Sunday, November 27, 2011

Viva Variety!

Well, this is a change. On many levels. First off, we aren't use to our capture rates going up in November. Things are generally leveling out as December and the colder weather arrives. However, our numbers have been above average the past couple of weeks. Not complaining.

Secondly, we caught a wide variety of species today, including a first timer which would have to make it today's Bird-of-the-Day. So, lets dive into the morning!

It was an overcast morning as an approaching cold front headed our way but the winds remained calm. The dawn chorus was loud but brief. A single Barred Owl sighting consisted of the bird flushing near the river and them making weird, guttural noises and then disappearing for the day. Our first bird of the morning was a new male Cardinal. Cardinals have been absent for the past few weeks so it was nice to hear and capture them again today.

Northern Cardinal

Also returning to the net lanes are the Catbirds. We captured a couple of new juveniles this morning, told by their light colored mouth linings.

Gray Catbird

If you look closely at the birds in the wild you can often see the rusty under-tail coverts. Here is a close-up.

Gray Catbird

Wren were very vocal today, including more House Wrens up and down the lanes. Here, Christine arrives at the table as we process a returning House Wren.

House Wren

Carolina Wrens also were back in force and we recaptured an adult at mid-morning.

Carolina Wren

We were busy enough today so that even Susan got a chance to process a bird. We weigh the birds in the bag first and then subtract the weight of the bag again after the bird is removed to get a proper weight of the bird.


Numerous Ruby-crowned Kinglets were caught today including a few females...

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

...and our returning male which we caught last week and have recaptured several times since his first banding over a year ago.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

As the daylight increased, Maria found a bunch of caterpillars on a pine near the river.

Red-headed Pine Sawfly

These turned out to be Red-headed Pine Sawflies. They can be destructive to young or stressed pines so we are informing the rangers of their presence and will determine how to deal with them if we have to. Still, they are rather pretty.

Red-headed Pine Sawfly

Also discovered was a strangely colored caterpillar farther down the lanes. No clue as to the ID but we have found other individuals with parasites on them before so this may be the case here.

Red-headed Pine Sawfly

One nice surprise of the morning was an Ovenbird. Haven't seen one for a couple months.


Jasmine got to release the Ovenbird. Seems like she is cold this morning!


Joining Jasmine was Jesica who was also bundled up and trying to stay awake. Thanks for coming out. Hope you had fun.


While at the table, Maria found a Lady Beetle larva crawling on the tackle box we store gear in. Amazing that they go from this stage to the cute little bugs we all marvel at as children.

Lady Beetle

Suddenly, as we thought it might grow quiet, Susan and Andrew made it down to the end of the lane to discover a wonderful sight. 5 birds all in Net 13. All within a 3 foot radius of one another and all different species! Must have been a feeding flock or one bird got caught and called out in alarm which drew in the other birds. One of the birds was our nemesis Eastern Phoebe (because it had been teasing us for a couple weeks right at the net).

Eastern Phoebe

Another great capture was a male Downy Woodpecker. We have caught several this year as their numbers are increasing.

Downy Woodpecker

Jasmine looks on as we prepare to release our latest prize.

Downy Woodpecker

One warbler that Andrew has been seeing for the past few weeks finally landed in our hands. Our first Orange-crowned Warbler!

Orange-crowned Warbler

Andrew was delighted to be so busy on a final November weekend.


The noisiest bird of the bunch was one of the local Tufted Titmice. It took a bite on every opportunity. We still love them, just the same.

Tufted Titmouse

Bird-of-the-Day? We have been watching Pine Warblers for the past few weeks and they are local birds but they almost always stay up near the tops of the trees. It was a great joy to catch a male Pine Warbler this morning.

Pine Warbler

As the morning wound down, Richard banded another new Cardinal, this one a juvenile male.

Northern Cardinal

Rounding out the photos, a Great-blue Heron rests across the river as we wind up the day.

Great-blue Heron

Overall, a very nice morning. Especially for the end of November. Typically we only capture a few birds this time of year so it was excellent to get so many new and interesting species this weekend.

Can't wait to see what December brings!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 4th.

All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Day of Recaps

Birds were unusually quiet today but, surprisingly, we caught nearly 3 times the birds we have for the past two weeks. Even more interestingly, 2/3s of the birds captured today were originally banded anywhere from 9 to 12 months ago.

House Wrens led the biggest totals with a couple new birds and a few recaps. Some were from a few weeks ago.

House Wren

We have been watching the calendar for the return of Hermit Thrushes and they did not disappoint. We captured 2 Hermits today, both recaptures.

Hermit Thrush

And, as always, we recite our mantra on thrushes this time of year, "Tail, tail, tail!" Other brown thrushes have brown tails and Hermits have a more reddish coloration. Both thrushes were captured mere feet from where we first caught them last Winter.

Hermit Thrush

We also got one of the locals again. A Carolina Wren banded earlier in the season. Oddly, locals have been absent for a while. Where are the Cardinals?

Carolina Wren

Most birds stay high up again but we did get some Ruby-crowned Kinglets, including a female early on.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Better still, we recaptured a male from a year ago. Love to see those bright red feathers!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Throw in a new Gray Catbird and we end up with a nice mid-November day of banding. Off to eat some other type of bird before the next scheduled day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 27th.

All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sparrow Time!

Still pretty quiet out here but we figured it was about time for the sparrows to arrive. First bird captured was the Bird-of-the-Day. A Swamp Sparrow.

Swamp Sparrow

All of our banded sparrows are caught down near the pier. Once the sparrows return they are often heard down in the marshy part of the lake so it is always nice to get some in the nets.

Swamp Sparrow

Most of the birds stayed way up in the treetops again but we did get another female Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

We snagged another Catbird. Same bird twice, in fact.

Gray Catbird

While waiting for birds to start moving, Andrew watches the marsh for activity.


Out on the sandbar in the lake, Common Gallinules (just changed back from Moorhen) were about the only thing out on the water.

Common Gallinule

Back at the table, Andrew and Charles process another bird.

Drew and Charles

A surprise guest joined us just below the banding table. A raccoon was trying to find a way back to the woods but wasn't too afraid to wait out a photo shoot.


We added a House Wren to the list for the morning but we were even happier to see a Zebra-wing Butterfly. Their numbers have fluctuated a lot over the past few years. In fact, they have become hard to find lately.

Zebra-wing Butterfly

Another often overlooked flyer is actually rather pretty. Especially in this shot. A Long-tailed Skipper.

Long-tailed Skipper

Warmer weather is back but should moderate by next weekend.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 20th.

All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Even Quieter

The weather was cloudy with a few sprinkles in waves and the winds were gusting from time to time so we were not expecting much activity today. The Sun did not even make an appearance until 9 AM. You would think it would have discouraged the mosquitoes, but it didn't. So, we watch and we wait.

First up for the morning was another new young Brown Thrasher. Seems to be a nice family living down near the end of the lanes.

Brown Thrasher

Most of the bunitngs departed a couple weeks ago so it was nice to see that a few stuck around. We recaptured an Indigo and a Painted Bunting today.

Painted Bunting

Down near the lake, the Salt-bush trees (Baccharis halimifolia) are in full bloom.


The Climbing Hempweed (Mikania scandens) is also making a pretty showing in several locations around the lanes.


Though not common over on our side of the river, there is some Milkweed blooming. Milkweed means Monarchs!


With so many flowering flora around, the fauna is taking advantage as usual. One insect that is showing up on the Guineagrass are what appear to be Oriental Beetles.


Nestled down in another plant, a pretty little cricket with a yellow stripe lurks.


Where there are insects, there are predators. Like this intimidating spider.


There was a brief flurry of activity once the Sun came out. Palm and Myrtle Warblers teased us just above the nets. Feeding with them were Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Titmice, and our local pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.

Pileated Woodpecker

Back at the banding table, Andrew prepares to remove the next bird from a bag.


Happily, it was our first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

These Kinglets are our smallest Winter visitors. Our guest, Mary, wanted some scale so she placed a nickel on the table. The other connection to nickels is that Ruby-crowned Kinglets typically weigh as much as a nickel. About 5 grams!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

On a sadder note, right before dawn, Andrew found a dead bird at the base of a tree. It is our assumption that this Sharp-shinned Hawk collided with the tree not too long ago. Perhaps it was chasing prey.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The hawk was turned over to the rangers who will try to have it mounted and used for educational purposes in the park.

Another cold front is due soon so hopefully it will bring us some new birds next week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 13th.

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