Spring Count

I had a great time birding on Saturday morning for the Spring count.  My list for the day, from just before sunrise to about 2 PM.

60 species

Eastern Bluebird

Wild Turkey  4
Turkey Vulture  7
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2
Chuck-will’s-widow  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Red-headed Woodpecker  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  4
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  6
Eastern Wood-Pewee  16
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
White-eyed Vireo  5
Red-eyed Vireo  30
Blue Jay  5

Nashville Warbler

American Crow  19
Cliff Swallow  6
Carolina Chickadee  12
Tufted Titmouse  8
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  11
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  13
Eastern Bluebird  3
Swainson’s Thrush  2
Wood Thrush  16
American Robin  7
Gray Catbird  1
Brown Thrasher  4
European Starling  10
Ovenbird  24
Blue-winged Warbler  4
Black-and-white Warbler  5
Nashville Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  6
Hooded Warbler  24
American Redstart  5


Northern Parula  2
Magnolia Warbler  1
Blackburnian Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  2
Chestnut-sided Warbler  5
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-throated Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  6
Wilson’s Warbler  1
Yellow-breasted Chat  10
Eastern Towhee  9
Chipping Sparrow  7
Song Sparrow  8
Scarlet Tanager  5
Northern Cardinal  19
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Indigo Bunting  18
Red-winged Blackbird  5
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Baltimore Oriole  4
American Goldfinch  2

What I Learned Today

That you don’t watch a documentary on the Kentucky Bigfoot the night before you go banding alone before sunrise in a foggy misty field.  That squirrels cutting walnuts from trees are potentially dangerous monsters.  That howling coyotes and vocalizing barred owls are creepy when it’s dark and foggy.  That you have to have a sense of humor and real dedication to be doing this…or be a little bit nuts.

The day warmed quickly and more birds started moving after the fog lifted.  A new species for me was this lovely yellow-throated vireo.

Also banded a nice hermit thrush, easily separated from other thrushes by the noticeably reddish tail.

The colors are beginning to show and I’m enjoying the changes taking place in the field where I’m banding.  I set up the feeders at home and I’m getting the first regulars – Carolina chickadees, white and red breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and red-bellied woodpeckers.  Waiting for the goldfinches.  They are in the fields, but haven’t hit the feeders yet.

Bad Hair Day

A young male northern cardinal in molt, changing from the brown of adolescence to the brilliant red of maturity.

Giant Swallowtail

photo credit: US F&W Service

This has been a phenomenal summer for butterflies.  In late August, there were hundreds along the road through the forest to the main road – mostly mourning cloaks, monarchs, fritillaries, and swallowtails.  One species I saw several times – including having one inside my studio at the window – was the giant swallowtail.

There is no mistaking this one when you see it – it looks about twice the size of the tiger swallowtail and had a heavy, labored-looking flight. The ones we saw around here seem to have wider brownish bands on them.  Simply beautiful.

There’s a rock cliff near our home that locals say was a salt quarry during the Civil War.  This place seemed to be a mecca for all sorts of butterflies.  They were obviously drinking up something on the ground and especially after a rain when there were puddles – but very often they would congregate in the dry gravel as well.  I have no idea what they were looking for – or finding.  Did I take the camera down there and get photos?  Of course not – at least not in August when the butterflies were numerous.  I did go yesterday, and there are still groups of mourning cloaks congregating there:

The field across from my banding nets is tall with wildflowers and grasses now, except for about a 6 foot wide path mowed by one of the neighbors – probably to allow the deer to wander through and be more visible to the hunters…ah well.

Anyway, I did manage to find this red admiral, looking a bit tired and tattered, but still very colorful.

I think I’m developing a new interest in butterflies.  I’m even considering tagging monarchs next year -something we did at the first RRBO back in the late 70s and early 80s.

In the meantime – back to the birdies.

Feathered Friday


Rain, Wind, and Pretty Birds

It’s been a rough week weatherwise for banding, but I managed a couple of mornings between rain showers and windy conditions.  We haven’t seen a lot of warbles, but this morning brought two new ones – this gorgeous chestnut sided warbler, and a Wilson’s warbler.


Ok, sorry about that title.  Today was the first really good morning weather-wise for banding, and it turned out to be pretty good for birds, too.  That’s always nice.

My new site seems to be favored by yellow-breasted chats – caught five this morning!

These are awesome birds.  I also discovered that, since I’m banding out of my Jeep instead of the comfortable banding lab at RRBO, and since everything around me is heavy shrubs and very, very, green – there’s no suitable backdrop for photos!
After many failures, I settled for using the Jeep door as a backdrop for this bird, which makes the photo look a little weird..

A couple of chats later, I got the idea to hang a towel from the window, at least giving me a lighter background.  Not pretty, but better.  So, what I need now is a piece of muslin or some white posterboard or something I can hang from the window (that isn’t full of wrinkles and terrycloth) that will give me a neutral background.

Photographing the birds only takes a moment, as I have the camera set on a tripod and positioned in advance.  I’ll be ready tomorrow!

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