Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Over two weekends, one in late March and the second in early April, CVWO hosted a bander training session for the second consecutive year. This session was attended by nine individuals, plus the CVWO bander intern. The weather cooperated and bird numbers were sufficient to allow each participant to handle a number of birds using the skills they learned. First Landing State Park provided living quarters and a central meeting/lecture room.
The goal of the session is to demonstrate and teach the basic skills necessary to participate in all aspects of a bird banding project. Various tasks were undertaken by each attendee, including net set-up, take-down and furling. This year the participants included a college student, two college professors, two state environmental agency employees (one from VA; other from NC), an NCAudubon employee, a VSO board member, a CVWO board member and a "professional" volunteer. It was a wonderful group with which to work and interact.
Yesterday we banded 64 birds: today we marked 23 more. Finally, the dawn chorus included chips and songs of species other than our resident Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. (Even a Chuck-will's-widow called in the distance.) Wood Thrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Black and White Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler all magically appeared in our nets--along with a number of Gray Catbirds and White-throated Sparrows. The endless disappointing, nearly birdless, days of late March and early April were forgotten for a moment.
Mindy Mathenia of Downer's Grove, IL (west of Chicago) was just the type of individual CVWO had in mind when the banding intership at FLSP began in 2009. A recent recipient of a M.S in Biology from Northern Illinois University, Mindy had the desire yet little opportunity to gain field experience because of logistics and academic course load. Her thesis is entitled “Effects of Rainfall and Spatial Variation on Small Mammal Populations in North-Central Chile”.
Since her arrival at First Landing in mid-March, Mindy has developed the keen eye necessary to age and sex passerines and the dexterity and care necessary to extract and handle small birds. She is also a good field companion whether there are few birds or many birds at the Station.
My goodness, that looks like a new species for the Station in Mindy's left hand on the "bridge" crossing the tidal creek to White Hill Lake!! Get out your field guide (or shotgun). I think it is a game bird. Could it be a Virginia Rail?
Friday, April 2, 2010
The three species above are each a member of the Parulidae (or wood-warbler) family. And each species tends to migrate earlier than other members of this large New World family. The Orange-crowned Warbler is a hardy warbler which spends the winter across the southern tier of the United States and into Central America. It nests in the Canadian boreal forest and in the high country of the American West. And it is infrequently captured at First Landing. This individual was captured on March 24th and is only the second in six seasons. See: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/orange-crowned_warbler/id
The Louisiana Waterthrush is also an early migrant, but flew a great distance to visit First Landing. See: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Louisiana_Waterthrush/lifehistory Salt marshes and tidal creeks are not Louisiana Waterthrush breeding habitat, but the two birds pictured above seem to enjoy the Park. They were each banded on March 31; and each recaptured on April 2d. They had gained a little weight for the next leg of their migration. Note that the two waterthrushes are slightly different in the throat. Still white; and with a stout, long bill and white undertail coverts Louisiania's each.
The Northern Parula arrived today, April 2d. Parulas, of course, breed in the Spanish Moss in the Park each spring/summer---with some banded birds returning on multiple springs to nest within the area in which we band. This first arrival was an unbanded, after-second-year male. Perhaps this bird spent the winter in The Bahamas. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/northern_parula/id
These three arrivals signal that the migration is underway and gathering momentum. It will not be long before Gnatcatchers, Catbirds, Flycatchers and the later-arriving warblers visit First Landing once again. Come see them some morning.