Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quiet...Until the Bird of the Year

NEXRAD radars were looking promising at 4 AM with birds on the move. Of course, a lot of those birds might have been shorebirds and waterfowl instead of the Passerines we were after. Turned out that the day would be pretty slow, capture-wise, with mainly local birds and Catbirds. So we did some other exploring as we checked nets and were finally rewarded with what Andrew deemed the Bird-of-the-Year. More on that later.

Gray Catbirds were one of the most common birds captured today and were all adults getting ready to head back North.

Gray Catbird

Making up most of the other captures were Northern Cardinals. This male was first banded 2 years ago. Cardinals are calling up and down the river as breeding kicks into gear.

Northern Cardinal

Recent rains have accelerated the growth of many species of fungus and these shelf-types stood out as the morning grew brighter.


Our net checks were interrupted briefly as we had a return sighting of a Swallow-tailed Kite swooping in to land on the same branch as she did two weeks ago by the banding table.

Swallow-tailed Kite

She did not stay long this morning and soon headed out to forage off to the East.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Our patch of Spider Wort, (Tradescantia), has sprung back into bloom between Nets 19 and 6 and are always pleasing to witness.

Spider Wort

Spider Wort is not just pretty, it attracts a lot of insects such as beetles and bees.

Spider Wort

We also have noticed that the new growths of Poison Ivy along the net lanes is doing quite well, too.

Poison Ivy

Speaking of bees, it seems that a colony of Honey Bees has taken up residence in Nest Box 6 by Net 12. Guess we will not have any birds nesting in that box but wonder if the bears will find the stash at some point.

Honey Bees

Various species of Warblers are moving in and out now as Spring migration is in full swing. A few Yellow-rumps are still here and the remaining Western Palm Warblers are content with sipping nectar from the neighbor's Bottle Brush tree just over the Lake Lotus property line. Pine Warblers are calling and Prairie Warblers are being seen now.

Western Palm Warbler

While Andrew was setting Net 21 at dawn he heard an interesting sound from just across the river. Close to an Alligator croak but definitely with a more 'birdy' throat. It moved back and forth but was not seen then. Speculation was that it was some sort of Heron. Later in the day we were able to confirm it was a Green Heron calling. In fact, two birds were found and must be in breeding mode as they were chasing one another through the Willows.

Green Heron

Our last Northern Cardinal of the day was a female which we first banded four years ago. She seems to be doing well in her established territory.

Northern Cardinal

The winds were increasing and birds calls were subsiding and we were deciding if it was time to close up for the day. Andrew stopped to verify a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and then began to hear a chip call from the area by Net 12. Further investigation led to the sight of a patch of yellow at the bottom of the net. Seconds later, it was clear that this was our Bird-of-the-Year. A male Hooded Warbler was captured. Our first of this species at Lake Lotus.

Hooded Warbler

Net 2 was specifically placed in hopes of catching Hooded and Kentucky Warblers if they ever moved through their preferred habitat. Net 12 is also set next to the woods so it made sense to get one here where they forage near the ground. Only took us 5 1/2 years to catch one! During Spring migration, Hooded Warblers tend to stick to the West Coast of Florida so this was a great addition of our captures.

Hooded Warbler

We have no Earth Day event this year so we are fully concentrated on the next couple of weeks of migration here at the site. Maybe we can get some more interesting species along the way.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

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