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.
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.
If you look closely at the birds in the wild you can often see the rusty under-tail coverts. Here is a close-up.
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.
Carolina Wrens also were back in force and we recaptured an adult at mid-morning.
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...
...and our returning male which we caught last week and have recaptured several times since his first banding over a year ago.
As the daylight increased, Maria found a bunch of caterpillars on a pine near the river.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Another great capture was a male Downy Woodpecker. We have caught several this year as their numbers are increasing.
Jasmine looks on as we prepare to release our latest prize.
One warbler that Andrew has been seeing for the past few weeks finally landed in our hands. Our first 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.
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.
As the morning wound down, Richard banded another new Cardinal, this one a juvenile male.
Rounding out the photos, a Great-blue Heron rests across the river as we wind up the day.
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.