As we arrived at Hammock Park in the pre-dawn darkness, a full moon was shining and a vocal Chuck-wills-widow greeted us. It made for a beautiful start to our last day of spring banding. We quickly got started putting up the nets. With a shortage of volunteers we pressed the first visitors to the banding station into service (Thanks Seth & Rita). Once the nets were all up it was no surprise that our first “customers” were Gray Catbirds.
Although our last banding session of the season did not yield a high number of birds, it did bring us some colorful migrants (both bold and subtle). The female Hooded Warblers brought us some yellow along with 2 very handsome male Common Yellowthroats. The 8 Gray Catbirds brought us their gray plumage with maroon under tail coverts. The gorgeous male Indigo Bunting stole the show with his incredibly vivid blue feathers! The subtle color palette was completed by the Veery with its light cinnamon colored back and lightly dappled breast. All in all we had nice diversity and a total of 15 birds to close out the spring banding season.
We did find the later instars of the caterpillar we saw last week. It is of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and their host plant is the Sweet Bay tree. The first three instars of the caterpillar look like bird droppings then the later instars start turning green and gain the cool fake eye spots that make it look like the head of a snake. Also, if you poke at it the caterpillar sticks out a structure that looks like a snake’s tongue. Very convincing!
Bird Banding Total: 15 Birds
Gray Catbird – 8
Hooded Warbler – 3
Common Yellowthroat – 2
Indigo Bunting – 1
Veery – 1