Sunday, February 27, 2011

Recaps and Surprises

A number of new (human) visitors made their way into the banding area today and we all had a great time watching birds and even catching a few. Weather is nice and warm, finally, and birds are preparing to feed as much as possible before heading out. However, most birds were keeping high in the treetops so we didn't catch a ton of birds.

Mostly, we had recaptures, including a Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wren

Soon, we were also getting a couple of Northern Cardinals, including this gorgeous female.

Northern Cardinal

Drawing a lot of attention during the morning was the pair of Barred Owls who are preparing for the next brood. They were nuzzling on a branch near the nest tree and later shared a branch for resting.

Barred Owl

Here is a cropped version of the male...

Barred Owl

...and one of the female.

Barred Owl

Andrew took a walk out toward the lake. Not much out there today. However, he did nearly step on a Rat Snake as he returned back to the net lanes.

Rat Snake

A couple birds were witnessed bouncing or escaping from nets through the day. Black and White Warbler, Mourning Dove, and Brown Thrasher all were this close... But we did grab a Gray Catbird soon enough.

Gray Catbird

We enlisted Gail, a new visitor, to help record data on our Catbird and she was rewarded by being allowed to release the bird back into the wild.

Gray Catbird

Soon, friend Paul Hueber and Gail headed over to the Lake Lotus boardwalk and found an American Bittern in the lake.

American Bittern

Regardless of that great find, they missed our Bird-of-the-Day five minutes after they left us. A female Painted Bunting!

Painted Bunting

Maddie, our new recruit, got to release the Bunting.

Painted Bunting and kids

While recording data, we discovered a Ground Skink hiding amongst the items on the storage table.

Ground Skink

One more surprise awaited us before the day ended. We captured a male Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler down near the pier.

Myrtle Warbler

A nice addition and only the 2nd Myrtle banded here. We are improving the habitat to hopefully bring in more soon. William got to release this lovely male Myrtle Warbler.

Myrtle Warbler

Watching the weather for next Sunday. Some say 60% rain, some say 30%. Wind might also play a role. Stay tuned. We will update the plan mid-Saturday.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 6th

All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Orlando Wetlands Festival a Success!

Settle back for a long post.

A long day but a very rewarding day. A lot of birds and a lot of educated visitors. Overall the best OWP festival we have ever participated in. Having a new spot (actually just a few yards from our initial spot years ago) and the addition of the new Education Center helped to focus more visitors toward us and they got to witness many birds being banded and got to learn a lot about banding and results gathered from it.

Andrew arrived just at dawn to survey the area and to record the setting moon to the West. Nets would be set up along the berms just ahead.

Setting Moon

Without our knowledge, signs were posted at several locations signaling that we would be doing the banding over at the wetlands so that visitors over at the main event at Ft. Christmas would know we were going to be there.


As we set net poles, we noticed a Gopher Tortoise burrow nearby. Later in the morning it would try to find a way out among the crowds.

Gopher Tortoise

During the initial setup, Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles visited the bird feeders already present at the Education Center. We were hoping to catch some but the foot traffic made it unlikely. Still the Red-winged Blackbirds stuck around for awhile calling all the while.

Red-winged Blackbird

Here, Richard sets up information across from the banding table.


We started the morning by catching some Gray Catbirds and a couple of Myrtle Warblers. Not long afterwards we caught a Northern Cardinal. Surprisingly, this Cardinal already had a band. A recapture from our banding demo in 2007! Great Data. Then came the onslaught of Myrtles which made up a huge percentage of the species captured during the day. Before midday, Abe and Maggie arrived to help band some "Yellow-rumps" as most most folks know Myrtles as.

Myrtle Warbler

Why Yellow-rump?

Myrtle Warbler

Maria made a welcome return to the fold along with Jasmine and handed out a lot of information to visitors before heading over toward the Ft. Christmas venue. Along the way they discovered interesting sights like alligators...




...and Boa Constrictors!

Boa Constrictor

Once Maria headed back to the table she discovered a Common Ground Dove lurking in the trees.

Common Ground Dove

Back at the table we are still catching Myrtle Warblers. Surprisingly, even more than in the morning. For this capture, Abe checks for fat on one of our migrants.

Myrtle Warbler

We were fortunate enough to have birds in hand at almost every time a group of visitors stopped by. Even better, we caught the Bird-of-the-Day right when the biggest group debarked from the tour bus. It was a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! Andrew prepares to band our new bird in front of 40 visitors.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

A very unexpected bird for the day. The crowd was thrilled.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Jasmine got to release the young bird back toward the marsh once all of the data was recorded.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The rest of the day was filled with Myrtle Warblers, one after another. Good enough to show each wave of visitors how we band our tiny wanderers.


Data is recorded, information is given out and everyone has a great time.


Once the birds are processed they are set for release. Here, Richard helps a visitor release a warbler back into the marsh.


When the next bird is brought in, Andrew shows the kids how we weigh them in the bag (and then just the bag) to get an accurate weight of the birds. Most Myrtles are around 12 grams.


Another visitor gets to release one of our newly banded warblers.


One last interesting find of the day before we folded up the day (we ended up with 36 birds) the gang found this insect. A Sculpted Pine Borer beetle. Very cool. We know it is a Chalcophora species but if anyone has a more specific genera, feel free to pass it along.


A great day. News seems to be that all who attended had a wonderful time, visitors and volunteers alike. With a few tweaks we will make next year even better!

Back to Lake Lotus next Sunday. Birds are still massing for a trip back home.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, February 27th

All nets will be opened by 6:23 A.M.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Birds are Filling Up

Hopefully, this is the last round of frost that we will have to endure for the season. It started forming as we set nets before dawn and lasted for a while. Many birds were present but most were staying up in the treetops.

Ground hanging birds were around, however, like our recap Brown Thrasher.

Brown Thrasher

Thought we had banded every Cardinal around here but we still have been catching new members of the local flocks lately. It is always enjoyable to get a new bite from a newly banded male.

Northern Cardinal

Just down the net lanes we also got a new Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are still common during this run so it is always nice to get a new one to add to the inventory. A few were also seen in the trees sporting bands showing that those here are liking it around here for Winter.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Though secretive, we still get a few House Wrens during our days.

House Wren

Bird-of-the-Day belongs to our Swamp Sparrow. The first captured for banding this season.

Swamp Sparrow

We usually get them earlier in the season so it was nice to get one before they move on. Seems this one wants to go back to the pier zone!

Swamp Sparrow

Maggie caught a couple good shots through the morning, including this Raccoon. They were present throughout the day.


A great sign that Spring is just around the corner, Maggie also got a nice shot of a Ladybug along the trials.


We look forward to giving demos for many visitors during the Wetlands Festival next Saturday!
Next Banding Day: Saturday, February 19th at Orlando Wetlands. Not sure about Sunday this week. Might be too tired!

All nets will be opened by 7:35 A.M.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Foiled Again

Forecasters. Grrrrrrrrrrrr....

Rain was suppose to hit late in the day. Nope. 8:30.

We had to close up early, all 3 of us, but we did get 8 birds. Mostly Cardinals again.

Northern Cardinal

We also nabbed a couple of Catbirds and we did get a recap White-eyed Vireo so that was nice.

Northern Cardinal

Many birds were around the pier but we didn't get any birds in the new net yet. I will update with photos when I have more time.

A lot of birds seem to be busy preparing for the turn North. We shall see.

NOTE: Watching the temps again. Could be back in the upper 30s by Sunday morning.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 13th.

All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.