Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fort Morgan Bird Banding

Glenda sent us these wonderful pictures and an account of her trip with Bonnie to Fort Morgan, Alabama this past weekend.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Black-throated Green Warbler

Northern Flicker

Glenda writes....

This past week-end, Bonnie Nielsen and I had a wonderful trip out to Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores, Al, to observe banding of migrating birds by The Hummerbird Study Group. This was my third such trip and Bonnie's first...but won't be her last!

As usual, Fred Bassett, Bob and Martha Sargent and the rest of the HBSG banding crew welcomed and bedazzled us with their vast knowledge and gentle handling of these beautiful birds. I can't speak highly enough about this wonderful organization and their commitment to the study and preservation of hummingbirds and other migrating birds. And they are all non-paid volunteers! Andy previously listed their website, but here it is again.


Below is a list of birds that Bonnie and I saw banded in our day and half visit and some of their pictures.

Glenda Simmons
1) Magnolia Warbler-many, both sexes
2) Wood Thrush-many
3) House Wren-several
4) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher-several
5) Carolina Chickadee
6) Pine Warbler-male and female
7) Gray Catbird-many
8) Common Yellowthroat, several, both sexes
9) Indigo Bunting, several females
10) Red-eyed vireo
11) Bay-breasted Warbler
12) Chuck-Will's-Widow
13) Eastern Towhee, female
14) American Redstart, juvenile male
15) Black-throated Green Warbler, several, both sexes
16) Black-and-white Warbler, male and female
17) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
18) Yellow-rumped Warbler
19) White-eyed Vireo
20) Red-breasted Nuthatch
21) Oven Bird
22) Eastern Phoebe
23) Northern Cardinal, female
24) Brown-headed Nuthatch, several
25) Tennessee Warbler, female
26) Blue Grosbeak, female
27) Swainson's Thrush
28) Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, several
29) Northern Flicker, female

(Bonnie saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo & Yellow-breasted Chat)
We also saw a variety of shorebirds and songbirds in the trees and Broad-winged Hawks soaring overhead. The only disappointment, for me, was not seeing a hummingbird; however several had been banded before we arrived. Before we left, three more birders from Tallahassee arrived, Fred Dietrich, Pam Flynn and Tracee Strohman, so hopefully they will be adding more birds to this list.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

The latest cold front brought us a nice splash of color to our feeders yesterday, in the shape of 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! We have had them before at our feeders but we still get excited when they arrive during their migration to and from the tropics.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in the north eastern quadrant of the United States and into Central and Eastern Canada. They mostly nest in deciduous woods, favoring edges or openings that have a combination of shrubs and trees. They spend the winter in the tropics.

We typically see them in Tallahassee during April and October when they are migrating through our area. They are often seen visiting backyard feeding stations, especially ones that have hopper feeders containing Safflower, which is one of their favorite seed types. Backyards that have fruiting trees and/or shrubs are also likely to attract the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I watched the three grosbeaks yesterday foraging in one of our Dogwood Trees, stuffing their bellies with berries! Unfortunately our resident family of Northern Mockingbirds took exception to their dining habits, and chased them away! But to my delight they returned and started to feed from my Sky Cafe, which contains Safflower.

This morning I noticed that they were still around, and one of them, a male, started to eat Fruit Cake no-melt suet dough! That makes 16 species that have eaten this flavor of suet in my yard. One of the other birds, a young male, preferred sunflower chips and the female munched on Safflower.

So keep an eye out for a cardinal sized bird with a big chunky bill visiting your feeders this month, it may be a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Winter Hummingbirds, banding and the Freds!

Fred Bassett is an expert in hummingbirds and he travels all over the country to band them. He is one of many dedicated banders belonging to the Hummingbird Study Group and together they have contributed a lot of scientific data regarding the migration and habits of our beloved hummers.

Many of you will probably have met the Freds, Bassett and Dietrich on their winter visits to Tallahassee. They have captured, banded and released hundreds of hummingbirds that have migrated to Tallahassee for the winter. Fred has banded hummingbirds in Mary & Susan's yard as well as mine.

Susan is holding a Black-chinned Hummingbird and Mary is holding a Rufous.

this is a female Rufous Hummingbird that the Freds caught in my yard. Unfortunately we didn't get to hold her as my wife and I were getting married the day he came to catch her!

The Rufous Hummingbird is typically the most common wintering hummingbird in Tallahassee each year. Most of the birds reported are immatures but every once in a while Fred will catch an adult male...truly one of the world's most beautiful birds!

I took this picture of a male Rufous in Arizona

Each winter several different species are captured by Fred. Last winter he caught and banded 5 species in Tallahassee; Rufous, Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, Calliope and Buff-bellied. Most of our wintering birds arrive in November but some come earlier and some arrive later.

To mark the impending arrival of our wintering hummingbirds Fred Bassett will be entertaining us with a hummingbird talk on Thursday, October 25 at 7pm. His talk is immensely popular, some of us have actually attended it several times!

Fred also posts a hummingbird news update letting us know what hummers he has been catching and any other Hummingbird Study Group news. With his kind permission we will be publishing his posts on our blog from now on.

Here is Fred's latest post...he writes...

Fellow Hummer Lovers...

In my first update, I suggested you might have a Rufous mixed in with your Ruby-throated Hummers. They really have been there. I had reports and pictures of adult male Rufous Hummers in Crawfordville, Pensacola, and Walnut Hill, Florida. Unfortunately all were "one day" wonders and gone before I could go band them. But I've had better luck with female Rufous. On Friday, 28 September in Niceville, FL I caught a fith year return female Rufous at MaryAnn Friedman's home and then went to Enterprise, AL where I caught my first ever sixth year return Rufous at the home of Ike and Beth Behar. Ike's comment was that he would have never believed what would happen when I banded that immature Rufous hummer in his yard so many years ago. Last winter both of those hummers beat me like a drum and required multiple trips to catch. This time both went in my trap pretty quickly. It is still better to be lucky than good.

Friday afternoon I got lucky again and banded a pure albino immature female Ruby-throated Hummer on Lake Martin north of Montgomery, AL. You've missed a real treat if you haven't seen a white hummer. I'll try to post a link to pictures in my next update.

We open at Fort Morgan next Saturday, 6 October and will be there until 19 October. Come visit if you can.

Send more Hummers,


As Fred says the Hummingbird Study Group will be banding migrant birds at their Fort Morgan Banding Station between October 6-19. More information can be found on their website linked below.

Don't miss out on Fred's talk...October 25, 7pm at the Wild Birds Unlimited store.

If you have a wintering hummingbird in your yard this winter contact Fred so he can come visit you and band it. Fred can be contacted as follows...

by telephone: 334-244-0227

we would also love to include a picture of you holding your wintering hummingbird on our blog. So let us know if you would like us to do that.


Glenda Simmons sent us a bunch of hummingbird pictures from her experiences with the Freds banding exploits. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

All day walk to Lake Seminole

I had the pleasure of leading an all day walk to the Lake Seminole area this past Saturday. The birding was great and the weather was glorious. We began our birding adventure at Three Rivers State Park which is located between the town of Sneads and Lake Seminole. We ambled along the dry creek trail for a couple of miles enjoying several migrant songbirds. We had good looks at a Wood Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Cooper's Hawk and best of all a Least Flycatcher.

After our picnic lunch we went for another walk to the lakeshore where we saw a Belted Kingfisher as well as Great Egrets, Pied-billed Grebes and a magnificent Bald Eagle.
A small trail near the carpark yielded more migrants, best of all was a gorgeous male American Redstart.

We then drove a few miles to Sneads Park, which overlooks Lake Seminole. Amazingly we counted 65 Pied-billed Grebes on the lake as well as a Common Tern. The best bird though was a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. He whizzed by the lakeshore and headed south over woodruff dam, no doubt following the Apalachicola river to the coast.

The dam was our next stop. Bank Swallow and Green Heron were observed. At a nearby park we saw a few more migrants including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Black-and-white Warbler.

We finished the day with over 60+ species. It was a lot of fun!