Exciting New Florida Avian Research Initiative

For the last 8 years, I have been conducting research on migratory birds in west central Florida. I have just created a new organization called “Florida Avian Conservation”. News to follow soon.

If you would like to be kept up to date on its development, please let me know by e-mail at: FLAvianConserveNews@gmail.com

I appreciate your interest in our important, future bird conservation work!

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You Never Know What You Might Catch

Although it did not happen at either Dunedin Hammock or Caladesi Island, I thought those of you following this blog might find this of interest.  After birding for over 40 years and banding for about 15 years, this was the first time in a long time when I was a bit stumped.  I was banding at the school I work at in Lutz this spring when this very thing happened.  I was walking up to our canopy net with a group of students when we saw 2 fairly decent sized birds in the net about 4 feet apart.  Both the birds had fairly large bills (for songbirds) and were making a fair bit of noise.  We gently lowered the net down so that I could reach the birds to extract them.  The first bird I removed from the net was a female Summer Tanager.  The other bird was a bit of a puzzle.  During the extraction, I was examining the bird and noticed the distinct wing bars.  Also, it was the same size and shape as the summer tanager with a similar bill.  My initial thought was, “I have no idea what this bird is!”  This provided a great teaching opportunity for my students.

When we got back to the banding station we looked very closely at all the field marks, took a lot of photographs and studied the options in the bird field guides.  In the end, we decided that it was a female Western Tanager.  This species shows up periodically during the winter in Florida.  I had never seen one in Florida and the ones I have seen out west were all breeding males.  Just to be sure, I Face-timed my friend and fellow bander, Jason Guerard, with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory up in NE Ohio.  Thanks to smartphones, I was able to show Jason and two other Master banders in his office the bird.  They agreed that it was a female Western Tanager and we settled on an age of SY (second year).  Needless to say, this was probably one of the most exciting birds that I have ever captured while mist netting.  It goes to show how critical this type of research is to increasing our understanding of migratory birds.