Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 24, 25, 27, 28, and 29, 2017

It's that time of year.  The Painted Buntings are leaving and have already been seen in South Carolina and likely all over their breeding areas.  Not to worry, some are still here.  Feeder keepers may notice a decline (your winter resident birds leaving) and then another increase (birds moving through). Feeders are very important now as birds have mapped these "gas stations" for their way home.  Those folks with banded birds will know when migrants pass through.

We had a busy time since the last post.  On March 24 we banded in LaBelle, our first time in Hendry county.  We banded 5 Painted Buntings and had incidental captures of Northern Cardinal, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Indigo Buntings.

Indigo Bunting with head molting in new feathers

Indigo Bunting - after second year male

Great Crested Flycatcher

On March 25, we presented banding as a scientific tool to a class from the Audubon of Martin County's Audubon Academy.  We only caught one new bird and had one recapture but those two were representative of all we do.  The Gray Catbird is always a great teaching bird.  The recaptured Painted Bunting gave everyone a glance at color banding and we were able to relate many things we have learned both from the Status and Distribution study at Possum Long as well as the Painted Bunting Banding Project.

On March 27, we visited a potential new host whose yard did not work for using nets.  We brought over a temporary caged feeder in hopes that we can trap there before the birds move on.

On March 28, we conducted our Possum Long banding.  We banded three new birds (Gray Catbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Northern Cardinal).  This quiet day has left us hoping that migration will pick up.  Actually migration is underway but some of the first birds through have also overwintered so it's hard to tell migrant versus visitor.  The Great Crested Flycatchers might have overwintered nearby but likely have moved in from elsewhere and they are actively starting to pair up and start the very beginning of nesting.

Northern Cardinal

Great Crested Flycatcher

On March 29, I returned to PB 69 where I banded another male and female Painted Bunting.  

Painted Bunting

Next regularly scheduled Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, April 4.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 19, 20, and 21, 2017

March 19 was a super busy day as we visited two locations.  We returned to PB 64 in the morning and PB 13 in the afternoon.  Many thanks to Pat Marshall who worked at both sessions and the next day too!

At PB 64 we banded 9 new Painted Buntings as well as incidental captures of a Mourning Dove, a Palm Warbler, FIVE Northern Cardinals. and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Best news of all was recapturing all six of the birds we banded the previous year.  Some locations do get 100% returns!

Palm Warbler

Northern Cardinal - male

Painted Bunting - male

At PB 13 we were pretty hampered by the rising wind and a few grackles.  Despite that we banded 7 new buntings and recaptured one.  Incidental captures included another Northern Cardinal and 3 of the Common Grackles.  It is interesting to me that even though these 2 locations are fairly close, they do not seem to share birds.

Monday found us at PB 37.  We had last visited in Season Two and had banded 22 buntings then. This visit we banded 13 new buntings and recaptured 2.  The only incidental capture was a Blue Jay. Our host is an great photographer and she allowed us to share the release she caught!  We have two other great photos by her which will appear in presentations or maybe in a later blog.

Releasing the Painted Bunting after banding

Very colorful male Painted Bunting underside

Blue Jay holding his bands hostage

Our regular Possum Long session on March 21 went well but migrants are yet to show up in any numbers.  We banded a new Painted Bunting, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Blue Jay.  We also recaptured another Painted Bunting, an Ovenbird, and a Northern Cardinal.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Blue Jay - wing showing young feathers

Next regularly scheduled banding at Possum Long will be March 28.  Nets go up at 7:15.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 12, 14, and 15, 2017

On March 12, we banded at PB 10 where we finally caught the birds that were present!  The host reported only 1 unbanded green after we left.  Sometimes we are not that lucky.  We banded 10 Painted Buntings and recaptured the two that had been banded in December.  When people tell me that banding will scare their birds off I remember times like this.

We had 6 incidental bandings:  2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Common Ground-Doves, 1 Great Crested Flycatcher, and a Northern Parula.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

On March 14, we had our regular banding session at Possum Long.  We did well with 2 Painted Buntings; one a recapture and one a new bird.  Both were green so it afforded us the perfect opportunity for a side-by-side photo.  The key feathers are where I am pointing - that bird is a female because the feathers have a green edging.  The bird on the left shows grayer feathers in the same area.  It was born last summer.

Painted Buntings
Photo by Pat Marshall

(a cropped version of the above)

We also banded a Northern Parula and a Downy Woodpecker.  Birds are moving through the property with a recent report of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Northern Parula
Photo by Pete Grannis

Downy Woodpecker - female
Photo by Pat Marshall

We returned to DuPuis Wildlife Area (PB 6) several times but caught the most birds on March 15. We banded 8 Painted Buntings and recaptured quite a few.  At least one male was from Season 1!!  We also banded a new Chipping Sparrow and a recaptured one from 2 years ago.  The Clay-colored Sparrow was also still present.

Many birds are using the caged feeder.  The Painted and Indigo Buntings LOVE it.  There are also Chipping Sparrows that use it and the Clay-colored was in it for a few minutes.  Also a Gray Catbird managed to squeeze in.  I don't think they eat seed very often.  

Caged feeder (plans in Encouraging Painted Buntings page on this blog)
You can see a male and a green I hope.

Next scheduled Possum Long banding:  Tuesday, March 21.  Nets go up at 7:30 am.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 6 and 7, 2017

Monday we returned to DuPuis (PB 6) for another attempt to band some of the unbanded birds we saw on March 1.  This visit we only managed recaptures but the great news and data are that some of those birds were from Seasons 1 and 2.  The birds were doing fine and on a few we had to replace color bands that had fallen off or were faded.

We also caught a few incidental Chipping Sparrows.  The excitement was that among the Chipping Sparrows, Pete and Jean noticed one that looked different.  Different it was - it was a Clay-colored Sparrow (photo below).  What great spotting that led to a life looks for some and a few new state and/or county species seen.

Painted Bunting - male

Painted Bunting female (know because as a recapture we know it is over 4 years old!)

Chipping Sparrow

We also recaptured 2 Chipping Sparrows from 2 years ago, banded on the same dates!

Clay-colored Sparrow (right) with 2 Chipping Sparrows
Photo by Jean Potvin

Today, Possum Long just wasn't as exciting as yesterday.  In fact we did not capture any birds.  This is only the 7th time in 5 years that we had that happen.  Wind was a big factor as the birds can see the nets moving.  It was also raptor day with 2 nesting Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 nesting Osprey, 3 newly arrived flyover Swallow-tailed Kites, and 2 Cooper's Hawks!!  Better luck in the next week or so as sooner or later migrants will come through.

Next scheduled banding:  Tuesday, March 14.  Nets go up at 7:30 am.