Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March 24, 25, and 27, 2018 - SC bird!

Ok, so today is a three-for-one post.  We spent Saturday and Sunday at two very loyal Painted Bunting host locations.  Both had banding sessions earlier but still had unbanded birds. 

On Saturday we returned to PB 5.  We had brought this host a caged feeder much like the one on the Encouraging Painted Buntings Page on this blog.  It fits our traps so we were anxious to see how things were going.  We banded 3 new Painted Buntings and likely would have caught more but the Northern Cardinals thought it was their turn  We banded 6 cardinals and recaptured one.  We also banded 3 Indigo Buntings, a Common Ground-Dove, 2 Blue Jays and 2 Mourning Doves.

After a little while we also set up a net away from the caged feeder.  Good thing we did!!  We caught a Painted Bunting that we had not banded.  We reported this bird to the Bird Banding Laboratory where all banding data is stored/processed/analyzed.  The initial report was that the bird was banded in South Carolina in fall of 2015 as a young bird.  It is still green and we observed feathers that told us that it was an adult bird - a female.  "Foreign" recaptures like this are very rare.  The bird did not have any color bands and is likely NOT one of the ones from the breeding research being done in North Carolina.  We are anxiously waiting more information from the bander.

Indigo Bunting (SY) as told by the small dark feathers over the thumb

Indigo Bunting (ASY) as told by the blue edged small feathers over the thumb
Photos by Bill LaFramboise

Northern Cardinal - female with brood patch

The Indigo Buntings were a great illustration of aging this species.  The first photo is a SY (second year) bird born last summer.  The second is an ASY (After Second Year) adult.  Both are males.  

The cardinal is showing a brood patch and is likely nesting or possibly feeding nestlings.  The belly feathers are gone, the skin is swollen but likely diminishing as it has a wrinkled instead of a blistered appearance.  The brood patch forms to warm the eggs in the nest.  

On Sunday we returned to PB 27.  We banded 11 Painted Buntings.  One was so colorful that the host named it Joseph (and his coat of many colors).  The yellow feathers are a tad unexpected and even his tail was pretty colorful.  We banded 11 Painted Buntings and recaptured 4 from previous seasons.  (Yes, they do come back!)

Painted Buntings
Photos by Bill LaFramboise

On Tuesday we banded our scheduled session at Possum Long.  It was quite windy and the birds were either absent or really hunkered down.  We recaptured a Northern Cardinal and a Painted Bunting.  We also banded one new Gray Catbird.  We stayed long enough to talk with a visiting school group and then we closed up.  Year-round residents were there, a few Great Crested Flycatchers were back for the nesting season, and the only warbler seen was 1 Prairie Warbler. 

Next Possum Long banding will be April 3, 2018.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 19, 2018

Our last Possum Long session hints that migration may be picking up.  We had a lot of visitors including a preschool group, a smart young lady who was on spring break, and new and old friends.  I am thankful for my long term volunteers and the visitors who allow me to share this experience.

We banded 6 birds and recaptured 2.  The recaptures were a Gray Catbird from March of 2014 and a Painted Bunting from this past fall.  Hopefully their return to this location met their "fuel" needs as they overwintered somewhere and are getting ready to depart.

We banded our first Prairie Warbler of the season.  Although some over-winter here, we suspect (hope?) that this one was migrating through.  It was starting to build up some fat reserves to fuel its journey north.  Hard to see in the field but visible in hand are the rufous streaks on the back of this species.

Prairie Warbler
Photos by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded two other warblers:  a Yellow-rumped and a Palm.  These are winter residents in south Florida but still might be stopping at Possum Long.  The Palm Warbler was starting to develop its breeding colors - its rufous cap and yellower face and breast.

Palm Warbler
photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded three new Gray Catbirds.  Another capture was a male Northern Cardinal that we were unable to band.  It likely had a mite infestation that was causing its legs to enlarge.  We do not feature some of the injuries and illnesses we see but this one is pretty common especially in the Painted Buntings that we band.  Early on during our Possum Long banding we encountered another male Northern Cardinal with similar legs.  We caught it often and ended up calling him "Mr. Legs".  Since the bird could not be banded we can't be sure if this was the original Mr. Legs but it could be.  See post for November 8, 2012 - what do you think?????

Northern Cardinal

Next Possum Long session will be on Tuesday, March 27.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

March 18, 2018

On the 18th we returned to PB 10 which was one of our Season One sites.  It was a very quiet visit but still fun and informative.

We banded two new Painted Buntings.  We also had three recaptures which give us a lot of information.  One recapture was a male that we banded almost a year ago.  It was a young, green bird at that time but now shows its beautiful male plumage.  It was exceptionally bright and had a scattering of unexpected yellow patches on the breast and undertail.  We have seen this a lot but it is great to know the age of this bird (in its third year as banders add a year to ages in January).  Sometimes color changes are attributed to older birds but this one is on the young side.

male Painted Bunting with extra yellow feathers

We also had incidental captures of a Blue Jay and a Black-and-white Warbler.  The Black-and-white was born last summer and is just developing the black throat that indicates it is male. It is barely visible in the photo but you can see that for now it looks like a stripe but will become fully black.  

Black-and-white Warbler

Next Possum Long session will be on Tuesday, March 27.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

March 17, 2018

On Saturday we took a long distance drive to return to PB 61.  It was a great trip!  We banded 14 new Painted Buntings which is a great total for additional visits.  This location has been very good for incidental species and this time was no different.

We banded a Northern Parula that had lost its tail.  It was growing in and all of the feathers were in sheath.  The parula had been feeding at some type of flower as it had pollen on its head.  Birds can be  important pollinators.  You can see the tiny bit of yellow at the base of the bill.

Northern Parulas
Photos by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded a Blue Jay, a Common Grackle, an Indigo Bunting (only second one the hosts had ever observed in their yard), and a Palm Warbler.

One other fun incidental was a female Summer Tanager.  We suspect that this bird was feeding on bees that were in a nest box in the yard.

Summer Tanager
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Next Possum Long session will be on Tuesday, March 27.  Nets go up at 6:45 am.

Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16, 2018

Today we returned to PB 46 where we have caught our highest number of Painted Buntings at a single location - now over 150!  This yard is phenomenal!  It has the right plants, food, and water and a great set-up for nets.   The hosts are great to work with and they have been feeding for years.

We banded a total of 29 new Painted Buntings and recaptured a few from earlier in Season 5 as well as some from earlier seasons.   One bird was very cute and the photo does not do it justice.  It had one yellow feather on each side of its head but not in symmetrical positions.  Likely just some feather replacement after a small bit of shedding.

Painted Bunting with random yellow feather

We also banded eight incidental birds.  There was a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, 4 Gray Catbirds, an Indigo Bunting, and a Northern Cardinal.  

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Indigo Bunting - female
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Season Five Painted Bunting total:  242

We have two more Painted Bunting appointments before the next session at Possum Long on MONDAY, March 19.  Nets go up at 6:45.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 13, 2018

Finally caught up.  If you have just landed on this entry there are 3 more recent posts to read!  We are all anticipating spring migration. This Possum Long session has us more hopeful. 

We banded three new birds and recaptured 5 more.  We banded a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Gray Catbird, and a new Painted Bunting. 

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is showing wear on its head that reveals the yellow that is seen in its breeding plumage.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Our recaptures were 2 Painted Buntings that were banded this past fall.  Likely they remained in the vicinity of Possum Long.  We also recaptured a Blue Jay, a Gray Catbird, another Yellow-rumped Warbler, and an American Redstart.  The redstart was banded this past October and likely was not at Possum Long for the winter.  Nice to have it return.  We had identified it as a young male and that was further verified as it is developing more black on its face.  Recaptures give us a lot of information.  

American Redstart
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also saw more warblers moving through.  Numbers are much higher than what over-wintered.  These are the more southern breeding birds that go north early to claim their territories.  Those from farther north have to wait a bit more.  The species seen were Black-and White Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Parula, and the recaptured redstart.  Hopefully the less common southern breeders show up next week.

The next session will be on MONDAY (March 19) instead of Tuesday.  This is a one-time change.  Nets go up at 6:45.

March 10, 2018

On March 10. we returned to PB 72.  This yard had a good combination of over-wintering birds and some returning migrants/summer residents!  It is encouraging!

We banded 4 Painted Buntings and recaptured one from last year. Several more were seen. 

Our first bird was an American Goldfinch; I think the only one so far this year.  We typically do not get this species at Possum Long so it is fun to band them at Painted Bunting sites.  This was a winter-plumaged male that was just beginning to turn more yellow.  The black (not greyish) wings indicate that it is male.  It will soon develop more black on the head as well as more yellow coloring.

American Goldfinch
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded 2 Gray Catbirds and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Flying over the property was a Purple Martin and a Swallow-tailed Hawk.  Always good to see!!

Catch-up post three.  Next session information on next post.

March 6, 2018

Another catching-up post here.  On Tuesday March 6, we banded at Possum Long.  We are starting to see a few more species that might be moving north to this location from over-wintering nearby or actually going on their way.  There really isn't any proof of which it is.  The catbirds that we caught earlier in the winter may have stayed at Possum Long or they may have gone farther south and came back through on their trip north.  Some of the Gray Catbirds are showing some fat accumulation which indicates they will be moving. 

It was a Gray Catbird day.  We banded two new ones and recaptured 4 more.

Gray Catbird
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

One of the recaptures was from March, 2014.  This means that this bird has flown up or down the east coast EIGHT times and returned to the same spot as 4 years ago!  Isn't migration fascinating.

As we wait for more species of migrants I especially appreciate the volunteers who come out week after week and are patient through sessions like this that seem slow.  They are the backbone of this project!

This is a catch-up post.  Next session details are on the March 13 entry.

March 5, 2018

My how time flies and I have four more updates to catch up on.  On March 5 we went to a new location,  our 75th!  I must say that all of our hosts have been so fun to meet.  This time was no different.  The habitat of this yard supported many buntings as well as so many butterflies.  It is good to meet kindhearted folks like here.

This location is within a half mile of another site as the bird flies but a bit farther by road.  There is a little water separating the two but it will be great to see if these two locations share birds!

We banded 12 Painted Buntings and had 7 incidentals.  A Northern Parula was first catch and was a treat as always.

Northern Parula
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Painted Bunting (male)
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Other incidentals included a Gray Catbird, a Northern Cardinal, 2 Blue Jays and 2 Common Grackles.

On our way home we went to Loxahatchee NWR to check on a Vermilion Flycatcher that has over wintered.  It was nice to see how much more red it has than it did in November.

Vermilion Flycatcher
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

This is a catch-up post.  Next Possum Long Banding will be listed on the March 13th entry.

Friday, March 2, 2018

March 1, 2018

On Thursday we returned to PB 6.  We had not really planned this but timing worked out and we chose to go.  There were many birds at the feeders and we banded a lot of them.  We would have gotten more Painted Buntings but the Common Grackles frequented the nets and kept the buntings hidden.

We banded 5 Painted Buntings and recaptured one.  The recaptured one was from Season One.  It was an adult male at the time it was banded so it is at least 7 years old.

Painted Bunting
One of our original banded males

We also banded 2 Chipping Sparrows, 4 Indigo Buntings, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 3 Common Ground-Doves, 3 Common Grackles (and released many more unbanded).

We recaptured an Indigo Bunting we had banded exactly 1 year prior (3/1/17) and an Ovenbird that was the next band in that sequence but was banded on March 16, 2017.  

Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Chipping Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Common Grackle
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Next Possum Long session will be on Tuesday, March 6.  Nets go up at 6:45.  

Note:  Banding will NOT occur on Tuesday, March 20.  However it will be on Monday, March 19.

February 28, 2018

On Wednesday we returned to PB 65.  It was a a terrific session with a surprise.  Not a new bird this time but quite a treat.

We banded 9 Painted Buntings.  We had time to get several great photos.

Painted Bunting - male
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Painted Bunting
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

In addition to the 9 buntings we banded 2 Blue Jays and recaptured a Northern Cardinal from last year.

Among the 9 buntings was our surprise.  I have never seen this coloring on a Painted Bunting before.  It is NOT molting so it is not turning male.  In fact the feathers tell us it is an adult and the wing length suggests that is male.  So, an adult male with odd colors.  Next one thinks of things that might change feather coloring including genetic "mistakes" that either change the colors themselves or the hormones that help determine color.  What is hard to fathom is that the blue color on males' heads is not due to pigment.  The blue color on birds is made by changing light.  It is a complex mix of reflection, refraction, and feather structure.  So did the feather structure get changed?  It is certainly less red than a typically colored male.

Photos by Bill LaFramboise

This bird has sparked a lot of discussion.  I will be trying to find out more about this coloration.

February 27, 2018

We banded at Possum Long on Tuesday.  Numbers are picking up and we are starting to see and hear a few more birds.  It was very frustrating to hear but not see what might have been a Golden-winged Warbler singing!  The song is a very distinctive buzzy "bee-buzz-buzz".  There was still a Summer Tanager around.  We also had many delightful visitors who I hope continue to return to see migration progressing.

While we were setting up nets one visitor came early to photograph the Wood Duck in the nest box.  Well, it wasn't there but this was!!

Eastern Screech-Owl
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Pretty early we recaptured an Ovenbird and banded our first Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Later we had 4 Yellow-rumps in the net at the same time.  We banded a total of 8!

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded 3 Gray Catbirds and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Gray Catbird 
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

the red belly of a Red-bellied Woodpecker
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Another item of interest was this cute baby turtle.  Linda brought him over for all to see and then returned it to where it had been found.  Enjoy!

Next scheduled banding at Possum Long will be on March 6.  Nets go up at 6:45.  

NOTE:  There will be no banding at Possum Long on March 20.  However we will band on Monday, March 19 instead.