Sunday, February 26, 2017

New and Returning Visitors. Too Much Wind.

As usually happens, when we get a good mix of birds on one weekend full of bird captures, we end up with a lot of visitors hoping to bask in the same kind of an interesting day the following weekend. However, as we say, "Birds go where they wanna go". Sometimes it is not where we would like them to be. Namely, in our nets for research. Today was one of those days. Skies were clear for flying and food was easily had in the tops of the trees.

Then there was the wind that shut us down most of the day. Nets flutter. Birds can see it. Winds blow. Insects retreat to the woods. Birds vanish from netted areas. We stare at plants and signs of mammals and reptiles, etc.

We did get a new female Northern Cardinal early on. Still wondering how Cardinals move about here. Seems like we should only be catching locals and newly hatched birds, but we do get new arrivals from time to time.

Northern Cardinal

The rest of the day was filled with our volunteers hanging out with our 9 (!) visitors hoping to see banding but the birds stayed near the lanes though never too close to any actual nets. So we all birded as best we could and waited.

Winds kicked up early. They got stronger every 30 minutes and we finally called the day a wash just after 10 AM. As we began to close up for the day, we did find a recaptured Carolina Wren in Net 21. This bird was first banded last July as a juvenile and shed its tail while being extracted.

Carolina Wren

It is disappointing to have so many folks show up to see birds and have so few to share. There is not much to do when conditions are not right, though. There was a real chance of zero birds captured this morning so we will be satisfied with 2 and having a visitor get to release one before the day is out.

There is a cold front moving down and migration is showing signs of picking up by the weekend. Nets are alway half-full with us, so we will see what next Sunday brings us. Stay tuned...
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Birds are Beginning to Turn

Our post title has a double meaning this week. Winter is winding down and you can feel it is the air and see it all around. The only trouble this Sunday was dodging a few sprinkles as the trailing edge of a front moved through overnight. Luckily, there were only a couple of brief periods of light rain and the wind did not show up until near 10 AM.

Though Northern Cardinals were the most heard calls early on, we did not capture any of them. Instead we started with a juvenile Carolina Wren we first banded last year after being born on site..

Carolina Wren

As we watched a large feeding flock of Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and newly arriving Northern Parula overhead, a female Common Yellowthroat flew into Net 19 next to us. This was another recapture that we first banded last October on her journey South. Now birds are beginning to move back North as witnessed by Robins flying over in larger numbers and by examining NEXRAD radar.

Common Yellowthroat

It was starting to look like we were only going to get recaptured birds today as we got a Wintering Hermit Thrush (now caught for the third time) and another Carolina Wren banded a couple of years earlier.

Hermit Thrush

We watched as one of the Barred Owls entered the nest tree across the river at one point. A little later, we noticed a wing sticking out of the nest. The owl was twitching at times suggesting that it was either feeding a newly hatched chick or rolling an egg for incubation.

Barred Owl

Yet another sign that Spring is rushing toward us is all of the newly blooming plants and trees. Native Black Cherry and Cherry Laurel, Earthsmoke, Wild Radish, and Spider Wort, (Tradescantia), are coloring the landscape.

Spider Wort

Richard discovered that our Bobcat has established a new bathroom spot. The scat was next to Net 2 behind the banding table.

Scat

Our next bird was a female Ruby-crowned Kinglet. This species is feeding furiously all over the property right now.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Hanging in Net 22 was our single House Wren of the day.

House Wren

A little farther down the lane at Net 18 was our first Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped Warbler) of the season. Their numbers are increasing in Central Florida. Finally. The second 'turning' referenced in the post title is the fact that the warblers are phasing into their breeding plumage like this male bird.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

While those birds were being extracted, Richard got a Swamp Sparrow, also nearing full breeding plumage colors, in Net 11.

Swamp Sparrow

Nearby, Phyllis found a recaptured Gray Catbird in Net 20.

Gray Catbird

Since we caught our first Myrtle Warbler earlier in the day and the fact that we were watching a large feeding flock at the edge of the marsh, we kept the nets open a little longer while we banded the previous birds. Christine got another Myrtle Warbler in Net 18 and walked over to the spot where Andrew was watching the flock from the woods. Many birds were feeding low and heading in the same direction of the net. A couple of minutes later we had an additional six birds in the net from one end to the other.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

The majority of the Myrtles were adult males.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

A pair of more drab females were also in the mix.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

The plumage on this older male is the closest to full breeding colors we see in Florida before they head up toward Canada to nest. Gorgeous warblers.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

A very nice mix of birds today. Our capture rates should begin to rise as we head toward March when Spring migration goes into full swing. Glad we are getting the Myrtles and it is always a joy to be hearing Northern Parulas singing up and down the river.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 26th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Typical February. Except the Heat.

Feels like the heat is already on. Projected high is in the low 80. In mid-February... The morning, however, was a bit chilly but pleasant. Except for the fact that the rangers changed the combination lock without letting us know. Time to wake up the lead ranger at 5:30 AM.

Once we were in and set up a bit late we started our morning with a Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Gray Catbirds are still active and the first one we got was one we first banded just last week.

Gray Catbird

Colleen is now more empowered at extracting birds and even took on a Northern Cardinal today. It was a new female.

Northern Cardinal

The puffy fungus we discovered last week is now spreading out and getting lighter. It even looks like something has been munching on the lower portions.

Fungus

Out near the lake, the rising sunlight set the grasses and flower aglow.

Grass

American Goldfinches out in the willows nibbling flower buds.

American Goldfinch

Back near the table we recaptured a House Wren first banded a few years ago.

House Wren

Last week we were capturing female Ruby-crowned Kinglets and today we got a nice adult male.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Overall, a very nice and typical February morning. Birds are beginning to start their turn back North and capture rates should increase as we head towards Spring.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Catbirds and Deformity

One thing to be grateful for was that the wind and the bugs were down. However, it wasn't too busy, bird-wise. Most of the day resembled this view at mid-morning.

Lake

We were catching bird fairly steadily throughout our stay. The day began with a House Wren.

House Wren

It was quickly followed by a Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

The first thing in the title of this post refers to the fact that Gray Catbirds were our most numerous species captured today. They are finally moving about and calling more from the bushes.

Gray Catbird

Hard to believe that is takes most of Winter until it starts to look like Fall in Central Florida.

Fall

Eastern Tent Caterpillars are beginning to weave their homes all over the property.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern Tent Caterpillars use their tents as protection and take trips outside of it to feed on the leaves of the trees they call home.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

We captured a Downy Woodpecker with a very deformed bill. Deformed bills, also known as Avian Keratin Disorder, is still being studied without any real answers to the cause. Birds seem to get around their handicap somehow as this is an adult male. He must be able to feed himself somehow.

Downy Woodpecker

We suddenly caught a few female Ruby-crowned Kinglets in a row. Males were seen feeding in the treetops.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Turtles were seen moving and feeding up and down the river.

Turtle

Out in the marsh, Myrtle Warblers (Yellow-rumped Warbler) were feeding on insects. Just need them to come back along the net lanes.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

This bright fungus was growing on a snag near Net 7. Wasn't there last time we were here.

Fungus

Connie reached a happy milestone today. She has been with us for a while and this Gray Catbird was her first unaided extraction from a net. Congratulations, Connie!

Gray Catbird

Hate to end on a downer. Last week, Andrew's family cat, Oscar, passed away after an illness. Andrew decided to bring him to his final resting place back in the woods.

Oscar

This way, Oscar can be visited every week we are out. R.I.P., Oscar. Such a good and loving kitty.

Oscar

Overall, it was a very nice day. We even enjoyed having it overcast. Next week might be warmer. Willows are starting to bloom which hsould bring out more pollinators. Thus, more birds should be around to consume them.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 12th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.