Banding and Woodcocking

What an action packed day!

It started by getting proofs for the 2007 Birding Calendars that Stan Tekiela and I work on. This time we ended up doing Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio! Boy, they sure look sweet with Stan’s photos, he’s such an artist.

This morning I took up Jim Fitzpatrick’s offer to observe the songbird banding that happens at Carpenter Nature Center on Friday mornings. I was so excited to see Tom Bell is a part of it. Tom is one of my favorite birders, if I had to describe him it would be to think if Lee Marvin and James Coburn had a child, it would have been Tom Bell. And, for the record, Tom Bell told me that he has been birding several times with Tom Nelson and that Mr. Nelson is a very good birder and a nice guy.

I have observed songbird banding a few times but have never gotten into it quite as much as I have with the raptors and the pelicans. I joked that I liked to band birds that didn’t require a magnifying glass in order to get the band on. That’s Tom Bell at right using a magnifier to place a band on a junco.

Nets weren’t used today because it was so windy. Not many birders were coming into the potter’s traps so we had time on our hands. I announced to the group that I had a pocket full of pellets to dissect, so we did that while we waited for more birds. Based on the size of pellets, the owl feathers found with them and the habitat where the pellets were found, we think we were dissecting long-eared owl pellets.

We found at least three skulls, some ribs, vertebrae and even a few tails. One of the pellets had larger bone fragments but they were very porous, so it must be from some type of bird. Since I found the pellets around a woodcock lek, I wonder if they were woodcock bones?

We did get a female cardinal in one of the traps. Your probably wondering if she was possessed based on the photo at left. She just happened to bring down her extra eyelid when I snapped the photo, it’s called a nictitating membrane. Birds use this when they fly or when eating to protect their eyes. There's a photo without the extra eyelid below. Surprisingly, cardinals are not the favorite of banders. That fat bill they use to get seeds out of the shell works quite nicely in slicing human skin as well.

When I got home, I got word that this fall Amber and I will be leading an Eagle Optics Raptor Migration Trip to—brace yourself—Veracruz, Mexico! If anyone is interested in hanging out with a couple of fun chicks and sipping margaritas while watching a million or so raptors, contact Preferred Adventures at 1-800-840-8687. We will also be looking for other species besides raptors, but this will be fun trip, as Amber and I like to put the wild in wild bird.

Tonight Non Birding Bill and I went out for more woodcock action at Carver Park and even more exciting than that, we have put together a little video on how to go out for woodcocks. It will be showing up soon on either or I can’t believe the footage NBB got—not bad for a non-birder. I must say, there's nothing sexier than a man who can get a woodcock in focus on a cold spring evening! Here’s a teaser photo: