Sunday, April 28, 2013

Slow But Steady

It was only suppose to be a 10% chance of rain but we had to leave a little early today as the sprinkles got pretty hard just after 9 AM. We close all nets if there is rain for the safety of the birds. Still, we had a pretty good day that seemed quiet but we were catching birds at a leisurely, but steady, pace. There are plenty of Gray Catbirds sticking around for now.

Gray Catbird

We were treated with the high-pitched whistles of Cedar Waxwings as they fed at the tops of the Florida Black Cherries all morning. This is usually the last tree we see them at before they all head North.

Cedar Waxwing

Common Yellowthroats are starting to move around again. This female was captured out near the lake where they are heard most often.

Common Yellowthroat

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was captured and released at the nets. We do not have the special permit to band hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

In the middle of the net lanes we captured a Tufted Titmouse. Another flew into the net as this one was removed but escaped before reaching it.

Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse flew up to a nearby tree after release and couldn't make sense of her new jewelry.

Tufted Titmouse

An adult Carolina Wren was caught next to where the Titmice were. Most of the local adult birds captured today had brood patches so babies are just emerging or not too far from heading into the woods.

Carolina Wren

Red-shouldered Hawks were seen several times carrying nest material and cruising the area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

We have finally gotten some good rains and the vegetation shows it. Even the fungus are reawakening along the trails.


A male Common Yellowthroat was captured, also down by the lake.

Common Yellowthroat

Butterflies are making a bigger appearance. Zebra Longwings were visiting the Spanish Needles.

Zebra Longwings

A Northern Parula was foraging around one of the tangerine trees and headed directly into a net across the lane.

Northern Parula

Finally, another baby Carolina Wren from the same spot as the one we banded two weeks ago and joins the numbered and was released back to the family site.

Carolina Wren

A nice mix even on a day cut short by rain. One month remains in our banding session before we take a two month break. Still a chance for some migrants next week.

NOTE: No banding on the 5th. Rained out.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 12th.
All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day, 2013

Hello, All.

Andrew here. Going to break character for a bit to say a few things.

If I never say it enough, I am extremely grateful to every volunteer that comes our way. Past and present. I put out the word that we would gather at 6:15 AM to prepare for Earth Day and I was pleasantly surprised to find five folks waiting in the rain for me. We had to stand out there for a bit before we could enter the park and everyone gave their all. The rain ended and we set nets quickly as a group. As the day progressed, we cared for the nets and birds and provided great info to the public. As rains returned later, we disassembled everything quickly and efficiently, easily protecting the birds and our gear.

Thanks, gang! Job very well done. Special thanks to Richard for remembering to get us in a group shot. We always forget.

The Banding Crew
The Banding Crew From left to right: Phyllis, Becki, Andrew, Richard, Christine, Bob, Susan, Lynn. Not pictured is Charles who had to leave early.

Now, the full story...

We arrived in the rain and waited for Frank to let us in to load out gear. We got everything under cover and decided to distribute poles. The rain stopped so we set the rebar, poles, and nets. We actually were able to stay open until almost 2 PM before the rain returned. We quickly captured a banded Gray Catbird. Interesting part is that we first banded that bird 2 years ago after catching it in the same net site and...on Earth Day. The photo below is of another Catbird caught later.

Gray Catbird

Next up was a Carolina Wren. This was also a recapture that we banded a couple months ago across the river. The rest of the Wren family was feeding all over but never made it into a net.

Carolina Wren

Warblers were calling n the trees, including several Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

It seemed to take forever but we finally caught one.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Two minutes later we caught a second. Such a beautiful bird.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

We thought we had one of the other Carolina Wrens at one point but when it was approached it was clear we had something even more fun. A female Indigo Bunting!

Indigo Bunting

There were several calling from both sides of the river but it is fairly late to be hearing this many.

Indigo Bunting

Things grew a bit quiet so there was a little time to do a little looking around the lake. Lynn found a female Northern Cardinal that appeared to be gathering nesting materials. Better still, she has a band!

Northern Cardinal

Out around the fishing pier a couple young American Alligators were hanging out in the shade. One was deeper in the vegetation.

American Alligator

The other was posed up in a nice position.

American Alligator

It seemed strange that there were no Red-Eyed Vireos around today. Just after that thought, one began singing over the boardwalk. The power of suggestion.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Over at the butterfly garden, Lynn discovered a pair of Monarchs on the ground.

Monarch Butterfly

One of the other vendors was a butterfly expert and she confirmed they were simply mating. Maybe not simply...

Monarch Butterfly

Ranger Cindy helped to find a soon to emerge Monarch.

Monarch Butterfly

Nearby in the Coral Honeysuckle was a cool Katydid almost perfectly blended against the leaves.


Lynn also found a fierce looking insect.


The final species of the day was a female Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker

With every bird brought to the table a crowd quickly gathered to hear about the birds, how and why we band, and to get close-up photos.

Downy Woodpecker

Each time, a visitor is chosen to release the bird which instantly creates huge smiles and awe and, hopefully, another mind sparked to consider the fragile existence of birds and nature and to possibly lead some to a lifetime enjoyment of birds.


The rain returned and we headed out. A nice variety but the crowds were lower this year, perhaps due to the changing weather conditions. Everyone we interacted with seemed to have a great time and we look forward to next Earth Day and we return to 'our' side of the river next week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 28th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Catbirds On the Move North

We had an overcast day with rain promised by the late afternoon so we enjoyed every bird we could get. Radar was active but most of the birds we captured were Gray Catbirds. Twelve, in fact. All you need to see is one photo. They all look pretty much about the same.

Gray Catbird

There were a few other species captured along the way, including a male Northern Parula we first banded last August.

Northern Parula

Two House Wrens were captured. One was a new bird and the other was a bird singing its full song in the grasses. It then flew into the nets and we confirmed it was banded back in November and was showing a lot of fat reserves. Must be ready to head out.

House Wren

Becki and Lynn took some time to record the local butterflies during the day. They included Horace Duskywing...

Horace Duskywing

...White Peacock...

White Peacock

...and a Common Checkered Skipper.

Common Checkered Skipper

We were closing up nets when we found a bird fairly high in the net. Turns out it was our first baby Carolina Wren of the season.

Carolina Wren

It is easy to tell the youngsters by the yellow-ish gape showing at the base of the bill. There were more babies calling behind the nets so we released the banded bird in the same area and it quickly made a reunion with the whole family.

Carolina Wren

Just before we reached the gate on our way out we found a local hanging out in the pine straw.

Black Racer

A beautiful Black Racer was just watching and waited patiently as pictures were taken and we moved on.

Black Racer

Last bird of the day was a Great-crested Flycatcher out in the tram lot.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Next week is Earth Day at Lake Lotus so we will be doing banding demos inside the park as we have for the past 4 years. The event is free and is open from 10 AM to 3 PM. It is always a fun walk along the boardwalk! Park in the tram lot and enjoy the day.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 21st.
Earth Day is open to the public from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Migrants and Baby Owl

We headed out in hopes of catching some migrants. Radar shows them heading our way but the early ones report in the previous few days, due to rain, seem to have moved on now that the weather in pretty again. We were not surprised to have a local adult Carolina Wren very early in the morning.

Carolina Wren

A male Common Yellowthroat brightened up the still-dark dawn.

Common Yellowthroat

So does this male Northern Cardinal. Look familiar? We started last week's post with him. He seems to like nets. Or just can't figure out how to avoid them yet.

Northern Cardinal

A lingering Winter visitor, a House Wren, showed up soon enough.

House Wren

We have not captured any Red-winged Blackbirds yet this Spring but it shouldn't be long. The males are all on territory and singing.

Red-winged Blackbird

Females are busily moving about and picking out nesting sites.

Red-winged Blackbird

Just beyond that bird, an American Alligator slips by in the early sunlight.

American Alligator

We started hearing Barred Owls as usual before dawn but today there was a new sound. The hiss of a baby out of the nest and up in the trees.

Barred Owl

One of the adult Barred Owls stayed close by. They were both directly over Net 7 and we decided it best to close this net early just to avoid any offerings to the owls.

Barred Owl

The day began to warm and Honey Bees and Bumble Bees began visiting the wildflowers.

Bumble Bee

Checking the nest boxes, we found the usual collection of Flying Squirrels in a couple of boxes. No nesting birds.

Flying Squirrel

Another box held a single Cuban Treefrog.

Cuban Treefrog

We did catch our first Louisiana Waterthrush of the Spring which was nice. In fact, we caught this same bird 3 times today as it made its way down the river toward the lake.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Western Palm Warblers are in their Spring finery and will be heading out shortly.

Western Palm Warbler

Black-and-White Warblers call Florida home most of the year but it is still a treat to get one in the nets.

Black-and-White Warbler

Finally, Net 11 captured a male Downy Woodpecker. Last year, this species nested in a dead tree just across the river and they will certainly try again soon.

Downy Woodpecker

We will be watching the weather for next Sunday as a front should be pressing South and causing our rain chances to rise. Hopefully, we can get some time in as the following week will have us across the river on Earth Day.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 14th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.