Sunday, January 12, 2014

Slow But Exciting

Once again, rains moved through the night before and left us with some soggy sneakers. Fortunately, the weather cleared overnight and we only had to deal with a bit of a chill through the morning.

Water Drop

We captured a new Gray Catbird first off but things were really pretty slow. Richard repaired a nest box that was compromised last year. Now, we have it set up with added flashing around the tree trunk in hopes that predators will be kept at bay. Susan, Richard, and Andrew pose after the handy-work. Perhaps the Wood Ducks will use it again.

Nest Box

Richard and Susan began to check the other boxes. Down below the banding table, box 3 only held a single Flying Squirrel.

Flying Squirrel

As Susan and Richard continued to move on to other boxes, Andrew headed up the lanes to check the nets. He noticed a single Mourning Dove feather floating down from above. There was no sign of the bird so he moved along and noticed a bunch of feather around Net 15. A dove had been in the net at least briefly. Then they all began to notice more and more feathers along the net lane.

Mourning Dove

Andrew continued to scan for signs of a predator with prey in the trees. Suddenly, Susan was shouting up ahead, followed by Richard calling out for assistance. Up in Net 1, Susan was holding the net closed to contain a Cooper's Hawk. And the Mourning Dove. Andrew came in to extract the hawk.

Cooper's Hawk

Richard continued down the lanes to get the other volunteers over to witness the catch. Picture time!

Cooper's Hawk

Lynn got a great close-up of the hawk before we headed back to the table to take information and band it.

Cooper's Hawk

Andrew took his own close-up before processing the data on this bird.

Cooper's Hawk

To verify the proper band size needed, we use measuring tools that confirm that the right band size is applied. All the while avoiding those formidable talons!

Cooper's Hawk

We placed a holding bag over the Cooper's Hawk upper body to keep it calm and to avoid any chance of a bite. While Becki held the hawk in place, Andrew secured the lock-on band.

Cooper's Hawk

We decided to bring the now deceased Mourning Dove along with us in hopes that if we placed in near the net lanes the hawk would find it later after release. Nothing else we could do for this bird now.

Mourning Dove

Once banded, the Cooper's Hawk was set free and flew over the river and then back into the woods, no worse for wear.

Cooper's Hawk

Whew! That was a rush for all of us. Cooper's Hawks are not rare in the area and we nearly caught one last year, but Red-shouldered Hawks are more common.

Time to check nets again and Christine noted the recently deposited Bobcat scat near Net 22. The cat is here, but not often seen, and always uses this spot as its bathroom.

Bobcat scat

Nearby, several Eastern Phoebes were haunting the Cypress trees. They were hunting but not calling much. There were three of them in this small area but not coming close enough to the nets.

Eastern Phoebe

Another bird that keeps taunting us are the American Goldfinches. They are close to Net 21. So close...

American Goldfinch

Out along the mouth of the river, Becki scans the flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds cruising from the marsh to over the pier.


Forster's Terns were soaring over Lake Lotus and a pair of male Anhinga were vying for positions in the trees and chasing one another into the sky.


The resident Osprey was hunting overhead and posed in the wind before plunging into the lake in search of food.


Back in the willows, a few Palm Warblers were moving through and they were joined by a lone Orange-crowned Warbler. Only a Western Palm Warbler from this flock was captured today.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Back by the table we recaptured a Hermit Thrush while Ranger Frank stopped by for a visit.

Hermit Thrush

In a quick rush, we caught three Ruby-crowned Kinglets. The Sun was warming the area and birds were finally coming out to feed.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

An odd discovery. While we were busy with the day, some bird seemed to have dropped its breakfast. A Gizzard Shad was resting on a sand spit in the river. Puncture wounds confirm it was held by some bird at some point but no one saw this event happen.

Gizzard Shad

That concluded our day and the air was finally getting warmer. One last view of Net 1 with a Mourning Dove feather still clinging to it reminded us of our earlier capture.

Mourning Dove

You never know what might show up in the nets. Today's Cooper's Hawk was a nice surprise and all of the other captures and observations made for a full morning. Some of us will head to the Gulf to round up sparrows for a friend's project and if the weather is not too cold we will be back at Lake Lotus next Sunday.

NOTE: Wind chills are forecast to be near freezing on the 19th. We are staying home for our comfort and the safety of the birds.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, January 26th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

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