Sunday, February 24, 2013

Myrtles Save the Day

Birds are back on territory and singing away like mad. Problem is, they are calling more than flying. We had a fairly slow morning until the very end. More on that as we proceed, but first, we thought we would share a discovery from the day before.

Andrew had to return the poles that were used at the Orlando Wetlands Festival (that long report in below) and once things were in place, he did a bit of birding. Down near the end of the net lanes he nearly walked into an impressive beast. A three foot long Snapping Turtle! It was sitting next to our small bridge and soon turned and headed back into the marsh.

Common Snapping Turtle

We caught a new Gray Catbird to start the day. Becki got the pleasure of collecting data on our new capture.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbirds should be here a month or so more before heading back out of Florida to breed.

Gray Catbird

Greg got a recaptured House Wren. Greg has accepted a position doing Grasshopper Sparrow monitoring farther south so this is his last weekly morning with us. We were hoping to get some new birds for him to band before leaving and we did by the end of the morning.

Greg Thompson

A close up look at the wintering House Wren.

House Wren

Not a lot of Tent Caterpillars in the area so far but there is a pretty impressive colony next to Net 14.

Tent Caterpillars

Took a while but we finally got a recaptured Northern Cardinal. This bird has been recaptured many times after first being banded a couple of years ago.

Northern Cardinal

Besides the birds, we get at least one dragonfly in the nets. Our friend Paul Hueber recognized it as a female Florida Cruiser Dragonfly. Fairly rare visitor, he adds.

Florida Cruiser Dragonfly

Warblers were moving at last but they were staying up in the tree tops. We watched for a while as one warbler after another flew over Net 21. As their numbers increased, however, a few flew lower and we captured two Myrtle Warblers. As we brought them back to the table, a huge feeding flock came in over the river. Though most birds stayed high, a few dropped low and also hit the nets. Here, Becki shows Bob the best way to remove a bird.

Myrtle Warbler

We had a nice mix of Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers. A juvenile male, a couple of adult females and a male molting into adult plumage. They will look very different in a few short weeks before heading North.

Myrtle Warbler

We will be watching an approaching cold front which may cancel our next Sunday if the temperatures drop too low or if the winds get too high. Check back for any updates by Saturday evening.

Good luck to Greg and the Grasshopper Sparrows!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 3rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Orlando Wetlands Festival

Word of the day quickly became: Wind. Gusting winds increased all day making it a little more difficult to capture birds but we soldiered on. We have gathered a ton of photos to cover the entire day so sit back and enjoy.


One of the best discoveries of the morning was seting up the poles at dawn and then beginning to hear American Goldfinches which began to come down to the feeders next to the education center.

American Goldfinch

Earlier years have revealed Goldfinch flyovers but we have never had a full day of their cheery calls and whistles. Unfortunately, none of the Goldfinches landed in the nets to become our first-ever banded ones.

American Goldfinch

The crew got everything set-up before the crowds began to arrive.


A couple of Common Ground Doves flew into and out of the nets but we soon had a Northern Cardinal in hand.

Northern Cardinal

She was a beautiful bird and it appears she is getting ready for breeding as her brood patch is easy to see.

Northern Cardinal

Maria took a brief walk around the close ponds and made some nice discoveries like this Purple Gallinule.

Purple Gallinule

Always lurking nearby are many very large American Alligators that call the wetlands home.

American Alligator

We were lucky enough to catch other birds when visitors were around. Not too long after getting the Cardinal, we captured a couple of Myrtle Warblers, commonly called Yelow-rumped Warblers.

Myrtle Warbler

The crowd watches as the next bird gets weighed before receiving a band.

Weighing the Bird

An added interruption to our day was the hay rides which rolled through every 15 minutes

Hay Ride

Down near our nets, a group of visitors gathers to listen to the rangers as they scoop out critters from the waters.


At the other end of the nets, a Pearl Crescent flutters around in its typical spot.

Pearl Crescent

Down near the fresh water we find a lot of blooming Bay Lobeilia.

Bay Lobeilia

Richard spent a lot of time talking to interested visitors about banding, native plants, and the evils of St. Augustine lawns.


The wind got very strong and we were considering closing for the day when a Gray Catbird flew into the nets. One more species added. Maria found a dragonfly down in one net.


We called it a day and decided to get in some bird watching before the end of the day. Right around the corner, Blue-winged Teal were resting in the vegetation.

Blue-winged Teal

A Glossy Ibis almost posed for a nice photos but jumped up to fly away at the last second.

Glossy Ibis

Another American Alligator glides through the water along the berm road bearing a toothy grin before submerging beneath the waves.

American Alligator

American Coots gathered and fed in large rafts in several locations throughout the wetlands.

American Coot

Out in the open, the wind was really howling. It was still pretty though. Tree Swallows skimmed the water but were still too fast for any good shots.

Palm Trees

Out of seemingly nowhere, a Savannah Sparrow emerged from the reeds and posed for a moment before racing back into hidding.

Savannah Sparrow

A couple of American Coot split off from the bigger flocks and chomped on the vegetation floating on the surface of the water.


The main target of this bird walk, however, was the Vermillion Flycatcher that has returned again this year. There are thoughts that there actually might be 3 out here this year. Problem is, most of the time they stay way out in the cypress trees far from shore. You still can't miss that bright spot of red sitting on the branches..

Vermillion Flycatcher

Once our attention was torn from the flycatcher, on the path back was a bunch of blue flowers. Gorgeous.

Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass

A little research led to the discovery of their name. Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass. Other Blue-eyed Grass is smaller and paler but this blue is amazing.

Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass

Time to head back. Bracing against the wind made it difficult to be too quick on the draw as an Osprey flies by with a snack.


The gator that smiled at us earlier made its way to the other side of the road and settled in for a rest.

American Alligator

We were missing our pool full of baby alligator that we had next to the banding area last. On the way back to the parking lot we found one in another section of the marsh. A good way to end just like we did last year.

American Alligator

The following morning was too cold and windy to band so we slept in for once. Weather willing, we will be back out next Sunday.

Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 24th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

That Was Close

We have never had a day without catching a bird. We have had a couple days of one bird but never zero. Today was feeling like it might be that day. So close that we were already prepared with a picture for the blog if we got skunked...maybe with an audio clip of blowing wind.

Turkey Vulture

Fortunately, the dry spell was broken before 9 AM once we recaptured an adult male Common Yellowthroat. They have been more conspicuous over the past few weeks but have stayed out on the marshy areas of the lakeside.

Common Yellowthroat

Also out on the marsh we find growing flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds. The females seem to be scouting suitable nesting areas.

Red-winged Blackbird

Richard joined us today and checked on the nest boxes. As usual, we found only Flying Squirrels inhabiting the boxes. They are cute, though.

Flying Squirrel

One of the morning conversations was how we have not captured any Carolina Wrens in a while. So it was nice that we caught an adult today. They must be moving about just before the breeding begins for the year.

Carolina Wren

So, two birds today. Better than naught! We gathered poles and gear for our next event (see below) and noticed a new visitor hiding in the cart. A small moth.


A pretty little thing. The phots almost catch the subtle pink shades in the scales and we are trying to track down the species this week.


The Orlando Wetlands Festival is Saturday, February 16th. Our team will be there attempting to band birds and we will give information about bird banding to the visitors. Event runs from 9 AM to 3 PM. More information here.

NOTE: Due to a forecast of cold and windy conditions, we will NOT be banding on Sunday the 17th.

Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 24th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

The Great Backyard Bird Count for 2013 is February 15-18th.
Click the icon to learn more!

Great Backyard Bird Count

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Clear Skies and a Nice Variety

Finally. A morning without any fog! Nice, warm temperatures greeted us, instead. We had a nice variety of species, too. The first of the morning was a recaptured Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Hiding in the bottom panel of Net 21, a House Wren is captured. It has been a while since we caught the last one. They are here but staying in the underbrush.

House Wren

Many of the worts are beginning to bloom and light up the early morning.


Two warblers soon followed. The first was a female Western Palm Warbler.

Western Palm Warbler

In the same net was a female Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler. Seems the warbler are getting more active as the willows are about to burst forth in bloom which will draw more insects. Then, more birds.

Myrtle Warbler

Small purple flowers reach above the grasses near the river.


Out near the lake, the dasheen is coated with the scant moisture that is left over before sunrise crept over the houses.


An Osprey makes a close fly-by after being chased by a Bald Eagle. That whole story will be told shortly, possibly on another site.


One of our Ruby-crowned Kinglets was a bird we first banded nearly 3 years ago. The other was a new female.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

After getting her band, she flew up into a nearby tree to preen for a while. Made for a pretty easy photo.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Our last bird was a Northern Cardinal. One of our most common species here but this bird was a bit different.

Northern Cardinal

At some point in her past, this bird lost the bottom portion of her right leg. This looks like it was healed over some time ago and she is otherwise healthy. Birds can survive with only one leg and several have been witnessed over the years in other wooded area an along shorelines.

Northern Cardinal

All the trees, including the Cherry Laurel, are in full bloom. On the first week of February. Should have a nice crop of berries before the birds head back North.

Cherry Laurel

Time to have another Sparrow round-up on Saturday and then right back here next Sunday.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 10th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

The Great Backyard Bird Count for 2013 is February 15-18th.
Click the icon to learn more!

Great Backyard Bird Count