Bird Banding 2014

IMG_8846

Emily Perlock works with two Penn State students who are learning to tell the age of a bird by looking at wing feathers.

And so our bird banding season is underway! Licensed bird banders Emily Perlock, Scott Stoleson, and Don Watts generously give their time, talents, and expertise to show visitors how scientists collect data on birds.

Throughout the season, Terry LeBaron and I will be taking pictures to be used at our September First Friday program.  In addition to giving highlights of the banding season, there will be a quiz and maybe even prizes!

I was only able to stay for a short while on Saturday.  Still, I was able to see lots of birds.  One of the most surprising things happened during the first net check:  fifteen Yellow-rumped Warblers all in the same net!  Over the years, the banders have rarely seen “butter butts” here at Audubon.  Veteran bander Scott Stoleson says this species can be tricky to age.  Penn State students Clay and Nathan got LOTS of practice!

IMG_8808  IMG_8798
These are both Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

At this time of year – during the peak of migration, we are also apt to see a lot of birds that are just passing through on their way to breeding grounds further north.  Yellow-rumps have been known to breed here, but most don’t.  (Check out the range map at the Cornell Lab site by clicking here.)

Another migrant with similar bold yellow, white, and black is the White-Throated Sparrow. We caught several on Saturday.

IMG_8828   IMG_8815
Click here to see the White-throated Sparrow range map on the Cornell website.

The Cornell site describes the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet as a “tiny bird seemingly overflowing with energy.”  We were delighted to catch a few of these on Saturday!

IMG_8841   IMG_8840
Click here to see more information about Ruby-Crowned Kinglets.

Not all of the birds banded on Saturday were necessarily migrants. While some MAY have been passing through, these could well be sticking around to breed at Audubon:

IMG_8836 IMG_8824
Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow

IMG_8851
Eastern Phoebe

I left banding early on Saturday to attend a bridal shower. I’m told there were many other wonderful birds in the mist nets. In addition, Don Watts and friends climbed up to one of our Screech Owl boxes and banded an owl! Wish I had been there for that!

IMG_8856

Double-crested Cormorant at the farm pond on Route 62.

Spring banding demonstrations continue for three more Saturdays. After that, Emily Perlock and her students will continue MAPS banding through the summer. Check Jamestown Audubon’s website for schedule information.

Bonus!  On the way home, I saw a bird at the farm pond along Route 62 between Audubon and Jamestown.  Turned out to be a Double-crested Cormorant!

Bird Banding

We had a great, if a bit chilly, day at bird banding.  Here are some of the birds we caught, banded, and released:

IMG_5169
Gray Catbird

IMG_5174
Song Sparrow

IMG_5180
Black-capped Chickadee

IMG_5186
Common Yellowthroat

IMG_5196
Yellow Warbler

IMG_5201
White-throated Sparrow

IMG_5163
Hairy Woodpecker, Female

IMG_5139
Blue Jay

The ever observant Terry LeBaron also noticed a Song Sparrow fly up out of the grass, then went over with his camera:

IMG_5135

He found the nest!

IMG_5137

It’s always fun at bird banding.

Banding a Little Screechie

Screech owl in nest box

Photo by Jeff Tome

There has been a Eastern Screech Owl using the kestrel box in the Audubon parking lot all winter. Sometimes, if the sun shines, we see him poking his head out. Yesterday, as Jeff was leaving work, he noticed the fluffy face and sent a text message to Don Watts, a licensed bird bander, who drove right over.

Being a considerate soul, Don checked the box before coming inside to interrupt our work.  To keep the owl from leaving, he stuffed one of his hundreds of ball caps into the opening.

IMG_2764

A hat in the entrance keeps the owl from exiting.

Sarah, Katie, and I were all too happy to take a break from our duties to meet the little guy face to face!

IMG_2766

Don climbs the ladder to retrieve the owl.

Katie got a new camera recently. She was trying the video function – making Don, Sarah, and the owl into movie stars!

IMG_2785

Until Katie posts the movie somewhere, you’ll have to be content with my stills:

IMG_2775

IMG_2777

IMG_2781

IMG_2782

IMG_2774

After returning the little guy back to the box, Sarah and Katie returned to work while Don and I checked two other boxes, hoping to find the owl we banded last fall. Sadly, both of the other boxes were empty. I hope that just means the other guy is resting elsewhere.

Just another day at Audubon. Don’t I have a great job?


ANP Logo

May 31 – June 2, 2013

On another note, I’ve been working on the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage website. I still have a lot to finish up with the program descriptions and leader bios… but it’s getting there! Click on over and consider putting it on your calendar!!

Oh Bird Banding… I missed you…

IMG_9777

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Last week I got to visit briefly.  This week, I got to visit from (almost) start to finish.  (Sadly, my “alarm clock” –  a.k.a. cell phone – was left at work and I had to rely on my body to wake me up on time – which it failed to do…  Still, I got there sometime between 6 and 6:30!)

I was especially interested in practicing taking birds out of the net, since Emily will be down one technician next week.  The first two birds were newly fledged wrens hopelessly twisted in the nets.  I tried, but had to give them up to more experienced hands.  The third bird was… a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, which Eric decided was not the best bird for starting out the morning.

As the day went on, though, I did get plenty of practice on a variety of birds big and small.  Emily even let Katie, Maggie, and me take turns banding.  Maggie and Katie really started getting the hang of Pyles… I am still hopeless… but perhaps trainable? We’ll see…

IMG_9778

I banded this juvenile American Robin. Because it was still sporting a dappled belly, Emily called it a “fawn.”

The most exciting catch of the day was big! We have been seeing lots of Green Herons doing the fly-by thing and spoke about how great it would be if one went into a net. So when we saw something big in net 7, we all thought “Green Heron!” It wasn’t, but it was thrilling just the same: a bird Emily had never banded before: Pileated Woodpecker!

IMG_9819

Emily was more than a little excited about the chance to band a Pileated Woodpecker!

Everyone wanted a chance to be photographed with her.

IMG_9847 IMG_9851
Terry and Katie braved the strong bill for a photo opp!

We also were blessed by the appearance of a Blue-winged Warbler, which somehow, I didn’t manage to photograph.  Emily says this is the first at this banding station.  The Indigo Bunting was thrilling to see:

IMG_9804

One of the last birds of the day was one I kept hearing all morning and wishing would go into the net: Common Yellowthroat. And here is the handsome gentleman:

IMG_9860

I’m looking forward to next week! Join us!

Bird Banding at Audubon

I finally had a Saturday with enough time in the schedule to at least stop by the banding station at Audubon.  After hitting the snooze button a bunch of times, I arrived “late” at 6:30 or so.  Nets were already up, but they had not done the first net check.

I never ended up going on a net check because I got immediately distracted by the Eastern Bluebird pair working hard to feed the nestlings who are so close to being ready to fledge.

IMG_9521

I waited (im)patiently to try for a shot of a parent removing a fecal sac after feeding. Bluebird parents keep a tidy nest.

IMG_9544

In preparation for nature photography classes I’ll be teaching Tuesday evenings in July, I spent most of the time practicing with my 100-400mm lens. I didn’t have my tripod, but Terry LeBaron loaned me his. Thanks, Terry!

IMG_9551

Eastern Cottontail

IMG_9585

House Wren – sporting some bling!

IMG_9590

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar

IMG_9639

Skipper

IMG_9641

I think it might be a Blue Dasher teneral… Colors will change as it becomes mature.

Then it was back to the banding station and a quick lens change:

IMG_9628

Emily Thomas and a Gray Catbird

IMG_9602

Emily checks the molt limit on a Song Sparrow

That’s all for now. Bye!

IMG_9616

Yellow Warbler Female

Bird Banding at JANY (MAPS)

Acronyms. They can drive you crazy.

MAPS = Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship.
JANY = Jamestown Audubon New York

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Siblings

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Siblings - banded at Tom LeBlanc's SWAT (MAPS) Banding Station in Allegany State Park

Each MAPS station needs a unique four-letter code for the database. Tom’s station at Allegany is SWAT, which is not an acronym, but an activity you engage in while visiting: the bugs can be thick there! You can read about his banding adventures at monarchbfly.com.

There are also four-letter codes for the bird names. These are abbreviations, not acronyms.

Juvenile American Robin
This is an AMRO – American Robin

Someday, he might look like his daddy:
Handsome male American Robin

House Wren
This is a HOWR – House Wren

This particular HOWR had a beak that didn’t line up properly:
House Wren's Crooked Beak
Shall we call her a HOWR with a CRBI (crooked bill)?

Gray Catbird
GRCA = Gray Catbird

Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, I get it! Use the first two letters of the first name and the first two letters of the second name. Easy!”

Not so fast…

Yellow Warbler
This one (from last week) is a YWAR – Yellow Warbler – which I don’t get. There is no other bird called YEWA, so why YWAR?

The hyphenated names, too, get weird, though some are logical – like Tom’s Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers above. They are, of course, YBSA.

This week, we were most delighted to recapture this fellow:

Hooded Warbler
HOWA – Hooded Warbler

He is the one that got away last week before weighing and before pictures, for which we teased poor Eric mercilessly. And we made him hold the bird for pictures:

Eric holds the one who got away
Eric and HOWA

I had to leave at 7:45am to go to work. I’m sure they caught lots more COBI (cool birds) after I left. (I made that last one up myself!)

MAPS at Audubon, Etc.

I’ve been home from my awesome adventure (3 weeks on the road with my family) for about a week now.  I’m back at work and remembering what it was I do there.  I’m getting back into the swing of my Real Life, which today meant volunteering at the new MAPS station at Audubon.

MAPS stands for “Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship” and involves mist-netting birds once in every 10-day period from June through August.  I have long wanted a MAPS station at Audubon and thought we might have to wait until 2012 when Tom LeBlanc might have time to do such a thing.

To my surprise and delight, Emily Thomas, who has been banding birds at Audubon during our springtime demonstrations, called me while I was en route to Memphis, TN to tell me that she had applied and been accepted to start a MAPS station at Audubon.  Today was the third banding session under this protocol – and my first chance to attend.

Terry LeBaron and I were assigned nets 8-10 and I got lots of practice putting nets up, removing birds from nets, scribing, and taking nets down.

Tying with Gray Catbird for most individuals from a single species… American Redstart.  And oddly, all were first year males.

American Redstart First Year Male

It was as if they were having a big bachelor’s party or something.

American Redstart Bachelor Party

We are also starting to see some hatch year birds, such as this baby Song Sparrow:

Baby Song Sparrow

And this baby Grackle:

Baby Grackle

A pretty little Veery hopped into net 1 at some point in the morning.

Veery

A pair of American Goldfinches were the first birds to finally enter net 8.

American Goldfinches - male and female
(Eric forgot to put a band on her leg, though he recorded all relevant banding data… Oh, Eric…)

Gotta love a Yellow Warbler:

Yellow Warbler

And speaking of warblers, and speaking of blunders made by Eric… The last bird of the day was a beautiful male Hooded Warbler. Eric managed to get a band on this one and get a wing measurement… but we never weighed him, nor did we get pictures. Oh, Eric…

After MAPS banding, Terry and I tagged along to watch Emily and Eric band Kestrel babies.

Eric about to check a Kestrel Box

“My” box has 5 eggs!

"My" Kestrel Eggs

The boxes with babies were down just over the PA line.

Baby Kestrel

Here’s a whole family of 4 boys. The other box had 2 boys and 2 girls.

Four Boys!  (Baby Kestrels)

Terry said that holding baby kestrels made last winter’s hard work on all the kestrel boxes totally worth the trouble!

Terry LeBaron and 2 Baby Kestrels

Eric bands the Kestrel Babies:

Eric bands a Kestrel Baby

Thank you Emily, Eric, and Terry for another fabulous day of learning!

Emily Thomas with two of her Kestrel Babies