Opening Day at SWAT

SWAT is the name of Tom LeBlanc‘s MAPS bird banding station in Allegany State Park.  Today was the first day of banding…  And I was glad I awoke early to attend.  We saw some very beautiful birds!

The first bird out of the net was a life bird for me…
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler – male

Isn’t he pretty? We later got a peak at the female as well, but she managed not to get entangled in the nets… She is similarly colored, but not as vibrant.

According to the Cornell website, these pretty warblers breed in mature coniferous or mixed forests. After raising young, they may join mixed flocks of chickadees and kinglests to forage.

Another great bird for me was the Black-billed Cuckoo… I’ve heard them, and seen pictures and taxidermy mounts… and I think we got a through-the-binoculars view of one at Tom’s other banding site one day last summer… But to see him up close like this was spectacular… What a gorgeous bird… These pictures do not do him justice:

Black-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo Closeup
It was just last summer that I learned that Cuckoos eat a good deal of the spiny caterpillars… so they are my heros…

We had a good number and a good variety of birds… Here are a few others:

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

It was a great day with great friends. Thank you, Tom, for knowing how to show a girl a good time.

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