BBBO focuses on migration, but that doesn’t mean we sit at home in air conditioned comfort during the summer months. This summer we staffed MAPS stations at Kaiser-Manitou Beach and High Acres Nature Area, carried out bi-weekly banding at the main banding station, and taught both beginner and advanced students. Here are some summer highlights!
One day while banding, a chance glance to the left of our main path revealed what looked like a nest.
The nest was about 8 feet high and was pretty inaccessible (due to a water-filled ditch and lots of understory). Since we had to walk by the nest several times each morning, we were able to keep a discreet eye on it. It appeared to be abandoned, as we never saw adults on or near the nest, nor did we ever hear or see birds flush away from it. However, one day, we saw this . . .
The lighting isn’t great, but it appears to be a baby catbird! We never saw the bird after this day (that we know of), nor did we ever see any other young in the nest but we assume that it (or they) fledged successfully.
While walking on a completely different path, we had a different experience. Every time we walked by a particular spot, we heard a rustle near the ground. It happened so often on a particular day that we stopped to take a quick look. Although it was extremely well hidden, we found a beautiful nest with three white eggs.
We decided it was an Indigo Bunting nest, and we took steps to protect it. We changed our route to completely avoid the area, and we permitted ourselves only one peek at the nest one week after it was initially found.
The eggs had hatched, and there were three nestlings cuddled together in the small cup. We weren’t entirely certain when they had hatched, and so we left them alone to mature and fledge without any further disturbance.
Interestingly, a couple of weeks later, we caught three juvenile Indigo Buntings in one of our field nets – just 20 feet from the nest location. Were they our three babies? We’ll never know, but we like to think so! We banded them and sent them all safely on their way.
We band juveniles of other species as well, including the . . . um . . . Gray Warbler pictured below.
He (or she) is actually a Yellow Warbler, just molting out of its juvenile plumage and into its formative plumage. We banded an astonishing number of young Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Nashville Warblers, and one day we were swamped with young House Wrens.
Eventually, the young birds prepare to migrate. The young Baltimore Orioles flocked up near the beginning of August and filled the field nets. Between August 5 and August 9, we banded 16 of them. That actually sets a record for fall! (Even though August is sort of like summer, we record the numbers on our fall tally sheets).
Then there were the unexpected birds. The Yellow-throated Vireo . . .
And the Blackpoll Warbler – in JULY! What was he thinking???
Actually, we suspect he had a failed nest and then just gave up on the breeding season. Instead of starting over, he decided to wander around for a bit.
We hosted more than avian guests. Josee Rousseau, a bander from the west coast spent a day working on eastern birds:
And we had folks from Louisiana and California attend an advanced bander workshop. We worked hard to understand molt, and I think we all learned something!
The workshop was scheduled during “Yellow Warbler Week,” and it lived up to its name. All three banders in the photo above have one in hand!
The doldrums of August are beginning, but so is the slow steady trickle of migration. It won’t be long before we are seeing White-throated Sparrows and a pile of thrushes. We hope you all find time to visit us in the coming months!