Sunday, May 18, 2014

Birdlog #12 - 5-18-14: Birdfest!

"Hey! Lemme go!"
Bird banding is really cool. But what is bird banding, you ask? Bird banding is the term for putting that little ring around the bird's leg. Seems pretty useless, except for style (and it doesn't even look very good!) But there's more to it than that - There's an address or phone number of email address or something like that on the band, and when another bander catches that bird in a mist net (a stationary net that's really hard to see), he takes the bird into his banding station and calls, mails, emails... communicates in some way the the original bird bander. That way the first guy know's where the bird is or went! But if the bird dies (which happens frequently, I'm sorry to say), then the first bander doesn't get told where his bird is, therefore he assumes it's dead. The cool thing is that according to the Bird Banding Labratory (BBL) site, over 64,050,611 bird have been banded from 1960 to the present! And on average, over the past decade, the BBL has received over 1.2 million banding and over 87,000 encounter records per year!

That good enough? Anyway, I had to explain all that just so you'd understand this:

The annual Birdfest at the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory (SBBO) this year was amazing! Some highlights were Scarlet Tanager (adult male), Golden-winged Warbler and Magnolia Warbler.

Scarlet Tanager, adult male.

The Sand Bluff Birdfest is just a bird celebration. People come, they buy stuff at the booths, they eat Eickman's amazing burgers, hot dogs or brats, and wander around geeking out at all the stuff to do. Or they could go along with the SBBO volunteers on a net check. My personal favorite is listening to Lee Johnson (one of the master banders) talk about all of the birds that he holds up: After they collect the birds, Mr. Johnson lets us guess the species then gives an astonishingly informative species profile. He does this for each bird almost all day during the Birdfest!

Painted Turtle.
On the long drive home, guess what me and my dad saw? A Painted Turtle crossing the road! It was that first I'd ever seen in the wild. A car ran  over it, but thankfully the driver saw the mischievous little reptile and me waving my hands in warning, so he carefully drove so his tires wouldn't squish him. After he drove away and there were no more cars coming, I ran into the middle of the road, scooped him up, and painfully helped him across - they have really sharp claws! And they skitter like mad. "Who says a turtle is slow?" said my dad. Sometimes Dad complains because "We should've kept him!"



  1. Very informative post! We need to check out that Birdfest one of these years! We believe we saw an Indigo Bunting just yesterday at Anna Page Park - does that seem possible? The color seemed just about right!

    1. Yeah, that seems to be about right. And they are migrating through this time of year, so this is the best time to see them!