Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cloudy but Love is in the Air

Forecasters were a bit off. Again. It was suppose to be a perfect kind off day but, instead, we had mostly cloudy skies and even light rain that forced us to close a little early. We made the most of the morning and even had a nice surprise along the way. More on that shortly.

Danny was given most of the duties today so he could add to his experience with bird extraction and banding. Being a little slow, bird-wise, made it a better time to learn in a more detailed manner.

Banding Table

His first bird to practice extracting was a recaptured House Wren that we first banded last November.

House Wren

A male Northern Cardinal tried to avoid the nets for a half hour but we did catch it soon enough. This was also a recaptured bird first caught in the adjoining net a few months ago so it seems he has staked out a territory. We noted its brilliant reds.

Northern Cardinal

Gray Catbirds are on the move again. They have mostly been confined across the river from Fall through Winter but it seems that Spring has made them more restless and they were our most captured species today.

Gray Catbird

Bird of the Day was not even a bird we banded. It was a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites. This time of year they circle the property grabbing mid-air snacks and then typically drift off to parts unknown. We were totally surprised when a female landed atop a tree next to the banding table.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Several of us snapped photos as the clouds rolled back in and she surveyed the gathering below her. Meanwhile, a male Swallow-tailed Kite flew by with nest material in tow and took it to a nearby Pine, apparently starting a nest site.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Before long, the male flew over and began to copulate with the female!

Swallow-tailed Kite

They even seemed to share a little nuzzle during the process.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Mission accomplished, the male Swallow-tailed Kite flew off in search of more branches for the nest. A few minutes later, the female took flight and the birds were seen throughout the rest of the morning circling out near where we park. Next time out we will determine exactly which tree is being used for the nest.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Another male Northern Cardinal was captured next. This time it was a new bird. How many males are in this area? Seems we catch a new one every other week.

Northern Cardinal

While we closed up, Susan got another Gray Catbird out of Net 6.

Gray Catbird

Wish we could have stayed a bit longer but it was not to be. We will not be banding next week but the following week should be more alive with migrating birds and hopefully more Kite sightings.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.


  1. Hey Andrew,

    That is awesome! Just finding a Swallow-tailed Kite perched is difficult ... but you got the whole nine yards! Thanks for the photos.

    Janet L.

  2. My pleasure, Janet! Especially witnessing it.

    Next Sunday we track down the tree which we hope they are building the nest in.