Sunday, October 29, 2006

Migration Over?

Well, it does look like it. The number of birds banded per day has dropped dramatically. The Ruby-crowned Kinglets are increasing, though, as represented by this male showing his bright ruby crown.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Also in good numbers are the House Wrens. Hearing them everyday.

House Wren

Our newest returning species was this nice Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The previous week, this or a similar bird flew in to search for food right by the banding table. This bird was caught in a net not far from the table.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

As I was taking pictures for the banding website, I noticed a slight ring of darker feathers across the breast of the bird. The most striking part about it was that the feathers were not black but a black/blue with an iridescence.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Next week I am off to round up some sparrows on the Kissimmee Prairie! With any luck.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Migration Winding Down

A few new birds on the move but most have moved through already. Where are all the Black-throated Blue Warblers this year? We caught one more but the past couple of years we had dozens in a day.

Birds joining us this week were the first arrival of a Wood Thrush. Such a stunning difference in color from their more numerous cousins.

Wood Thrush

Speaking of other Thrushes, the last of the Swainson's are trickling through.

Swainson's Thrush

While Bachman's Sparrows prowl the higher grasses in other parts of the park, we only get a few sparrows flying by the net area. We did manage to snag a couple of Swamp Sparrows which were moving according to schedule.

Swamp Sparrow

The only other special bird for the morning, besides our usual suspects, was a female Indigo Bunting. We actually got a few in the same net as they fed in a small flock. Note the blues on the wing edges. Males become solid Indigo.

Indigo Bunting

May have a few more interesting birds next week but most have gone on to their Wintering grounds.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Visiting Towhees

We have a lot of Eastern Towhees at the Wekiva banding site. You can hear them from just before sun up and through the morning. Heck, if I ran a straight line through the scrub I bet I would trip over several in any direction!

So it took me aback when I was nearly speechless when we pulled the first of two Towhees out of their carrying bags at the table. These were certainly Eastern Towhees but not our locals. These were travelers who had stopped by to feed and probably hobnob with their Southern cousins.

The differences are slight but to me they were downright striking today.

The colors are very defined and deeper. I was jabbering on and on about the rich color for many, many minutes.
May not mean much to some, I know. The female was first out and the chocolate brown jumped right out at me.

Eastern Towhee

Notice the bright white spots on the wings. The resident birds hardly have much white on their wings at all. I wish I had had more time to document the wing differences. In the shot of the male below you can notice the way the colors blend together along the back from white to brown. And talk about black, black!

This picture also shows the fasted way to tell differences in the locals and migrants. The migrants have that amazing red eye.

Eastern Towhee

One more difference from the local and migrants: The migrants bite like deranged Northern Cardinals! Those who have been bitten know what I mean.

Eastern Towhee

You can compare these birds to some locals at my Towhee page.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Fall Visitors

The waves of advancing Palm Warblers continues and just behind them are more birds that hang around Central Florida during the milder Winters.

Every now and then, the banding site manages to capture an Eastern Phoebe or two. I had just seen my first of the season Phoebe on the Friday before at Mead Garden but was still surprised when I took another bird out of the bag on Sunday at Wekiva.

Eastern Phoebe

Heard often giving there "Phoebe!" calls while perched in more open spaces, these little flycatchers are a joy to watch as they glean and dive along the grasses or around the branches of the oak trees.

Just the week before we had another surprise when we captured a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. We couldn't remember exactly when we had caught one last but we did remember an earlier bird. Turns out that it was almost a year before. Could we have an annual event beginning? Next year will tell.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Most of the Veery have moved through and a few Swainson's Thrushes can still be seen around the state. Gray-cheeked Thrushes are now replacing those other birds at Wekiva. This was our second in a week.

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gearing up for the Yellow-rumps. Perhaps tomorrow.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Palms are Back

A week ago as we were about to close the nets I saw a bird near the top of a pine tree on the trail's edge. Nice yellowish breast and a constant bobbing of the tail. The Palm Warblers were returning!

Today we captured and banded our first of the season.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warblers were one of the first birds that were part of my 'awakening' to the world of birds, bird watching, and eventually banding. The first was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Christmas which forced me to start going to length in identifying new birds and Palms were the second.

Someone asked me 'what are all these little birds moving so fast around the parking lot' at work so I set out to get a picture of one. After a week of stalking at work and near home I was finally able to get a shot through the branches of a cypress tree (First picture, top row).

From there it was a good amount of time scouring some books to get the positive ID. I was hooked on tracking down birds ever since.

Which led me to fun experiences, new discoveries, and an official banding permit which now allows me to get bitten REALLY hard by birds like this Cardinal. If you ever wanted to know what an angry Cardinal looks like, here ya go.

Northern Cardinal

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Black-throated Blues and Other New Arrivals


We were awaiting the return of the Black-throated Blue Warblers last week but they were just outside of our range. Following that previous day of banding, reports were coming in across the state of sightings. It took almost the whole morning but we finally got a young male pretty close to the banding table.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Not sure where exactly they place in my favorites list but it is up there. After all, it was my first picture I placed on my photography site years ago.

Just as the sun was rising last Sunday I extracted and banded our first House Wrens of the season. First banded, anyway. I have been hearing them in the scrub for a couple weeks. Beautiful birds in their own right, especially up close.

House Wren

Another of my favorite birds continues to find our nets. We have banded many White-eyed Vireos ranging from the resident adults and loads of newly hatched birds all Summer. The young birds have gray eyes but the adults white eyes are just stunning.

White-eyed Vireo

Now, if we can just talk the Golden-winged Warbler into a net soon. There have been sightings near the springs.