Fall Banding At Carpenter Nature Center

Hey, check it out, it's Stardust Girl, proudly holding a bag full of angry red-bellied woodpecker. She's visiting from the Hoosier State of Indiana to see friends, watch the banding at Carpenter Nature Center and to attend the Disapproving Rabbits book release party. The party and signing exceeded my dreams. I really didn't expect that many people to show up, it was a blast and you can read about it here.

Another fun Friday banding songbirds at Carpenter Nature Center. It was interesting to note that we got in quite a few ground feeding birds. You have to kind of watch out when you let ground feeding birds go after you band them. Their natural tendency is to fly low for cover.

Unfortunately, that sometimes lands them right back into the nets! Doh! Yes, after I took the head shot of the cardinal, he was released and went right back into the nets. That's Jim Fox, one of the banders at Carpenter getting him out of the nets...again. Not an easy feat when the cardinal is trying to slice open your skin.

Cardinals weren't the only birds having blond moment (oops, did I anthropomorphize, sorry about that). The same thing happened with a few juncos--again, ground feeding birds looking for cover, get tangled in the net when they fly away. I got this guy out of the net and let him go on the other side. He chipped angrily to a tree. Dude, I may be responsible for the little bit of silver on the leg, but don't blame me when you fly into a net the second time in a day.

But let's not focus on that, let's just focus on the junco cuteness when in hand. I just cannot get enough of these guys! There's another species besides juncos who come to our feeders in winter and I saw my first one of the season in the nets at Carpenter on Friday:

Tree sparrows--these guys with the rusty cap similar to a chipping sparrow should be showing up to feeders about now in the north--all you southerns should have them soon enough. It's hard to see in this photo, but tree sparrows usually have a distinctive spot on their chest. I've had tree sparrows come right up to finch feeders, so don't just watch for them on the ground.

This bird was a surprise on many levels--we just don't get brown creepers too often. But the biggest surprise came as I was downloading the photos and my darling husband aka Non Birding Bill looked over and said, "Oh! Disapproving brown creeper!" I gave him a slack jawed look which he immediately interpreted and followed up with, "I've been around ya' for like 13 years--you pick stuff up."

I think it had more to do with one just being on Mr. Neil's window ledge in recent weeks. What's next, cats and dogs living together?

What was interesting was how we appeared to have gotten the creeper in the nets. As I said, it's just not one that we normally get in our set up, but if you notice in the above photo were Jim is trying to get the creeper out of the nets, you'll notice that the nets lean against a tree trunk. Based on where the bird was located, we think it was creeping up the tree and creeped (or do I mean crept, Amy?) right into the nets. Alas, when we let this one go, it too flew right back into the nets, clearly aiming for a tree trunk on the other side. We're excited about retraps at Carpenter, but we like a little more time between 'em.

Our final bird of the day was the handsomest house finch I have seen all year. When I first saw this bird on the feeders, I did a double take. He was so red, he might have passed as a purple finch to some. But that streaking on his flanks gives him away at ye olde house finche.

We did have one male house finch in the nets this morning with a slightly swollen eye-possibly the early stages of the eye disease they sometimes get. This bird was robust and healthy but I still made a point to wash my hands thoroughly after handling it.

Oh! I also have to point out one crazy little chickadee we had on the table. One of the best parts of banding is that we have a donut pool. Every Friday, someone picks up donuts and we all chip in a dollar. Donuts and banding--throw in Daniel Craig reading me Bent books and you have my idea of heaven. Anyhoo, when we take birds out of the nets, we put them in these mesh bags until they are banded. Jim had laid this bag full of chickadee on the table and has he was prepping the band, the chickadee had hopped over to his donut plate and started pecking at it through the mesh! On the one hand I admire the bird's cleverness, on the other the last thing the world needs is a chickadee souped up on sugar. Can you imagine?