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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 12 - 18, 2016

However you celebrate let us wish you the best.  Find out what makes your heart sing and do it.  We are ever so grateful for family and friends and all who make my heart sing by being able to do this research.  I appreciate the volunteers and the hosts who are contributing to our expanding knowledge of Painted Buntings and the other birds we band while doing this project.

The last four sessions of 2016 are done.  We will now celebrate arriving family.  We will be tallying birds since the fall Possum Long Banding through the end of the year.  Keep in touch for details (totals at the bottom of the page).  Painted Bunting banding will continue in the New Year and Possum Long banding will resume as we see more birds returning.

On December 12, we banded at PB 48.  This is home of the bird that ended up in Cuba!  We banded six more Painted Buntings.  One was a green bird with red highlights.  We had been told this is a trait of older females.  Well, surprise, this bird was born last summer.  The colors are NOT this bird molting into male colors.  That doesn't happen until the fall of next year.  It does not even mean it might be male - we just don't know.  Likely it had lost a few feathers for some other reason entirely and they grew in more red and one was actually blue (on the belly!).

Painted Bunting

Another bunting we captured had lost its tail and it was regrowing.  It looked so different with a short tail.  You can see some of the sheaths that cover the new feathers.

Painted Bunting regrowing a lost tail

On December 14, we went to our first new location of the season.  PB 65 had buntings and quite a few warblers.  We banded some of each - 3 buntings and 10 incidentals:  A Black-throated Blue Warbler, an American Redstart, an Ovenbird, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Northern Cardinal, a Northern Mockingbird, a Blue Jay, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Mourning Dove.  We saw other warblers as well.  If there were this many warblers still at Possum Long I think we'd be banding there.

The Blue Jay had had an injury to its bill.  Possibly caught in some kind of snap-trap.  The Red-bellied Woodpecker was quite red on the belly which is very hard to see when they are clinging to a trunk of a tree.  

Blue Jay with old bill injury

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker

On December 16, we returned to PB 32.  In addition to two more Painted Buntings we were glad to catch five American Goldfinches.  We also banded five Northern Cardinals.  Surprisingly, one was still showing signs of being young (most young cardinals born last summer have completely molted now and have all adult plumage).  

American Goldfinch - non-breeding male

Northern Cardinal

Today, December 18, we banded at PB 10 where we have not visited since Season 1.  We were glad to return even though not many Painted Buntings were at the feeders (yet).  We will likely revisit in the spring.  The buntings have plenty of places to go once they see the nets and go to eat elsewhere. We banded two buntings, three Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Mourning Dove.

Mourning Dove

green Painted Bunting - born last summer so cannot tell if it is male or female

(Not all of the labels would fit so some are abbreviated.)

Friday, December 9, 2016

December 9, 2016 A New Sighting or Two!!

Today I received an email from the Bird Banding Lab in Patuxent, MD.  It was exciting news and possibly sad news at the same time.

One of our birds was reported from Cuba on December 1.  The bird was banded at PB 48 in Stuart on October 27, 2016.  It was a young green bird so no way to tell if it was male or female.

We were not told of the status of this bird but seeing as a band was recovered we might guess the worst.  It did not have a code of re-released.

This sighting is great data for the program.  It is our first time that a bunting was banded in the program and was seen again farther south.  We now have confirmation of birds stopping to feed and continuing into Cuba.  This has been assumed but is now proven.

Also today, I just got word of a sighting of a bird we banded at PB 27 on November 11.  It was feeding at a different location approximately 1/2 mile from where it was banded.  Likely these 2 locations will share their birds.  We have 2 other reports of feeders within 1/2 mile that have had that happen.

Painted Bunting
Photo by Pat Eltz

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 4, 2016 - A milestone - 1000

Today was the day we banded the 1000th Painted Bunting in our research.  We revisited PB 61 as last visit it was windy and our hosts reported more unbanded birds.  Interesting to note that all the birds we banded (all green ones) were born last summer except Number 1000.

Painted Bunting #1000

We used a special combination on this bird using two of the split bands, the federal band (silver), and a dark blue one.  All other combinations only have one split band.  In our data entry, our split band is labeled K.  So our 100th bird (1K) got 2 K bands.  

The one incidental capture we had was a Gray Catbird.  

Remember - no banding at Possum Long on Tuesday (see previous post).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

November 29 and December 3, 2016

We banded at Possum Long on Tuesday.  Right off the bat we had birds and then it was super quiet.   The nets at the pond are still keeping us in business but we had enough people (many thanks!) to run a few more.  Thankfully we did!  We caught 4 birds:  A Northern Cardinal and a Yellow-rumped Warbler from the pond nets.  We also had a recaptured Gray Catbird from earlier this season.

Northern Cardinal

and the same bird giving her opinion of the bands

Gray Catbird

Our best bird of the day was a Wood Thrush.  Thankfully Pete and Jim had put up the net in the woods area.  I had been reading a few past posts from the Wekiva Banding Station.  I told the group that they had Wood and Hermit Thrushes recently.  We had only had one of each so I wasn't sure it would happen but it did! Our second ever Wood Thrush.

Wood Thrush  

On Saturday, we made a return visit to PB 47.  Our hosts were very accommodating in letting us schedule on very short notice.  We banded 5 new buntings and recaptured a male we had banded the previous season.  All four green birds were born this past summer.  This can be seen in the wing feathers in hand but not when perched.  The small brown feathers under and right of the thumb are not edged with green.  This is the only indication of this bird's age.  Since it will not molt again until next fall, this bird could return showing male colors after that molt or remain green if it is female.  

Painted Bunting (green immature)

Incidental captures were a Northern Cardinal, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and two Blue Jays.  One of the Blue Jays had a deformed bill that had actually crossed.  Luckily it seems able to close its bill and to eat by grabbing seeds from the side.  It was otherwise healthy and feisty.  

Blue Jay with crossed bill

We will not be banding at Possum Long until some time after the holidays.  Once we begin to see more activity, the usual Tuesday sessions will resume.  Watch for announcements at the bottom of blog entries!  Our best wishes to you and your families.  Painted Bunting posts will continue.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 27, 2016

Yesterday we banded at PB 46.  We recaptured a few buntings and banded 7 new ones.  Incidental captures included a Chipping Sparrow, an already banded Northern Cardinal, a Blue-headed Vireo and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Blue-headed Vireo

Red-bellied Woodpecker - female

Interesting to note is that PB 46 hosted a bird from PB 3!!  One of the first instances of a bird from a different feeder/location showing up elsewhere.  Now that we are in Season 4, maybe birds that have survived this long are starting to establish new patterns.

We have received a report of a banded Painted Bunting (one of ours!) at a new location.  It was originally banded in November, 2014 in Lake Worth.  It was first seen at the new place on November 27 in Boynton Beach.  The bird was in its male colors when it was banded which means it was born earlier than 2014.  This bird is at least 3 years old (soon to be 4 when all banded birds age a year in January!).

Painted Bunting resighting away from banding location
Photo by future PB host!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 19, 20, 22, and 23, 2016 Bunting Season underway

I cannot believe I am more than a week behind but it has been a busy week.  We returned to three former Painted Bunting sites and did a small session at Possum Long.  In addition to banding new buntings, it was nice to get some more return data.  Now that we are approaching our 1000th banded Painted Bunting it is harder to get reports of the returns.

On November 19, we were once again at Possum Long.  For the past few weeks we have been taunted by the calls of a Summer Tanager.  Today we caught and banded it.  It was only our second one of this species.  In the second photo you can see the "tooth" (small bulge on the upper edge) on the bill, typical of tanagers.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

We captured and banded 4 other birds:  A Prairie Warbler, 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Common Yellowthroat.  

Prairie Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

On November 20, we returned to PB 1 where we banded 6 new Painted Buntings (all green - 4 young of the year and 2 female (which can only determined in hand)) and recaptured a few more.  One male showed an unusually colored undertail and another male looked like it had been attacked by something and was regrowing a lot of back feathers.  The tail was also half missing.  Both were recaptures.  

Painted Bunting - male

Painted Bunting - male

On November 22, we returned to the DuPuis Visitor Center's feeders.  Though we only banded one new Painted Bunting, we were able to recapture 3 already banded birds plus 6 incidentals:  2 Common Ground-Doves, 2 Palm Warblers, a Northern Cardinal, and a Gray Catbird.

Common Ground-Dove

And on November 23, we returned to PB 58.  We banded 11 Painted Buntings (4 male, 2 female, and 5 young of the year).  This location had 3 of 4 birds return from last year.  Since we banded in the late spring, the 4th could be elsewhere as it was migration time when it was banded.  

Painted Bunting - male

We have now topped 31,000 hits on this blog - keep reading!

Next banding at Possum Long will be on November 29.  Nets go up at 6:15-6:30.  This will likely be one of the last regularly scheduled sessions until some time in January.  Keep a watch on blog entries for updates.    

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 15 and 16, 2016

Thank you to all of our readers.  We are very close to 30,000 views of posts on this blog.  Over 374 in one day recently!  It's nice to know that our efforts are being shared.

Our regular Tuesday banding was visited by Molly Bartels, photojournalist for the Stuart News.  We made the front page (above the fold!) and had a great time as always with Molly.


I'm not sure how long this link is live but Molly took some wonderful photos of the birds and banding process.

The excitement for the day was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  This species is only around in the winter and is not all that common especially so near to downtown.  It was a new species to be banded at Possum Long.  The red on the head is typically hidden so we moved a few feathers for the photo and to enjoy the "crown" of the kinglet.  This bird is so small - only weighing 6 grams which is just about the weight of a nickel!  Look at the soles of the feet - so bright!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We also banded 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Gray Catbird, a Palm Warbler, and a Northern Cardinal.  

Northern Cardinal

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I'd also like to share a photo sent to me by my friend Kathy Malone.  She was visiting recently and found a banded Northern Parula at Possum Long.  Her photo is exquisite!  Can you see the band? (Hint - right leg!)

Northern Parula
Photo by Kathy Malone

On November 16, we banded Painted Buntings at PB 2.  We banded 8 Painted Buntings and 2 Northern Cardinals.  We also recaptured an already banded Painted Bunting from Season 3.  

Next banding will be announced soon.  We have some Painted Bunting dates and then Thanksgiving. We will not be at Possum Long on November 22.  Watch upcoming posts.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 8, 11, and 13, 2016

Sometimes there is too much to do and so little time.  My apologies for being late posting this but at least there are a lot of birds to report!  Tuesday, at Possum Long, we moved operations closer to the pond and it paid off.  It was a warbler blitz:  6 species and 11 birds!  One Northern Parula, 1 Ovenbird, 1 Prairie, 2 Palm, 1 Black-throated Blue, and 5 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers. There was another warbler species recaptured - a Common Yellowthroat.  Also recaptured were 2 Painted Buntings and 2 House Wrens.

It seemed a bit late for the Ovenbird and the BT Blue but neither flagged as particularly rare on eBird.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (female)

Northern Parula
Photo by Pat Marshall

Prairie Warbler 
Photo by Pat Marshall


Palm Warbler

recaptured House Wren originally banded in 2015

On November 11, we were once again hosted at PB 27.  This location has two caged feeders that perfectly fit our traps.  We banded 9 new Painted Buntings and recaptured 3 more.  Two of the three recaptures were from Season Two (early 2015 - two seasons ago).  This is great data for us.  

Painted Bunting (glowing in the sun)
Photo by Pete Grannis

Painted Bunting
Photo by Pete Grannis

We did a supplemental session today (Nov 13).  We banded 5 new birds and recaptured 2.  We banded one Gray Catbird today.  It seems odd to be "missing" them but we hadn't banded many recently. Much different from Tuesday we only banded 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Extra bonuses were a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and an Eastern Phoebe, only our second banded at Possum Long

 Eastern Phoebe 

Gray Catbird

Next Tuesday session:  November 15.  Nets go up at 6:15 am.  Remember to find us closer to the pond.  We WILL NOT BE at Possum Long on 11/22.  Watch future posts for our return.

Friday, November 4, 2016

October 30 and November 1, 2016

On October 30 we returned to PB 61 and banded.  The wind was challenging and we are working on placing feeders so that we can catch more Painted Buntings that are there.  Despite the challenges we banded 3 new buntings and recaptured 2 from last spring.  We had quite a few incidental captures which incidentally added 2 new species to my banded list.  I really appreciate the hosts at PB 61 (and everywhere else!) as they make all of the research possible.  Incidental captures included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Gray Catbird, a Northern Mockingbird, a Common Yellowthroat, a House Sparrow, and the two new ones; Spot-breasted Oriole and Blackpoll Warbler.  The Blackpoll is rare this time of year as they tend to migrate south over the water, not land.  It is also getting late.  Typically they feed high in treetops so it was very good to band this one.

male Painted Bunting

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Mockingbird

Blackpoll Warbler

Spot-breasted Oriole

November 1 we banded at Possum Long.  We had a very good Painted Bunting day banding two new ones and recapturing two from previous seasons.  

We also banded a House Wren and two Black-throated Blue Warblers.  We recaptured the same White-eyed Vireo from 10/1/16 that had been banded in 2013.  It is still doing very well.  The Northern Cardinal that we recaptured was born this past summer.  It has now begun to replace its tail with adult feathers.  You can see the color change in the photo.  The feathers in the center are newer and more red than the outside ones that still show the browner color.

Northern Cardinal

Next banding will be Tuesday, November 8.  Nets go up at 6:15 am (time change folks!)  We may be closer to the pond if our net lanes have dried.  Expect Yellow-rumped Warblers!