April Banding Activities

We started the month's banding activities on April 4th at the Hummer House where we were privileged to present a demonstration of bird banding for an outstanding group of students from Christoval Elementary School. Although the day was very windy, we had no difficulty netting birds. Although only a few birds were netted for our demonstration, we were surprised to band our first migrating Clay-colored Sparrows of the season. We were pleased to share with these students about bird migration and bird behavior. We then processed several birds doing standard measurements and explained briefly how these birds were aged and sexed. These young people were fascinated to be up close and personal with the birds. They enjoyed getting to release some of the birds. We certainly enjoyed this opportunity to meet them and share the birds with them.

We returned to the Hummer House on April 7 and 8 to band migrant birds at the spring.  We deployed fifteen nets for a total of seventy-five  net hours. Thirty birds and 10 species were netted.  We were surprised to net thirteen Orange-crowned Warblers in this short session and we were encouraged by  the numbers of birds present.  One week later, we made the same effort in the same area.  We encountered much larger numbers of migrants than we had the previous week.  With only two members of our group present, we were rescued by a guest at the ranch who graciously helped us by recording our data. We processed 61 birds of twelve species including thirty-four Orange-crowned Warblers, ten Nashville Warblers, and five Wilson's Warblers.  We also encountered our first Brewer's Sparrow of the season. On April 18, we traveled to Calcite Ranch in Mason County to check for returns of migrant birds that were banded there in previous years. We netted several returns and banded a female Scott's Oriole, Vesper Sparrows, and Bell's Vireos.

On April 19th, four members of our group were present at the Hummer House to conduct a banding demonstration for students from Ambleside Elementary. Nets were deployed in the yard of the Hummer House where we encountered thirty-six birds of eleven species. The bird of that day was an adult male Vermilion Flycatcher. We enjoyed meeting these students and letting them get "up close and personal" with the birds.  Six members of our group returned to the Hummer House on April 23rd to conduct a demonstration for members of Delbert Tartar's Nature Center Birding Class. We banded ninety-two birds representing nineteen species. It was a bunting day as we banded Indigo, Lazuli, and Painted Buntings on the same day along with Blue Grosbeaks and four warblers.  We always have a great time banding with this knowledgeable and interested group. It is always great to have Delbert band with us.
The Black-crested Titmouse returns with food to hole in tree near the banding table.
On April 29th, we returned to the Hummer House to band for an outdoor education group from Richland College in Dallas. By the time that we arrived, winds were approaching 40 miles per hour. We had five nets set at the spring and four in the yard of the Hummer House.  Before the group arrived, a wildfire had closed the road to San Angelo and we were not expecting to have any success in banding. Imagine our surprise when we banded the first Gray Catbird and the first Tennessee Warbler ever banded there. We have no memory or recent record of a Tennessee Warbler ever banded in the Concho Valley. We also banded a House Wren, two Northern Waterthrushes, Two MacGillivray's Warblers, and a Swainson's Thrush. Any one of these birds would have made the day successful. We banded a total of 82 birds representing  26 species. Once the group arrived, they were an informed and interested group. It was a delight to demonstrate for them even if we were all a bit windblown.  It was a great day on the worst possible day.

Perhaps the most important statistic for the month involved the beginnings of our Painted Bunting Study.  The first Painted Bunting arrived at the Hummer House on April 14th. Since that time, we have banded 48 and we have recaptured 38 birds that were returns of birds banded at the Hummer House in previous years.  Among these birds was a bird first banded in the summer of 2000. This makes two adult males documented to be at least 11 years of age. Both are longevity records for this species. More than a few of these returns are older than five years of age. It should be an interesting summer for the Painted Buntings.