We have had a slow October and our captures at mid-month are 1256 birds of 45 species for the whole season. Daily totals for the first half of October are here: DailyTotals_Oct2013_1
Three species of Catharus thrushes are regular migrants through south Florida: Veery, Swainson’s thrush and Gray-cheeked thrush. They are readily separated from each other in the field when you can get a good look, although they often are seen flying away deeper into the woods. Their large eyes are an adaptation to living in shady habitats, and give them an appealing ‘soulful’ look.
The bird on the left is a Gray-cheeked while the right bird is a Swainson’s thrush. The Gray-cheeked is a little bit larger with distinct black breast spots and no eye ring. The bold buff eye ring on the Swainson’s is very distinctive.
The brown on the back of the Gray-cheeked (left) is cooler and slightly grayer than the brown of the Swainson’s (right), although the different lighting in the photos exaggerates the effect. Note the eye ring of the Swainson’s and the long wings of both species. All of these thrushes are very strong fliers and a majority of them pass over south Florida without stopping if the weather is clear. When they do land they can often be found eating Virginia creeper fruit, a favorite.
Here is Swainson’s thrush (left) next to Veery. The Veery is even more rufous in color, with much lighter breast spotting. The three species migrate at different times in the fall, although they do overlap. Veery is first, starting to arrive in early September. Swainson’s thrushes peak at the very end of September, and we don’t usually see Gray-cheeks until October.
Two portraits of Veery. The left bird is a juvenile, still showing pale centers to a lot of its back feathers and a yellow gape. This bird is probably a late summer fledge. The right bird shows the overall reddish coloring and lack of an eye ring and is also a first-year bird.
Lucas Porcelli looks at a Chuck-will’s widow. These birds often sit on the ground after release and take a nap. They will spread their wings and look threatening if you get too close, and may also open their large white mouth and pretend they are a cottonmouth snake.
David La Puma was in town for the Bird Festival at Fairchild last weekend, so he stopped by the banding station. David is an old friend who remembers the early days of CFBS.
2002; 10 nets and a tarp over the banding table to keep the sun and rain off. Florian Veau from France and Marcos Gomes from Brazil are helping out on this day. Now we have a tent, a real wood floor, 22 nets, and a growing pool of fantastic volunteers!