Not a blockbuster day but definitely not a disappointment. The most interesting result of the day was that the majority of our captured birds were buntings, Indigo and Painted. Perhaps these grasses are paying off.
We get an early start. All of our nets are opened at least 30 minutes before sunrise every Sunday. Most of our birds are then captured from sunrise to a couple hours afterward and then things go quiet. With migration upon us we start getting birds in the dark. Today, the first bird captured was a Brown Thrasher and we had to utilize our headlamps just to read the band numbers.
Captured in the same net as the Thrasher was our first Cardinal of the day. This male was near another in the net but the other male escaped before we could get to it. Happens sometimes.
Later in the day we captured a female Cardinal. You might notice that both Cardinals are gripping twigs. We do this to keep them occupied so they don't clamp down on our tender flesh.
Then the buntings began to wake up. Andrew banded the first female Painted Bunting as Grace and her Dad, Bill, looked on. Though we caught many Painted Buntings, all of them were females. Everyone was hoping for a bright male. Oh, well.
Grace was reluctant to release one of the early birds but soon was willing to give it a go. Andrew points in the direction the bird should be released as Grace prepares to let it go. This bird was a female Indigo Bunting.
After the first rush of the morning captures, Susan and Grace head out to look for more birds.
Speaking of Indigo Buntings, they were plentiful and calling all over the riverside. Here, a female is lit up by the morning's golden glow.
We have captured Fall Indigo males before but none so bright as this one banded today.
It was still retaining a lot of indigo feathers on its breast and belly. Soon, the males will be much more dull brown.
As mentioned, we got no male Painted Buntings but we find the females just as gorgeous.
We also captured a number of Common Yellowthroats, mostly adult males. Love these birds even though they can cause us a difficult time getting them out of the nets. They tend to spin and get more tangled than other birds.
One male had a bent toe. It was rigid and was probably injured when the bird was younger. Otherwise, the bird was totally healthy and was a mature bird so the toe abnormality does not seem to cause any problems for this bird.
Another interesting adult male showed up a bit later. This male had black feathers going into the breast area and even had black feathers on the belly. Loads of black feathers! Compare where the black feathers normally stop on the bird two pictures above.
We had a nice visit with Frank, one of the rangers from the park (standing between Susan and Charles). He got to see several of the birds that were being banded and also was there to check up on a problem encountered earlier in the week.
The problem? While Frank was clearing some brush to try and get access to spray some of the Skunk Vine he was stung by a Yellow Jacket and got all swollen in the neck for a few days. Ironically, we knew nothing of this but right before Frank arrived Andrew was pulling out some Skunk Vine and was unknowingly standing right over the insect's nest before he knew it. He was stung 3 times and had to tear his shirt off to dislodge the rest of the attacking bugs.
Near the scene of the crime, Susan prays for the Skunk Vine to release our orange tree. That or she was just waiting for another bird to bring back...
One of our other favorite birds (O.K., they are all our favorites) was captured today. A White-eyed Vireo.
Sure, it looks real pretty but it was very feisty. It kept nipping at Andrew throughout the entire banding process.
We just wanted another nice photo so it had to be...controlled a bit more.
One last pet is given to this Yellowthroat before being released. A great end to a beautiful morning.
Next week we install a lot of native plants along with the banding. The transformation of the environment continues in earnest and we can't wait until the results start paying off in the future.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, October 17th.
All nets will be opened by 7:00 A.M.