Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 2016 It's here and may it continue!

After a great day migrant birding in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, Bill and I did an impromptu session at Possum Long on Sunday (9/25).  Though we did not catch a lot (Ovenbirds and Northern Cardinals), the birds on the property, high up in the canopy, were fantastic!  Probably my second best day ever at Possum Long.

Young male Northern Cardinal

We found 23 species of birds including one property record.  The two Baltimore Orioles we saw may not be the first ever there but it is the first we are aware of.  Chimney Swifts were flying over.  We found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are back.  We had six species of warblers:  Ovenbird, Worm-eating, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-and-white, and Pine.  Bill flushed a Chuck-will's-widow and it landed long enough for me to see it.  There were several Summer Tanagers and a Brown Thrasher!  I couldn't wait to go back Monday.

On Monday, there seemed to be fewer birds and different ones.  I did find 2 additional species of warblers:  Cape May and Prairie.  One of the orioles remained as did the Brown Thrasher.  Red-eyed Vireos were evident.  I had a pretty good list considering I only had an hour to look.

So, Tuesday morning found me hopeful but I was worried that only 5 nets might not be enough to catch birds.  I would never do more than I thought I could safely handle alone.  When what to my wondering eyes should appear but Nancy Price, returned from her grand adventure with greetings from Jane!  I am so thankful she was there to help.  We added more nets and hoped for the best.  It was decidedly quieter than Sunday but migrants were around.  Even George had migrated back from Nova Scotia!  First Nancy brought me a Swainson's Thrush - first thrush since spring.

Swainson's Thrush

underwing Swainson's Thrush

Not many birder's get to see the light band on the underwing of this species.

We caught two hatch year Northern Cardinals but they went unbanded as I didn't have the proper size band (waiting for an order to come in!).

Next we caught a White-eyed Vireo.  This is a young bird that has yet to develop that pure white eye.

These birds can look a bit intimidating.  They are assertive birds and tell you so!

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

Right after the vireo, Nancy brought in a Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Also a young bird as told by the white patch on his throat.  

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Last but not least we got one of the many Red-eyed Vireos on the property today.  This bird was also young, the eye had not fully turned red.  You can just about make out the hook on the beak typical of many vireo species.  

Red-eyed Vireo

All in all a day I was very happy with.

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, October 4.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20, 2016

I ran another solo session today with five nets so maybe it was a good thing that things were quiet.  I recaptured 2 of our young cardinals.  Other than that the only migrant I saw was a female Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are on the property but we are waiting for more......

female Northern Cardinal recapture
band hidden behind thumb

You know it was quiet since I had time to photograph a flower.  Pretty and too nice to not share.

Next regularly scheduled banding:  Tuesday, September 27.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 17 & 18

We had a pretty good session on Saturday.  It was good enough to prompt us to retry on Sunday.  Saturday won.  We banded 8 birds - 3 Ovenbirds, 3 Northern Cardinals,  a Worm-eating Warbler and finally, the new to the property, Carolina Wren.  On Sunday we banded 2 Ovenbirds and a Northern Cardinal.  Most of the cardinals have been young birds.  Here's a few of photos to show the range of maturity.  There were many differences in molt also.

young male Northern Cardinal not much left of juvenal appearance

female Northern Cardinal - young but mostly changed

Young male Northern Cardinal - younger than the first photo

The Ovenbirds have been consistent.  We have passed the total of Ovenbirds banded in the spring but that was quite easy as we had banded so few birds.


We banded a Worm-eating Warbler which was the only one since last fall.  Love the warm tan color of this warbler.

Worm-eating Warbler

And finally we banded the Carolina Wren that has been seen and heard on the property recently.  As mentioned before, this is a first for the property since we have been banding there.  It is a little ragged from molting.

Carolina Wren

Next banding is our regularly scheduled Tuesday session barring heavy rain.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 12 - 13, 2016

On September 12, with the help of the hosts from PB 46 in Jupiter, we moved the caged Painted Bunting feeders back to Possum Long.  How can I ever thank these folks?  They have been so supportive by hosting us, coming to every event, and then driving to Stuart to help!  I can truly say I meet the nicest folks through this project.

Yesterday's (9/13) banding session was hopeful but not too productive.  After some rain, I set up 5 nets and recaptured an Ovenbird from Saturday's effort.  It was SO quiet on the property; I didn't even hear or see a Fish Crow!  I think that's a first.

What I did see were a few warbler species - Ovenbird, Black-and-white, Yellow-throated and the first of season Cape May.  There is hope!

Of much interest was an email from a bander in Ontario.  The Long Point Bird Observatory banded a vagrant Painted Bunting.  They have outfitted this bird with a very small transmitter (0.2 grams!) that will tell them where this bird is heading!!  Can you imagine it showing up at one of your feeders? Watch for a leg band and hopefully they will tell us an area it is visiting.  For more information see http://motus.org/  Remember report all leg bands!

I am looking for your reports of returning banded birds.  Report band colors (Upper left, lower left; upper right, lower right) and if the bird is male or female.  At this point returning green birds are female!  Email keepbirding2@yahoo.com

Next banding session will be September 20.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 10, 2016

We did one more practice session today before Fall Opening Day scheduled for September 13.  More birds today and hopefully more to come.  Today we banded 6 new birds:  2 Northern Cardinals, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and 2 Ovenbirds.  We caught two others that went unbanded; an Ovenbird that we had banded last week and another cardinal that had leg issues that we did not want to put a band around. Typically this leg condition is due to mites but this bird seemed fairly clean of them.

We were greeted by the calls of an Eastern Screech-Owl this morning as we put up the nets.  Always a treat.

The Northern Cardinals were all youngsters born this summer.  There was a span of development that was nice to see so they were likely not siblings.

young Northern Cardinals

The bills of these two youngsters show different progression with the one on the left still having a dark beak of a hatchling and the one on the right progressing to a more adult looking bill.  The third cardinal that we did not band was almost entirely in "grown-up" plumage and had an almost all orange bill.  

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

We rarely catch a gnatcatcher and today we caught two.  What a little bird!  With weights of 5 and 6 grams, these are the smallest birds we get.  Though a few breed here, it is nice to have higher numbers around and to hear their wheezy call notes.  Both were adult birds.

Both of the Ovenbirds were born this nesting season.  

Migrants on the property included at least two American Redstarts, a Worm-eating Warbler, and a Red-eyed Vireo.  The variety should keep improving.  

Next banding is Fall Opening Day; weather permitting (no hard rain).  Net go up at 6:30.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 3 and 4, 2016

We visited PB 60 on Saturday, September 3.  They had the first Painted Bunting to return (7/31) plus had more buntings on the property both unbanded and banded (2).  As in previous "early bird" attempts, we saw them but did not catch any.

We did however have 8 incidental captures.  After our visit there the hosts actually saw a Red-headed Woodpecker at their yard!  We banded 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Blue Jays, 2 Mourning Doves, 2 American Redstarts, and 1 Northern Cardinal.

Blue Jay molting head feathers

and tail feathers

Mourning Dove
born recently as told by the edging on the wing coverts

Red-bellied Woodpecker
molting male

Northern Cardinal
molting head feathers

American Redstart
female born this past summer (limited yellow patch in wing)

Red-bellied Woodpecker visitor
Photo by PB 60 host

On the September 4, we banded at Possum Long.  These training sessions are important so we can be fully ready for the migrants that will arrive.  As noted above, some like the American Redstarts are present already.  We banded 3 birds.  The Ovenbird is a migrant.  The Blue Jay and Northern Cardinal are likely resident.  We also detected the Carolina Wren again.  Hope it remains!


Blue Jay
born this past summer - note fleshy gape on the bill, feathers still molting in

Next banding:  Weather permitting is September 13.  Not being triskaidekaphobic I am hoping it will be our lucky opening day.  Nets open at 6:30 am.