Bird Banding is for the birds

Last Saturday morning Ann and I were invited to observe the banding of birds at Dan Brown’s Hummer House, near Christoval, Texas.  When we arrived about 8:00 AM the mist nets were up and the bird snaring was under way.  The banding was done by Concho Valley Bird Banding, a licensed group led by Charles Floyd.  For those who are uninformed about bird banding, these licensed banders catch birds, document the specie, record age, etc, then attach tiny metal bands to the leg.  This band has information on it so the bird can be traced.

White-eyed Vireo in mist net

The birds are not endangered in any way.  The mist net is so called because it is so fine that you can walk into it without realizing it is there.  The banders locate the nets in locations where there is the most bird activity.  They wait an hour or so, then they “run” the nets, picking off the tiny birds, which they deposit in little pouches hanging from their jackets or belts.  They then return to their work area, which is a table set up nearby.  They examine the birds, record the pertinent data and attache the bands.  After photographing them, they are released.

Bander Charles Floyd running the nets

It is a great opportunity to get close-up photographs of the different species.  I have included here some of my images from there.

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Wilson's Warbler

Pine Siskin

I hope you have enjoyed this narrative and the images.  Click on any photo to see enlargements.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I recently had the experience of seeing a Red-shouldered Hawk  (Buteo limeatus) sitting on the nest.  Later I saw him swoop down to get to a piece of raw meat on the ground.  This took place at Dan Brown’s Hummer House and bird refuge.  Dan, himself, tossed out the meat.  I was on hand with my Canon 7d with a 500mm lens, attached to a Manfrotto tripod.  My goal was to photograph the hawk as he grabbed the meat.  I was a little slow, or the bird was very, very fast.  Take your pick.  I prefer to say that he was just too fast for me. 🙂

Feeding Red-Shouldered Hawk

Anyway I missed the shot, but I did get a nice image of him feeding on the meat.   Sibley’s describes the Red-shouldered Hawk as a small forest buteo, usually found near water, hunts mainly mammals, some reptiles and amphibians from perches.  It is rather compact, stocky, and accipiter-like with relatively short, broad wings; all show translucent pale crescent across wingtips.  It has a noticeable red area on the shoulders.  This next photo shows him sitting on a tree branch.

Red-shouldered Hawk

On an earlier trip to the Davis Mountains, we spotted this next one in an open field, watching for a meal.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Enjoy the photos and click on any of them to see an enlargement.

In other news, Suzanne and Sid Johnson, of  Eldorado, Texas were fortunate to see a Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) near the south entrance to San Angelo State Park on Saturday, January 8.   Dr. Terry Maxwell of Angelo State University, stated there has only been around eight sightings of that species in this area in the past half-century.   Naturally, I have been on the watch since then to try to get a glimpse of it myself.  So far, my search has been in vain.

Happy Birding