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.