Banding Update – Monday May 16, 2011

As we mark the half-way point of  the spring banding season, we’ve banded 300 birds from 40 species and we’ve caught many birds that we banded in the past seasons.   Remarkably we’ve had a diverse set of warblers such as Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Magnolia, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, and Black-and-white. Among other interesting birds were White-eyed vireo, Baltimore Oiole, Indigo Bunting, Ovenbird, Veery, Swainson’s Trush, and Wood thrush.  Of course, the most magnificent was the male Scarlet Tanager who happened by as Bonnie Van Alen was visiting.

Bashful woodthrush
Bashful woodthrush

Banding at Rushton would have been a blast even if we didn’t catch so many colorful warblers, orioles, and vireos. However, we also saw a box turtle, a striking red, yellow and black corn snake and we found a garter snake “eating” a wood frog! Actually the snake was only “holding hands” with the frog because only the narrowest part of the frog’s leg could fit in the snake’s flexible jaw.   Frog tried to hop away and snake tightened his grip.  We’re not sure what would have happened if we hadn’t been there, but we were there and the snake finally let go of the frog’s leg. We left them in peace and didn’t see them again.

First Veery of the season
First Veery of the season.

This was nature way of illustrating “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”   Our expertise is bird banding, but we’re interest spans all life forms at the Preserve.

We changed the path to one net to avoid flushing a Turkey Vulture sitting on two eggs. Before we found the eggs, we thought the vultures were feeding on an animal that had died in the woods.  A vulture flew up every time we checked a net suggesting a nest was nearby, but we couldn’t be sure until we found the eggs. Vultures prefer to nest in caves, outcroppings and abandoned buildings, but this pair found a suitable situation in a large cave-like tangle.  Vultures make little or no sounds, so their nests are especially difficult to confirm.

Male Indigo Bunting
Male Indigo Bunting

The quantity and diversity of our human visitors has rivaled that of our bird species.  On May 4th, visitors at our Banding Station represented 6 other countries:  Russia, Ghana, France, New Zealand, Ireland, and England.   Since then, we’ve hosted members from the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC), The Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education (PICE), Bryn Athens College Ornithology Class, The Westtown School’s first grade class, and staff members from Veritable Investment Consultants, LP.

For the record, Cody Pitz from the Radnor Boy Scout Troop has recently become our banding station’s hero as we sit atop the beautifully constructed “Rushton Banding Lodge.”  He has worked tirelessly during the past few months constructing a magnificentshelter for our banding station, which has given us a comfortable place to band birds and host visitors.  As we continue to captivate our visitors, we areextremely grateful to our dedicated group of volunteers who keep the station running stress-free.

See you in the woods.

Doris and Lisa