Sunday, May 25, 2014

Session 6 Ends

Our final Sunday of Session 6 (which began last August) was a hot, humid, and sweaty exercise of waiting and exploring. We made some discoveries but only had two birds as all the smaller local birds are nesting and not flying about so much.

Our first bird of the day was a recaptured Carolina Wren that we also recaptured two weeks ago.


Most of us were excited to check out the Swallow-tailed Kite nest to see if we could spot the babies. Overcast skies and growing pine needles made it a bit difficult but we did the best we could and could see them moving about in the nest.

Swallow-tailed Kite

One interesting observation was a pair of Mallards spotted on the bank of the river. A while later the female walked across the net lane and under Net 13 and continued into the woods. The male soon followed but but stopped not far behind the net and stopped to face the net lane.

There he sat for well over an hour as we walked past to check nets. Eventually, he female came out and they flew off toward the lake.


The Manatee Tree Snails are still around and Susan found one in the vegetation.

Manatee Tree Snail

As the sunlight began to break through the clouds we checked the Swallow-tailed Kite again to find an adult back at the scene.

Swallow-tailed Kite

When the nets were first set up before dawn Andrew thought he heard some rustling between nets 5 and 11 (close to each other) but dismissed it as probably just a rabbit and moved on. Later in the morning he walked through the area to find Charles saying he was watching bears. Seems that as Andrew came around the back of the area it caused a pair of Black Bears to head toward the river and cross into the park. Charles got a quick shot from his phone.

Black Bear

Guess we will pay more attention to the sounds in the dark! Great-crested Flycatchers were calling near the lake but stayed too high in the tree tops. The only thing that was lower to the ground were a pair of Green Herons.

Green Heron

Back near the table, Susan spotted an insect digging a hole in the pathway. Turns out to be a Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus).

Great Golden Digger Wasp

A little more research reveals that this insect eats other insects like Katydids. So we were not surprised to find Katydid Eggs on a blade of grass in the area.

Katydid Eggs

It has been awhile since we have seen a good Web Bow, a rainbow in a spider's web. Once the Sun is higher and shining through the branches you might be lucky enough to find one. This Web Bow is in the web of a Spiny orb-weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), one of our most common spiders who conveniently make large webs that we walk through here and there.

Web Bow

A close-up shows more detail.

Web Bow

Finally, we caught another bird! A male Downy Woodpecker. The last bird of Session 6. Now to add up the totals for the next report.

Downy Woodpecker

The Swallow-tailed Kite chicks were back on their own again and moving about the nest and flexing their tiny wings.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Back near the lake, the Green Herons were still on the hunt.

Green Heron

30 feet away, a Limpkin appeared in the river to dig for snails and clams.


Next to Net 18, we have been watching the growth of a Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa) which just sprouted one day. We did plant some much farther up the net lanes and they did not too too well so we have no idea where it came from. Besides the droppings of a bird or mammal, of course.


A native plant, birds like the fruit so we are hoping for this plant to survive and fruit by the Fall migration. Here is a closer look at the small flowers.


One last look at the Swallow-tailed Kite nest find the chicks staring down toward us. You can even make out the tawny coloring on one of the chicks which they keep until their molt into adult feathers of pure white in their place.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Now we let the heat take over and let the local birds raise their young in peace. And we get to sleep in on Sunday's! We will make a couple checks on the site during the Summer and we will raise nets for Session 7 in the first week of August.

Have a great Summer and thanks for reading!!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 3rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

We Have Babies!

Since we have been posting our shots of the Swallow-tailed Kites that are nesting near the banding table several folks have been trying to locate it on their own. Including the park rangers. Unfortunately, there is exactly one spot you can even see the nest with any clarity. That spot is on private areas just below the banding table.

Ranger Frank stopped by last Sunday before he heads off on vacation (have fun, Frank!) and we were able to show him the spot. Last Sunday we had 3 birds in flight chasing of Vultures and we could see Momma on the nest early in the morning. Our good friend Paul Hueber has been curious about the nest site and today the rangers drove him into the area to show him the spot.

Seems it was a productive visit. Paul got a shot of two Kite fledglings peeking out of the nest!

Swallow-tailed Kite

Now we can watch for them our last Sunday and probably on other random days as they grow up. Excellent news! Breeding confirmed.

Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 25th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Locals Settle In

Climate Change is ramping up. Last week we were sweating in the heat and humidity before dawn and this morning we were back in jackets as temperatures dropped back into the upper 50s. In late May. Go figure.

We also had another burst of rain in the past couple of days totaling and inch and a half that rose the river levels to a new high for the year.


The most interesting fact of our captures today was that all three of them (only three) were all females with brood patches showing that nesting is in full effect. Almost all migrants are gone and we only had a sighting of an American Redstart as our only migrant of the day. Our first female was a Blue Jay.

Blue Jay

We always scan for the Swallow-tailed Kite nest once the light is up and we could make out the female secure in her spot as she has been for the past few weeks.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Our next capture was actually a bird we recaptured just last week in the same area. A Carolina Wren. Might be getting young next week or by the resumption of efforts in the Summer.

Carolina Wren

While walking back from the end of the net lanes, Andrew noticed an optical phenomenon in the grass as the dew point was reached. Called Heiligenschein (pronounced HI-leg-in-shine), it is when the light seems to glow around a fixed shadow being cast upon the wet or dry ground. For more info on this effect, click here.


Next to Net 14, the Painted Leaf are spreading nicely. Unfortunately, so are the Spanish Needles which we will have to try and thin before the next Session.

Painted Leaf

Our baby Barred Owl was moving freely around the area this morning and it eventually settled in near Momma during mid-morning.

Barred Owl

A close-up of baby as it calls. Momma earlier brought in a rat for breakfast an hour before but it still seems hungry.

Barred Owl

Momma seems done with hunting for now and just wants to rest.

Barred Owl

Our final bird was a new female Northern Cardinal in the area of a known male's territory. More birds to band in coming next year.

Northern Cardinal

As we wound down for the morning, three Swallow-tailed Kites began calling and circling over the banding table chasing off several Black Vultures that came into their territory. We might have to make some trips out to see when the young are fledged as they are one of our favorite species now hanging around so close.

Swallow-tailed Kite

One more week to go in Session 6 and it will probably be just as slow since the locals are nesting and the migrants are gone but you never know. Slight chance of rain which hopefully won't arrive until after we are done with the last Sunday.

Then we can get some sleep
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 25th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Migrants Almost Gone

Getting quiet around Central Florida as the last of the migrants move through. The morning also brought in the day we have been anticipating with our first day of working up a sweat well before dawn. Only gets hotter from here.

Our first bird of the morning was a migrant Ovenbird.


Another sign of transition is the breeding of our locals such as the Carolina Wrens. This female was recaptured and showing a pronounced brood patch.

Carolina Wren

Besides the return of Augustine and Avery, Allison from the Avian Reconditioning Center joined us today to help out and check out the site. We help band their raptors before they are released back into the wild when we can.


Previously we have been capturing male Black-throated Blue Warblers as they head up North to establish territories. Today we caught a female showing that they are not too far behind to breed.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

This Carolina Wren was a male recaptured next to where the previous female was captured. It is probably her mate. Shouldn't be too long before we start seeing babies along the way.

Carolina Wren

A male American Redstart has been feeding by the lake for a couple of weeks and today Richard extracted a female in the same area.

American Redstart

Still, we are considering if this is actually a juvenile male based on the darker feathers on the face. Hmmmmm....

American Redstart

Our last discovery of the morning was a caterpillar along the net lanes as the birds stopped moving. It looks to be a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar.

Giant Leopard Moth

Only a couple more weeks of banding for Session 6 and then we take a couple months off to let the breeding birds have there peace. It would be a surprise to find any migrants during the next 2 weeks.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 18th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Abbreviated Morning

We would have to catch as many birds as we could early as we could only be here a couple of hours today. Sometimes Life gets in the way. At least we had Augustine and Avery as visitors today so it made the short timeframe worth waking up for.

Still some Winter migrants around as proven by the several Ovenbirds we caught today.


Bringing a splash of color to the day was a male Common Yellowthroat. Some stay here year-round while others are migrants.

Common Yellowthroat

The next bag was too heavy to be a warbler. Yep, a nice big Brown Thrasher. Caught it in mid-blink for the photo.

Brown Thrasher

It rained overnight, like most of our Saturday's it seems, and steam rose off the waters of the river as the Sun inched above the treetops.


Yet another migrant species was captured. A Northern Waterthrush.

Northern Waterthrush

More Ovenbirds and an additional male Common Yellowthroat rounded out the morning.

Common Yellowthroat

Before we closed up nets we had another opportunity to watch the male Swallow-tailed Kite as he stopped in the same spot as last week to preen.

Swallow-tailed Kite

He ignored the clicking cameras and eventually headed off to forage again. Such a beautiful bird.

Swallow-tailed Kite

We hope to get in a few more hours next week. Only a few more weeks in our year.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 11th.
All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.