Brotherly Love Greenlet!

Brotherly Love Greenlet, AKA Philadelphia Vireo (Photo by Nasim Mahomar)

The edge of Hurricane Ian tread lightly on the CFBS and we were back open on September 29, with only a few branches to pick up across some of the net lanes. The birds around appeared to have ridden out the storm onsite, as we caught a good percentage of recaptures and the species composition was similar to what we had before Ian. Winds ahead of the storm were unfavorable for departure as they were out of the southeast. The backside of Ian was dry and featured winds out of the north and northwest; excellent conditions for bird migration. Overnight radar on the nights of Sept 29 and 30 showed a mass of birds moving down the peninsula that were probably blocked by the heavy rain from Ian across north-central Florida, and could finally resume their flight under clear skies once the storm passed. This bulge of migrants reached us by October 1, and we banded 105 birds of 16 species!

American Redstart; our top capture at this point with 310 banded as of Oct 3 (photo by Miriam Avello)

The physical condition of the birds was variable; most had excellent fat loads and clearly had ridden out the storm hunkered down somewhere safe on land, while others were very emaciated and may have been caught out at sea. A Connecticut Warbler was especially lean; these normally migrate from the mid-Atlantic offshore down to South America without stopping in Florida, but she may have had to bail out because of the storm. She used up all her fat reserves and was burning up her own flight muscles to stay alive and flying, but she made it to land with food and good cover. We recaptured her the next day and she had already gained one gram of weight. High-quality stopover habitat such as found at BBCFSP will make the difference between life and death for a bird such as this.

New species for the season that have come in on the cooler dryer air include these guys:

Connecticut Warbler; an uncommon but regular spring migrant but very rare in fall (photo by Miriam Avello)
Another view of the Philadelphia Vireo, banded Oct 3 (photo by Bob Warren)
Gray Catbird, a sure sign of winter coming in South Florida. (photo by Bob Warren)
Western Palm Warbler, another sign of winter in South Florida (photo by Miriam Avello)
Bobolink; a common migrant but only the second one we have banded in 20 years. They fly overhead and prefer to land in large open fields, but a falcon may have scared this young bird down into the woods (photo by Nasim Mahomar)

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECOVERY
Common Ground-dove2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo2
Black-billed Cuckoo1
Chuck-will’s Widow13
Red-bellied Woodpecker3
Acadian Flycatcher1
Least Flycatcher1
Traill’s Flycatcher12
Great Crested Flycatcher3
White-eyed Vireo6
Philadelphia Vireo1
Yellow-throated Vireo1
Red-eyed Vireo33
Veery13
Gray-cheeked Thrush3
Swainson’s Thrush9
Gray Catbird1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher31
Blue-winged Warbler1
Northern Parula41
Chestnut-sided Warbler1
Magnolia Warbler6
Cape May Warbler3
Black-throated Blue Warbler105
Prairie Warbler40
Western Palm Warbler9
Black & white Warbler103
American Redstart310
Prothonotary Warbler4
Worm-eating Warbler1151
Swainson’s Warbler45
Ovenbird         2407
Northern Waterthrush86
Louisiana Waterthrush2
Connecticut Warbler1
Common Yellowthroat60
Hooded Warbler2
Canada Warbler1
Yellow-breasted Chat1
Seaside Sparrow1
Summer Tanager          2
Northern Cardinal41
Painted Bunting1
Bobolink1
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL133044256919.2520.67
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1000th bird!

We reached a milestone on Sunday, September 25 while the Phoebes women’s birding group was visiting the station- the 1,000th bird banded this season! We typically don’t get to that number until early October, but the last two weeks have been steady. No big days since September 16, but 30 to 70 birds every day has gotten us there. Number 1,000 was this feisty Worm-eating Warbler. The diversity is going up right now, as is expected in late September, and we added 8 new species to the season total.

The Phoebes birding group with Bird # 1,000 for Fall 2022, a Worm-eating Warbler. (photo by Ana Lima)

Some of the new birds arriving include greater numbers of Common Yellowthroats and Black-throated Blue Warblers, and they are becoming abundant at Cape Florida. Western Palm Warblers, an indicator of winter in South Florida, also came in last week. Some more unusual birds were in the mix, too, including this Blue-winged Warbler and a Seaside Sparrow, captured in one of our high canopy nets! We suspect it was migrating overnight and we captured it as it dropped down right after sunrise, but before it had a chance to find its preferred saltwater marsh habitat.

Blue-winged warbler (photo by Jeanette Rawls)
Seaside Sparrow (photo by Brian Cammarano)

We are currently closed for two or three days as Category 4 Hurricane Ian passes by to the northwest of us. Surprisingly, the weather here isn’t too rough considering we are on what is typically the ‘dirty’ side of a storm heading north-northeast, but dry air is getting wrapped around the center from the west and it is dampening the wind and rain. He is riding the edge of a front with nice temperatures and lower humidity on the other side. We are interested to see what Ian’s passage does to the bird numbers in the area afterwards. Rain to the north of us could block migrants coming down from the Atlantic seaboard for a few days, but maybe birds from the Gulf side will swing around into us on the backside of Ian, moving under clear skies and northwest winds. There are likely also a lot of birds hunkered down locally, awaiting the return of good travel weather. Hurricane Ian is proving to be devastating to Southwest Florida, in particular the Ft. Myers area, so our thoughts are with the folks there dealing with the brunt of the storm.

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECOVERY
Common Ground-dove2
Black-billed Cuckoo1
Chuck-will’s Widow12
Red-bellied Woodpecker3
Acadian Flycatcher1
Least Flycatcher1
Traill’s Flycatcher11
Great Crested Flycatcher3
White-eyed Vireo3
Yellow-throated Vireo1
Red-eyed Vireo30
Veery12
Gray-cheeked Thrush2
Swainson’s Thrush3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher28
Blue-winged Warbler1
Northern Parula29
Chestnut-sided Warbler1
Magnolia Warbler1
Cape May Warbler3
Black-throated Blue Warbler76
Prairie Warbler36
Western Palm Warbler3
Black & white Warbler81
American Redstart201
Prothonotary Warbler4
Worm-eating Warbler1051
Swainson’s Warbler39
Ovenbird2157
Northern Waterthrush81
Louisiana Waterthrush2
Common Yellowthroat39
Hooded Warbler2
Canada Warbler1
Yellow-breasted Chat1
Seaside Sparrow1
Summer Tanager          2
Northern Cardinal41
Painted Bunting1
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL105139256125.7518.37
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A VEERY good week!

Since the last blog post on Sept 8, we have banded 475 additional birds in what is turning out to be one of the busiest mid-September periods in years. A front moved into Central Florida last week, where it then stalled out and dissipated over a few days. Migrating birds riding this front down from points north then encountered persistent rainy weather in South Florida, causing them to land. The peak day of this wave of migrants was September 16, when we banded 124 birds of 18 species!

Worm-eating Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

Worm-eating Warblers peak in their migration through our area in the middle of September and we have been banding plenty this week. The top day was 23 banded on September 16. Today we caught a special Worm-eating Warbler who was already banded by somebody else. We were able to look up the data on the Bird Banding Lab website and learn that she was banded on July 13, 2022 and was probably on or near her breeding grounds because she was sexed as a female. Worm-eating Warblers can only be sexed as female by the presence of a brood patch, the area of bare skin that forms on the belly during breeding season and helps transfer heat to the eggs during incubation. She was banded at the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We call these birds recoveries rather than returns, as returns are birds banded by us that survive to return in another season. Over the years we have also recovered birds from Allegheny Front Migration Observatory, Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, Powdermill Avian Research Center and the Kiawah Island Banding Station.

Veery (photo by Miriam Avello)

Some other September migrants that we are seeing good numbers of include Veery, the first of three species of Catharus thrush that we see in the fall on a regular basis. Veery are rufous in color with no eye ring, and have reduced spotting on the breast compared to the other two species of common thrushes. Swainson’s Thrushes have started to appear here and there, and they will peak towards late September and early October. These can be easily identified by their distinct buffy eye rings. The third Catharus, Gray-cheeked Thrush, will move through in the middle of October. These have no eye ring, but are a cooler darker grey than the Veery.

Swainson’s Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

We set a daily record for Swainsons’ Warblers when we banded 9 on Sept. 16! Our previous daily record was 6, which is still a lot for this hard-to-find warbler. South Florida during both spring and fall migration is one of the more reliable places to find this skulker. The most Swainson’s Warblers we have ever banded in one season was 41 in 2016, but we were close with 40 in 2020.

Here are some more of the new faces around this week:

Female Hooded Warbler (photo by Michelle Davis)
Female Canada Warbler (photo by Nasim Mahomar)
Magnolia Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)
Red-eyed Vireo (Photo by Miriam Avello)

Special thanks go out to Mario Porcelli for the bad pun in the title

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECOVERY
Common Ground-dove2
Black-billed Cuckoo1
Chuck-will’s Widow5
Red-bellied Woodpecker3
Acadian Flycatcher1
Traill’s Flycatcher7
Great Crested Flycatcher3
Red-eyed Vireo24
Veery12
Swainson’s Thrush2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher28
Northern Parula17
Chestnut-sided Warbler1
Magnolia Warbler1
Cape May Warbler1
Black-throated Blue Warbler41
Prairie Warbler33
Black & white Warbler67
American Redstart150
Prothonotary Warbler4
Worm-eating Warbler991
Swainson’s Warbler28
Ovenbird1623
Northern Waterthrush59
Louisiana Waterthrush2
Common Yellowthroat7
Hooded Warbler2
Canada Warbler1
Summer Tanager1
Northern Cardinal2
Painted Bunting1
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL77231254959.516.51
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Migration momentum is building

Probably our last Louisiana Waterthrush of the season? (Photo by Michelle Davis)

Migration has finally gained a little momentum as we are already a week into September. South Florida is currently underneath a high pressure system giving us very hot, still mornings. Rain is forecast for the next few days and the wind may change to the S-SW in response to low pressure in the Gulf, so we will see what the weather change will bring.

We are close to the 300 bird mark for the season, which is typical for this time. The majority of our bandings happen between Sept 15 and Oct 20, and already we have added several new species for the season. The most unusual was a Black-billed Cuckoo banded on Aug 30. This bird was very skinny from a hard flight so we released it immediately and there are no photos. Hopefully it will be able to restore its fat and muscle on Key Biscayne somewhere and continue its migration.

The smallest bird we band is the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. This is a very common wintering bird in South Florida and their ‘cheee’ call is a familiar sound. (photo by Miriam Avello)

Chuck-will’s Widows, Traill’s Flycatchers and a Hooded Warbler are among the new species that are showing up now. Ovenbirds are filling the woods, and three have returned from last year to spend the winter at Cape Florida. The busiest days for banding so far were on Sept 2 and 3, with 28 and 32 birds respectively. A few early Black-throated Blue warblers were in the mix, along with a relatively late Louisiana Waterthrush on Sept 5.

Two views of Ovenbirds, our 20th anniversary mascot and a species that does well overwintering in BBCFSP’s restored forest. (top photo: Miriam Avello. Bottom photo: Steffanie Munguía)

I like to look upstream in the fall and follow waves of birds down the East Coast while waiting patiently for them to get to us in South Florida. Last week, Sept 1 was a nice night for birds passing over New York City while the Kiawah Island Banding Station in South Carolina saw their first good push yesterday, Sept 7. Sometimes I imagine it’s the same American Redstart or Red-eyed Vireo passing all these locations and it will end up in one of our nets! Our recovery data over the years of birds banded by other banders supports this, as we have recaptured birds initially banded in Pennsylvania, upstate New York, West Virginia and South Carolina.

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Common Ground-dove2
Black-billed Cuckoo1
Chuck-will’s Widow2
Red-bellied Woodpecker2
Traill’s Flycatcher2
Great Crested Flycatcher1
Red-eyed Vireo6
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher15
Northern Parula5
Black-throated Blue Warbler8 
Prairie Warbler17
Black & white Warbler40
American Redstart80
Prothonotary Warbler3
Worm-eating Warbler25
Swainson’s Warbler10
Ovenbird463
Northern Waterthrush22
Louisiana Waterthrush2
Common Yellowthroat2
Hooded Warbler1
Northern Cardinal2
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL297222533349.42
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A calm peaceful day today

We have settled into a more typical August pattern of easterly winds with a small but steady stream of birds passing through Cape Florida. Daily totals have ranged from nothing to 20 birds, and in the past week we added two new species for the season. Our first Common Yellowthroat, an adult female, found the nets today, and we have banded two Swainson’s Warblers this week. These unique birds have a strong blackbird-like beak that they use to toss leaf litter aside as they walk around on the ground looking for insects. South Florida (during both spring and fall migration) is one of the most reliable places to see this secretive warbler that is sought after by birders.

Swainson’s Warbler. (Photo by Michelle Davis)

Today is a significant date in South Florida, as 30 years ago Hurricane Andrew ravaged the southern part of Dade County and damaged or destroyed thousands of houses. He also stripped the vegetation of the few trees left standing which caused hardship for local birds. However, Andrew provided an opportunity to restore native habitats and plant species to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

Dead Australian pines following Hurricane Andrew’s wind and storm surge damage (photo from BBCFSP archives)

Workers completely removed the Australian pines to replace with native plants (photo from BBCFSP archives)

The Australian pine monoculture covering the future banding area (and most of the rest of the park) was replaced with a hardwood hammock made up of more than a dozen tree species, and other adjacent areas were restored to freshwater wetland vegetation. These plants were hand-planted by dedicated volunteers in the early to mid 1990’s, and the birds have been benefitting from the diversity of food sources ever since.

Pre-Andrew Australian pine monoculture. The needles suppress growth of understory plants (photo from BBCFSP archives)

Restored forest in 2018 with native trees (photo by Michelle Davis)

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Red-bellied Woodpecker1
Red-eyed Vireo1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher3
Northern Parula2
Prairie Warbler6
Black & white Warbler22
American Redstart29
Prothonotary Warbler2
Worm-eating Warbler3
Swainson’s Warbler2
Ovenbird9
Northern Waterthrush5
Louisiana Waterthrush1
Common Yellowthroat1
Northern Cardinal2
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL89152514526.34
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20th Anniversary of Cape Florida Banding Station!

We opened for our 20th year of Fall banding on Sunday Aug 14, and are off to a great start! Persistent high pressure over the Atlantic seaboard gave way to a trough and a front that came down to the Florida border before dissipating. This switched our local winds from strong easterlies to calm at the surface and out of the west at higher levels. As a consequence, birds ready to migrate now were encouraged to depart and many of them ended up on our side of the Florida peninsula.

Adult female Black-and-white Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

We often start the season with 4 and 5 bird days, but so far this year we have banded between 12 to 17 birds a day, except for today. The peak of migration is still more than a month away, but some species start moving earlier. Black-and-white Warblers have been seen around Miami since July, and we have banded 14 of them so far. Nearly all of these individuals have been adults, as they often leave before the young of the year since they know where they are going and how to get there. Prairie Warblers have also been abundant, and American Redstarts picked up the pace in August. Louisiana Waterthrush, on the other hand, have one of the earliest migrations of any North American warbler species and they are almost completely past our area when we open in mid-August and are replaced by the more common and later migrating Northern Waterthrush. However, we usually can count on a couple of stragglers in late August.

Hatching-year female Prothonotary Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

Another favorite early migrant is the Prothonotary Warbler. We banded this hatching-year female on Aug 14, and had two others onsite today that were foraging in fruiting Ficus trees, but dodged the nets. Today was extremely hot with light west winds, and hopefully the 4 birds banded is a temporary interruption in the steady flow of migrants. Perhaps overnight rain to the north blocked the birds coming down Florida last night.

Hatching-year Red-bellied Woodpecker (Photo by Miriam Avello)

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to only a few resident breeding species of songbirds, as in general birds clear out of South Florida for the summer. We did manage to band this hatching-year Red-bellied Woodpecker, who is still too young to identify the sex.  

Fall 2022 Totals (since August 14)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Red-bellied Woodpecker1
Red-eyed Vireo1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher2
Northern Parula1
Prairie Warbler4
Black & white Warbler14
American Redstart12
Prothonotary Warbler1
Worm-eating Warbler1
Ovenbird6
Northern Waterthrush1
Louisiana Waterthrush1
Northern Cardinal2
   # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL4713245189.27
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Spring 2022 Wrap-up

We officially had three more days of banding following the 100-bird day on May 12, but there was enough interest in keeping the station open a couple extra days so we banded until May 17. A steady stream of American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroats, Black-throated Blue Warblers and Northern Waterthrush made up most of the birds moving through this late. Three more Connecticut Warblers pushed the spring total up to 22 banded! The previous high count was 15 in Spring 2007, another year that had a strong May due to the weather. This year’s Connecticut Warbler record will probably stand for quite some time.

Female Connecticut Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

The same weather patterns that brought us all these Connecticuts also brought in 6 Bicknell’s Thrush, another site record. Conversely, we banded no Gray-cheeked or Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s intergrades this spring. American Redstarts led the totals with 267 banded, followed by 181 Common Yellowthroats, 146 Ovenbirds and 128 Northern Waterthrush. Overall 1,234 new birds were banded and 27 returning birds were recaptured of 35 species. Most returning birds were over-wintering from Fall 2021, but one Ovenbird has been returning to spend the winter at Cape Florida since 2014! Three new species were banded for spring; Wood Thrush, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Brown Thrasher.

Michelle gets ready to release an American Redstart. Safe flight, little one, and see you in Central Park! (photo by Miriam Avello)

The migrants have mostly moved through South Florida by now and are starting to fill the Northeastern woods with song and the fresh green of the new leaves await with caterpillars and other food. We’ll see you and your children in the fall!

Ovenbird (photo by Miriam Avello)

Spring 2022 Totals (March 15-May 17)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Sharp-shinned Hawk1
Common Ground-dove4
Chuck-will’s Widow4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1
Red-bellied Woodpecker1
Blue-headed Vireo1
Black-whiskered Vireo1
Veery1
Bicknell’s Thrush6
Wood Thrush1
Gray Catbird724
Brown Thrasher1
Northern Parula23
Magnolia Warbler3
Cape May Warbler18
Black-throated Blue Warbler126
Prairie Warbler72
Western Palm Warbler9
Blackpoll Warbler14
Black & white Warbler543
American Redstart2661
Worm-eating Warbler40
Swainson’s Warbler14
Ovenbird1433
Northern Waterthrush128
Louisiana Waterthrush3
Kentucky Warbler2
Connecticut Warbler22
Common Yellowthroat1801
Hooded Warbler2
Northern Cardinal814
Rose-breasted Grosbeak1
Indigo Bunting4
Painted Bunting41
Common Grackle4
TOTAL123427
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL126135258950.514.37
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A lot of good days!

The Spring 2022 season will long be remembered for the fantastic May we are having. The large-scale weather pattern reversed itself from the late April shutdown, and the persistent high pressure over the Atlantic seaboard was replaced with a low pressure off the coast of the mid-Atlantic. Ahead of this feature a decaying ‘cold’ front passed through our area around May 8. On the ground we had westerly winds turning north and then north-northeast, and the gates of late season migration opened up! We banded almost as many birds in the last 5 days as we did in the first 6 weeks of the season.

This current wave of birds started out on May 8 with a lot of Common Yellowthroats and American Redstarts, and a majority were female birds. The second-year male redstarts with their patchy black faces were also abundant, and a straggling Prairie warbler was in the mix. Redstarts and Yellowthroats eased off a bit on May 9, but more Ovenbirds were around, and a Magnolia Warbler was a treat. None of these birds stayed long as recaptures from other days were few and far between.

Male Common Yellowthroat (Photo by Miriam Avello)

The overnight radar loops continued to show influxes of birds coming into the area from the east; either the Bahamas or eastern Cuba. These flocks were settling onto Cape Florida and immediately getting down to the business of feeding. Strangler figs packed with fruit and newly leafed out gumbo limbos crawling with caterpillars were ready for them.

The wind had shifted around to the north from being west to northwest the past two days, but the birds kept coming in on May 10 and May 11. One last Gray Catbird was banded on the 10th, probably the last one we will see until October, when they return to spend the winter. Redstarts and Yellowthroats leveled off, and Blackpolls finally started arriving. They stuck to the tops of the trees, with the glaring exception of a flock of 5 females that were caught together in the same net. Northern Waterthrush picked up the pace, and their numbers increased daily. They came in a distinct wave around mid-morning on the 10th, but dozens were arriving at sunrise on the 11th.  

But mostly the Connecticut Warblers arrived. They have a narrow window when they migrate through our area, peaking in the second week of May. We usually band at least one, but birders can easily miss seeing them in spring. But every once in a while the weather cooperates to bring us a bunch. We banded 3 on the 10th, 4 on the 11th, and 8 on the 12th! The total of 18 Connecticuts banded since May 5 eclipses the previous record of 15 from 2007. And we still have 3 more days!

Male Connecticut Warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)

Thrushes are here, too, and a Veery was banded along with 5 Bicknell’s Thrush yesterday and today. We have not banded any Gray-cheeked Thrush or intergrades yet. Bicknell’s winter exclusively in the Greater Antilles while the Gray-cheeks go down to South America. They can be very difficult to separate from the (usually) more common Gray-cheeked Thrush, but it can be done in the field by song and in the hand by smaller measurements and a warm rufous tone to the upperparts.

A pair of Bicknell’s Thrush in the hand at the same time! Note the warmer tones than Gray-cheeked Thrush, and the lack of the buffy eye-ring that Swainson’s Thrush have. (Photo by Rangel Diaz)

May 12 2022

SPECIESNEWRECAP
Common Ground-dove1
Bicknell’s Thrush3
Northern Parula2
Cape May Warbler1
Black-throated Blue Warbler114
Blackpoll Warbler4
Black & white Warbler1
American Redstart131
Ovenbird62
Northern Waterthrush36
Connecticut Warbler8
Common Yellowthroat122
Common Grackle2
TOTAL1009

Spring 2022 Totals (from March 15)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Sharp-shinned Hawk1
Common Ground-dove4
Chuck-will’s Widow4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1
Red-bellied Woodpecker1
Blue-headed Vireo1
Black-whiskered Vireo1
Veery1
Bicknell’s Thrush6
Wood Thrush1
Gray Catbird724
Brown Thrasher1
Northern Parula22
Magnolia Warbler3
Cape May Warbler18
Black-throated Blue Warbler117
Prairie Warbler72
Western Palm Warbler9
Blackpoll Warbler14
Black & white Warbler543
American Redstart2321
Worm-eating Warbler40
Swainson’s Warbler14
Ovenbird1363
Northern Waterthrush116
Louisiana Waterthrush3
Kentucky Warbler2
Connecticut Warbler18
Common Yellowthroat1501
Hooded Warbler2
Northern Cardinal813
Rose-breasted Grosbeak1
Indigo Bunting4
Painted Bunting41
Common Grackle4
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL11633525824614.71
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One good day!

The peak days of spring migration in late April featured continuing strong easterly winds, and the majority of migrating birds were blown to the west of us; coming up through Cape Sable and Southwest Florida. We have heard this story a lot in the last two years.

The winds relaxed towards the end of the month, and we were greeted with thunderstorms over our site in the morning of April 30, delaying net opening by a couple of hours. The rain moved away by 1030, and we started seeing birds in the woods! Ovenbirds were especially abundant, and we were herding them in front of us as we walked the trails. 40 of the 79 birds banded this day were Ovenbirds! Cape May Warblers were also common, although they mostly stayed out of reach in the tops of the fruiting strangler figs. Some American Redstarts and Northern Waterthrush arrived late in the afternoon.

Here is a selection of some of the birds banded in the last week. The interesting variety is somewhat making up for the lack of numbers this spring.

Young male American Redstart with blotches of adult black plumage on face. Unusual for warblers, American Redstart males maintain the immature yellow plumage through their first breeding summer. (Photo by Michelle Davis)

The third Brown Thrasher ever banded at CFBS and the first for spring. They are closely related to the Northern Mockingbird and Gray Catbird, and is one of several very common species across the eastern US that are surprisingly rare in South Florida. (photo by Steffanie Munguia)

Hi there! A Western Palm Warbler putting on some bright color before heading north to breed. (Photo by Steffanie Munguia)

Female Indigo Bunting showing some touches of soft blue and a bicolored bill for breeding season (photo by Miriam Avello)

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler; he is just as bright in fall as in spring unlike many species (Photo by Miriam Avello)

These last two species were the most unusual captures on April 30 and added a little spice to the day.

Bicknell’s Thrush, closely related to the Gray-cheeked Thrush and considered a subspecies by some. They are smaller and warmer in tone, as well as having a recognizably different song. (Photo by Miriam Avello)

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, another infrequent visitor to South Florida. (photo by Miriam Avello)

The Phoebes birding group visited the station on Sunday May 1, and they were able to see a few birds in the hand and learn about the data we collect, although most of the birds from the day before had moved on. All those Ovenbirds left the previous night to continue their journey.

Miriam points out molt limits used to age birds to Phoebes walk participants. (photo by Michelle Davis)

April 30 2022

SPECIESNEWRECAP
Bicknell’s Thrush1
Gray Catbird1
Northern Parula1
Cape May Warbler3
Black-throated Blue Warbler11
Western Palm Warbler1
Black & white Warbler2
American Redstart9
Worm-eating Warbler1
Ovenbird401
Northern Waterthrush2
Common Yellowthroat5
Northern Cardinal1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak1
Indigo Bunting1
TOTAL792

Spring 2022 Totals (from March 15)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Sharp-shinned Hawk1
Common Ground-dove3
Chuck-will’s Widow4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1
Blue-headed Vireo1
Black-whiskered Vireo1
Bicknell’s Thrush1
Wood Thrush1
Gray Catbird714
Brown Thrasher1
Northern Parula14
Magnolia Warbler1
Cape May Warbler14
Black-throated Blue Warbler53
Prairie Warbler71
Western Palm Warbler9
Black & white Warbler383
American Redstart471
Worm-eating Warbler40
Swainson’s Warbler13
Ovenbird773
Northern Waterthrush33
Louisiana Waterthrush3
Kentucky Warbler2
Common Yellowthroat341
Hooded Warbler2
Northern Cardinal812
Rose-breasted Grosbeak1
Indigo Bunting4
Painted Bunting41
Common Grackle1
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
SEASON TOTAL58031256700.59.18
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Waiting Game

We are in a period of unfavorable winds for concentrating large numbers of migrants along the Atlantic coast, with strong easterly winds forecast through the foreseeable future. A bit disappointing as we enter the peak of the season, but this is the prevailing wind direction and bird migration has evolved accordingly. Songbirds traveling between North, Central and South America in spring generally are following paths to the west of their southbound routes in fall; a phenomenon known as loop migration. The end result of this for observers in Florida is that we see fewer species overall in spring than in fall, but certain species such as the Blackpoll Warbler are much more common in spring. Some species, such as the Black-throated Blue Warbler whose winter range is almost entirely in the Greater Antilles, are common here in both spring and fall.

Still, new species are trickling in. Here are some of the recent highlights:

Adult male Indigo Bunting banded on April 14, showing perfect blue spring plumage. (photo by Liz Golden)

Male Hooded Warbler banded on April 12, for a touch of bright yellow. Most Hoodeds cross the Gulf from Mexico and land in Texas or Louisiana, so they are a special treat at Cape Florida. (photo by Michelle Davis)

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are common winter residents in South Florida, but they leave us in the spring to breed further north. This is the first hummingbird we have caught since 2008. We release them unbanded after taking information about age, sex and condition, since a specific permit is required to band hummingbirds. This is a female from April 13. (photo by Michelle Davis)

Black-whiskered Vireos, on the other hand, winter to the south of us and are just now returning to breed in mangroves and hardwood hammocks across South Florida. The very similar Red-eyed Vireos are passing through to points north for breeding, but they are holding breeding territories as close by as Big Cypress. This bird, probably a male, was banded on April 16. (photo by Michelle Davis)

Spring 2022 Totals (from March 15)

SPECIESNEWRETURN
Sharp-shinned Hawk1
Common Ground-dove1
Chuck-will’s Widow4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1
Blue-headed Vireo1
Black-whiskered Vireo1
Wood Thrush1
Gray Catbird594
Northern Parula7
Cape May Warbler2
Black-throated Blue Warbler20
Prairie Warbler70
Western Palm Warbler5
Black & white Warbler273
American Redstart281
Worm-eating Warbler33
Swainson’s Warbler12
Ovenbird123
Northern Waterthrush19
Louisiana Waterthrush3
Kentucky Warbler2
Common Yellowthroat141
Hooded Warbler1
Northern Cardinal511
Indigo Bunting1
Painted Bunting21
Common Grackle1
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
      
SEASON TOTAL358272546898.13
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