it.  Now we have banded one!

Hooded Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

We caught and banded another female Northern Cardinal and soon after a brief rain surprised us so we shut down for a short time.  After it cleared we shook out the nets but left them open to dry.  A male Northern Cardinal was caught but he was molting so much and he was a bit damp, so in the interest of his well being we released him unbanded.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy Price

Next we caught a Worm-eating Warbler.  He bit and chipped the entire time we banded and took data and even later we could hear its calls in the undergrowth.  Luckily for me it doesn't bite nearly as hard as the cardinals.

Worm-eating Warbler
Photo by Nancy Price

Last but not least was another Northern Cardinal.  This one was born this summer told by the new red feathering that was growing in and his black bill.  There were a few small black feathers starting to show around the base of the bill.

Northern Cardinal (hatch year male)
Photo by Nancy Price

Not much diversity today but we can't complain with the two warbler species we did get!  Barn Swallow and Hooded Warbler were new for the 2013 year list.

Next banding session:  September 3, nets open at 6:30.  Come see if we get more migrants.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013

Today greeted us with sightings of a few migrants.  There was a Prairie Warbler in the butterfly garden and we banded a Gray Catbird.  We recaptured the female Northern Cardinal that we recaptured last week and once again she was camera shy.  Sorry, no bird pictures for this week.  We did add Tricolored Heron to the Possum Long Birdlist.

It seems that today was trim the trees day for the utility company.  This is very necessary since we are in hurricane season but it did not help today's capture rate.  We heard quite a few Blue Jays at 6:30 and we saw up to 4 Northern Mockingbirds but they didn't make it into the nets.

It was however mildly entertaining to watch the ascent.  He climbed to the upper branches to trim the ones overhanging the utility line.  These views would make you think he took off the entire side of the tree but fortunately that was not the case.  Only a few small limbs were cut.  

Tree trimming

We also had a few visitors of the animal type.  This turtle made us very glad we had the nets raised high enough off the ground so it could cross the net lane.

Florida Box Turtle


It was also a busy butterfly day.  We saw Ruddy Daggerwings, Zebra Longwings, Cloudless Sulphurs, Giant Swallowtails, and this lovely Monarch.

Photo by Nancy Price

We keep hoping to discover the beginning of the migrant maximum.  Until then we will band a bird here and there and enjoy learning more about the birds of Possum Long.

Next banding:  August 27, nets open at 6:30 am.  Though there is parking on 7th Street, also check on Hibiscus Avenue as some of us park there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013 - Lucky 13th

When we decided to end the summer break we were not sure of the timing of returning birds.  We hoped that we would catch local resident birds or with the reports of moving American Redstarts and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers there would be something to band.  If not, there would be pictures of the property like this:


I first saw this plant in Lisa's garden in Washington (state) and have come to know it as a spot of color and a good fruiting shrub for birds.  

We did however catch 3 birds today so we were lucky.  The first bird was a female Northern Cardinal recapture.  She was originally banded in March.  Somehow we did not manage to take a picture of her.

Zebra Heliconia

We were watching the many Zebra Heliconia at the Firebush when Crystal noticed a bird.  She said she thought it was a Brown Thrasher.  Major excitement ensued as we had never documented one on the property in the last year.  We located the bird and not long after it was in the net.

Brown Thrasher
Photo by Jane Wiewora

This great event welcomed new volunteer Jane Wiewora to the banding team.  I had just mentioned to Jane that we had yet to have Brown Thrasher or Carolina Wrens on the property.  The bird had major molting going on.  A Brown Thrasher is a fairly large bird and because it spends a lot of time scratching on the ground, in the leaf litter, it has large legs.

Brown Thrasher
Photo by Crystal Conway

You can see the uneven tail in this overall shot of the thrasher and also in the back view.

Brown Thrasher
Photo by Crystal Conway

Two other species on the property were noteworthy.  We had a Gray Catbird like last week, likely the same bird.  We also had a Great Crested Flycatcher which we had not had on the property in the last few visits.  No way to tell if this one had been there all along or was one moving through.

Next we caught a male Northern Cardinal that was also heavily molting.  After a few major nips from the bird we got a band on it, took our data, and got photos of his newly emerging head feathers.

Northern Cardinal
Photo by Nancy Price

You can see how skimpy his crest is and the darker (unfaded) red feathers coming in around the black face. You can also see a few white sheaths that cover new feathers in the black feathers just below his bill.

I am thankful that my volunteers are such good photographers so we can share what is happening as we band at Possum Long.  THANK YOU!

And just because it was so packed, we have to show you the new occupants of one of the Wood Duck boxes!

Bee covered Wood Duck box

Next banding session will be August 20 with nets going up at 6:30 am.  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 6, 2013 It's time to think "Fall Migration"

Welcome back after a summer break.  It looks like birds might start moving and even if they don't, there are a few resident birds around to study and document.

Today was just going to be a day to clean the banding lanes at Possum Long and it was but it was a bit more too.  The lanes were not too over grown.  We did clear out some ground plants that tangle in the nets and trip the volunteers and we also cut some branches that would catch the nets or block our path.

Pond net lane prior to trimming

Woods net lane during clean-up

In addition to clean-up we hung two nets in the woods lane.  We had seen a small bird in the overhead leaves that could have been a vireo or warbler.  The temptation was too great.  We gave in.  Our efforts paid off as we caught a hatch-year Northern Cardinal.  

Northern Cardinal
photo by Nancy Price

You can tell that this bird was born this summer by its bill which is still dark, not bright orange.  It was also still growing in quite a few feathers.

Northern Cardinal growing in body feathers
Photo by Nancy Price

Northern Cardinal growing in flight feathers and coverts
Photo by Nancy Price

Two other exciting discoveries:  1) we saw a Gray Catbird - an early returnee and 2)  there are now 2 Wild Turkeys on the property.  It did not take them long to find food under the feeder we filled.

Wild Turkey

We are planning on banding next week unless it is raining.  Things should quiet down fairly quickly - we were done by 10 am today.  We won't promise any birds but volunteers and visitors are always welcome.

Next planned session:  August 13 - 6:30 am