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!
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.
Female SY Western Tanager
Molt limits showing wing bars
Comparison between female Summer Tanager (left) and female Western Tanager