Archive for the ‘Banded Birds’ Category

Band-injured Green Jay

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Loughman to Rappole and Glasscock – 9/25/08: A week ago several of the CONE observers noticed a color-banded Green Jay where the band appeared to be causing a problem with the foot. We’ve seen this bird again today, and can see that the bird is in trouble. Please see the attached pictures.  [Click on picture to see CONE observer’s comments]

At least two of us are banders, and agree we would want to know if a band was harming the bird. We urge you to attempt to re-capture the bird and remove the band. As I hope you can imagine, it’s upsetting to all observers to see a creature whose suffering appears due to the hand of man. Thank you.

Rappole to Loughman and Glasscock – 9/26/08: Thank you for bringing this problem to our attention. We will do our best to correct it, but please understand that capture of Green Jays is not easy. It took me a month to capture and band the six young birds that visit the feeder now. Also, as you know from your own banding experience, recapture of birds once captured is generally more difficult than original capture.

Green Jays, as you may know, are very hard on bands. They work at them with their powerful bills, and the most likely scenario in this case is that this bird will fully remove the band itself. We will hope for that outcome, and, in the meantime, take what action we can to try and correct it ourselves.

Loughman to Rappole and Glasscock – 9/26/08: Thank you for your note. Having banded Western Scrub-Jays, I am indeed aware of the challenges! Whatever you can do will be appreciated.

Rappole to Loughman and Glasscock – 9/27/08: Thanks, Kay. Please feel free to point out any similar situations that you or other participants may encounter. When it comes to the actual proper operation of the program, we want to know of any problems immediately so that they can be corrected.


Updated pictures:






Banded Hummingbird at Welder

Monday, August 11th, 2008

On Sunday afternoon, August 10, CONE players at Welder found a banded Buff-bellied Hummingbird – first observed and photographed by birdbrain. We know that the protocol for the project indicates hummingbirds will be banded, but we had not seen a banded hummer before yesterday. I wrote to John Rappole to inquire:

Loughman: Can you tell us whether your group has actually banded hummingbirds at Welder Wildlife Refuge? This afternoon there have been a large number of hummingbird visits to at least one of the feeders at Welder. We have taken pictures of Buff-bellied, Black-chinned, and Ruby-throated hummers. In the last hour, we have seen at least one Buff-bellied Hummingbird with a band on the right leg, and possibly one on the left as well. Is this likely to be one of yours? Your comments appreciated.

Rappole: We have not yet banded any hummingbirds at Welder.

I sent a similar message to Brent Ortego, whom I have met at hummingbird banding conferences, and who lives in Victoria, TX – about 40 miles from Welder:

Loughman: I’m monitoring a remote camera at Welder Wildlife Refuge – I think it is not far from Victoria, TX. This afternoon we saw a banded Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and I immediately thought of you. Is this likely to be one of your birds? The protocol for the project at Welder (P.I. is John Rappole) says that they would band BCHU and BUFH, but we haven’t seen any evidence before today. If you are actually the one doing the banding there, I’d be glad to know anything you can tell me about the program – and I’d pass it on to the 30 or so others who are also monitoring the camera, none of whom are even close to Texas.

Ortego: I have not banded hummingbirds on Welder Wildlife. However, I have banded hundreds of Buff-bellies near Victoria and Rockport. I have heard there was a MAPS banding program at Welder, but those do not normally band hummers. Buff-bellies are starting to leave their breeding grounds in search of areas of very high food concentrations to undergo body molt. The bird you observed might not be a resident of the area. Did you save a video clip of the banded bird and is there possibility of reading the band?

Loughman: Thanks for your prompt response. Unfortunately, the camera resolution is nowhere near good enough to read bands – even on much larger birds. I’m attaching a picture (no.35046) so you can see one of the best! It’s hard to confirm, but there may actually be a band on each leg. I’ve sent an inquiry to Dr. Rappole, but have not yet received a response. If you are interested in learning more about the project, you can read all about it at:

 Ortego: I was not able to determine if there were two bands. There definitely appears to be one. I am not familiar with anybody banding on both legs. I have two adult males (which this bird is) which carry a 2nd band because the first band is so old that the numbers have faded away. One bird is a 12-year-old BUFH. He is due to arrive back at my banding station in September.

Based on our pictures and our “live” observations, I believe this bird (am assuming it was one individual) is banded on both legs (see nos. 35075 and 35076).

Interesting Behavior

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Identification challenges are fun, but observing behavior is even more fun.

I posted an item the other day about the Green Jay spreading its feathers out in the sun (see Odd jay behavior). I likened it to “anting” (the behavior where birds will spread their feathers on an anthill, or even pick up ants and rub them on themselves), but after a little googling of the subject I guess it would more properly be referred to as sunbathing. Lots of birds do it, perhaps to control mites and other parasites.

Here’s a shot that vanilla got today of a male Red-winged Blackbird sunbathing:

There was a comment of “poor thing” on the photo, but I think the bird is probably fine.

As long as we’re looking at redwings (and let’s face it; with CONE Welder we end up looking at redwings a lot), check out this shot that txbird got of three male redwings engaging in display behavior. Nice epaulettes, eh?

Birds aren’t the only things on the birdcam engaging in interesting behavior. The last few nights we’ve had fun watching this raccoon demonstrate his high-wire skills getting onto and off of the feeder. There are some occasional dicey moments, though, like in this shot by whereismyrobot:

Another behavior that users have been commenting on is the display posture that the male Great-tailed Grackles adopt when they’re trying to look impressive. Here’s a great shot that txbird got May 8 at 3:40 p.m.:

Three minutes later, vanilla got this shot of two males posing, with a female on the right side of the frame:

Actual mating is a behavior I don’t remember us ever getting a shot of during the seven months CONE SF was active, but earlier today thedevilbird and txbird both snapped the same shot of a pair of Inca Doves mating. Here it is:

According to the comments the male dove from that pair is the bird in this shot, taken shortly thereafter by robin54. You can barely make out what appears to be an orange band on the bird’s right leg:

Thanks to everyone for getting these amazing shots!

John Rappole Speaks!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

John Rappole, the scientist whose work on shifting bird breeding ranges forms the basis for the scientific goals of the CONE Welder installation, sent a few comments to an email thread with Ken Goldberg (the robotics researcher who is one of the main people behind the CONE project). I was lucky enough to be included on that thread, and John Rappole said it would be okay if I reposted his comments to the blog, so here they are:


I checked out the blog. They got just the kind of shots that we had hoped for the Green Jay. Silver left, Green right and Silver left, Black right were both part of a group of six birds that were captured on 30 April at 0700h near the feeders. All six are probably non-breeders (unknown sex and age with no brood patch or cloacal protuberance), probably young of the year from last year. Time will tell. I am hoping that Solon Morse, who is on-site working on rapid range change documentation at Welder for me, will be able to catch one or more of the breeding jays in the vicinity.

It looks like the bloggers are having fun on their own, and their guesses are on target so far – Baltimore Oriole, Painted Bunting, Louisiana Waterthrush, Barn Swallow, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Indigo Bunting, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and European Starling are all correct. The only one I would question is the photo shown above the Indigo Bunting entry, which I think is probably a robin rather than a starling – but it doesn’t really matter. I think I will just keep out of the blog, and let them do what they want to do. Responding to their questions could become a full time job!



So there you go. It sounds like what we’re doing is definitely proving useful, especially with the identification of banded birds. With that in mind, here are a few banded-bird shots from the last few days.

First is this shot that txbird took on May 5, showing a rain-soaked Green Jay with a silver band on each leg:

And here’s what I believe is probably a female Brown-headed Cowbird photographed by txbird on May 6, showing a silver band on the right leg (left leg not visible):

Keep those banded-bird shots coming!

Matching Bracelets

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I got a couple of good shots of two different Green Jays this morning, showing their leg bands. Both jays have a silver band on the left leg. One of them has a black band on the right leg, while the other has a green band on the right leg:

I assume it’s worth our keeping track of the banded birds we see, especially for species of interest in the shifting-breeding-range study (like the Green Jay).

Update: Dr. John Rappole commented as follows in a later email:

Silver left, Green right and Silver left, Black right were both part of a group of six birds that were captured on 30 April at 0700h near the feeders. All six are probably non-breeders (unknown sex and age with no brood patch or cloacal protuberance), probably young of the year from last year.

More from his email in John Rappole speaks!