Spring Banding Picking Up

Today we doubled our total from last week (6 birds) which still isn’t that great.  We did start the Easter Sunday morning out well with 2 very nice warblers:  a Swainson’s Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush.  Since we caught them at the same time, we were able to compare them side-by-side which is a rare treat.  The head shape and the back coloration is very different on these birds.  The Swainson’s has a significantly larger bill which was pretty cool.  Also, I had never fully appreciated how dark brown the waterthrush is compared to the light, warm brown of the Swainson’s.  The subtleties of the eye stripe of the Swainson’s make it a very beautiful bird.  I feel very fortunate to be able to examine this bird so closely in the hand since it is such a tough bird to get good looks at in the field.  It is such a skulker and hangs out in the deep underbrush you rarely get to see it in good lighting.  Surprising, we caught it in our net that is in one of the few patches of open field habitat.

The other rare treat during the morning was seeing a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites flying low over the forest.  This is the forest time I have ever seen this species in Hammock Park. They are such graceful flyers and one of my absolute favorite bird species.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our numbers go way up next week for our 3rd banding session.

Image 3

Swainson’s Warbler and Northern Waterthrush


Northern Waterthrush (head shot)


Swainson’s Warbler      (head shot)


Super Slow Start to Migration


It was a beautiful day to be in Hammock Park at the beginning of migration!  With our “cracker-jack” crew of highly skilled volunteers we got all the nets up by sunrise (~ 7:34 am) and were ready to catch birds.  There was only one little problem – we forgot to tell the birds to show up!

After all that effort, we had a record low day – 3 birds.  We had a recaptured female Northern Cardinal and two Gray Catbirds.  Very disappointing but that is sometimes how things work out.  We are still very optimistic that it will be a productive spring banding season.  We did have over 25 visitors to the banding station including a number of Canadian visitors.  The Female Cardinal that we recaptured was originally banded 10/13/2013 so she is at least 2 1/2 years old!

One couple from New Foundland shared the location of a Northern Parula warbler nest they had seen the day before.  It is the first one I have ever seen and, just like in the book, it is in a strand of Spanish Moss at eye level along a major trail along the east side of the park.  It will be fun to track their progress.

We hope to have many more birds on Easter Sunday to share with any and all visitors to the banding station!



All Set Up and Ready for Action!


Can you spot the Northern Parula nest?