ASCM May Nature Walks

Thanks to our Nature Walk Leaders for these reports on our May Nature Walks!

Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary - May 10, 2014

On May 10, more than 20 visitors came to the Audrey Carroll Sanctuary to see our annual demonstration of bird banding. Weather had threatened, but by good fortune the skies cleared at exactly the right time for a few hours that Saturday morning, and the demonstration could proceed.

Poles and mist nets had been set up on Thursday and Friday, and the banders arrived at the sanctuary at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday to open the nets.

Things were very slow at first, but by 8 a.m. when the visitors arrived, the action picked up. The most spectacular bird, one which was recognized by many, was a male Baltimore Oriole. Cameras clicked furiously as the bird's wing was spread to show the brilliant colors.

Each bird that was captured received a numbered band, and after recording the time, date and location of capture as well as the bird's sex and age (when it could be determined), the bird was released unharmed.

While most Marylanders can recognize a male Baltimore Oriole, a female with its less bright plumage was less familiar. And several of the birds captured were species which most people have not even heard of: these included several White-eyed Vireos and a Canada Warbler. The latter was an especially beautiful subject for everything from Nikons to smart phones.
Birds banded during the morning were:

4 White-eyed Vireos
4 Carolina Chickadees
4 Common Yellowthroats
1 Canada Warbler
1 House Wren
1 Traill's Flycatcher
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Swainson's Thrush
1 Orchard Oriole
2 Baltimore Orioles
9 Gray Catbirds
6 Northern Cardinals

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was caught in the nets but released unbanded (a special permit is required for banding Hummingbirds).

Five birds were caught that already had bands: A Gray Catbird and a White-eyed Vireo which had been banded earlier in the day, a Field Sparrow and a White-eyed Vireo which had been banded in May of 2013, and a Common Yellowthroat which had been banded in 2012. It was a source of inspiration to find these birds which had returned to their home at Audrey Carroll after their long migrations.

The bands were applied to the birds by John Weske, who provided a fascinating narration of subjects such as how the age and sex of the birds are determined, and the migration patterns of the different species. Several children present were especially thrilled at such close looks at the birds.

Karin Wuertz-Schaefer was kept running extracting the captured birds from the widely-dispersed nets, and Tom Humphrey also participated in this and told some amusing stories of his experiences banding raptors. Bob Schaefer recorded the data and Mark Kulis helped with logistics, especially with the take-down of the nets which was really appreciated after a long and tiring morning.

But of course things could have been even better! Birds heard or seen during the morning but not captured included:
1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Barred Owl, several Wild Turkeys, 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, 1 Black-billed Cuckoo, 2+ Eastern Towhees, 2 Prairie Warblers, several Eastern Bluebirds, several Tree Swallows, 1 Red-eyed Vireo, to name but a few.

Bob Schaefer, Walk Organizer and Leader

2014 - R. Schaefer & The Audubon Society of Central Maryland

 Updated: 06.04.14