South Texas Banding

So, I took a day off from racking up life birds (seeing birds I've never seen before) for some songbird banding. After two days of bus trips and one day of birding around all over on my own, I was ready for some low key activity. On this trip we sat on a patio of Los Ebanos Preserve. We were even served coffee while birds were brought to us! Above we have bander Mark Conway handing a dove to a young lad very excited about birds. Mark is awesome. He's a careful bander who is a high school teacher in his spare time, this gives him the rare ability to educate while doing in the midst of banding.

Mark does quite a bit of work with South Texas subspecies. He's currently working to prove that there are a separate population of common yellowthroats (above) and Carolina wrens (below).

It was a treat to watch banding in a different area and to see different birds come in. Mark and his assistance must do their banding early in the morning before it gets too hot and over stresses the birds.

Here we have a field trip leader by the name of Richard Gibbons. He's reading the bander's bible by Peter Pyle. It's one of the hardest to read bird books out there but is key in aging and sexing birds in the hand. Richard was reading Pyle out loud which is tough on birders and can work as an instant sleep aid. Pure evil.

It was fun to see so many great birds up close, like this female golden fronted woodpecker.

She was a noisy bird, squealing the whole time they had her for banding. She reminds me of a blond red-bellied woodpecker.

Here's something you don't see every day--the yellow eye of a mockingbird. These guys gave a very plaintive "mew" while being banded. Mockingbirds are such fierce defenders of their territory, it was surprising to hear such a sad little cry from them.

Here's a black-crested titmouse. Don't let that cute face fool you...

This bird had bite. The banders were very careful around the titmice. That sharp bill they use for cracking open seeds and nuts is a handy tool for wedging under fingernails.

Here's one of the many white-tipped doves we got in the nets--check out those crazy yellow eyes.

The doves also had beautiful purple iridescent feathers on the back of the neck. From this angle you can really see what a tiny head holds an even tinier brain that governs a very large body. How do doves manage it?

This was one of the cutest doves we got in, an Inca dove. What was so interesting about these tiny guys was how fast they flew and how quickly their wings flapped. I'm so used to the larger morning doves who lumber around, it was a shock to see these zippy little dudes.

It was a nice way to round out the festival.