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Young Naturalists in the Mist (Nets)

November 16, 2009

For the last event of the inaugural year of the Wake Audubon Young Naturalist’s Club we decided to keep things close, and not just close in the sense that we stayed in Wake County at the State Natural Science Museum’s Prairie Ridge Ecostation, though we did that.  But close in the sense that we were going to get the birds for which we’d traveled all over the state before right in our hands.  The banding station there has been a staple of my blog for some time, and while we don’t typically get anything really rare, keeping track of the regular birds occasionally produces some surprises.

For instance, Prairie Ridge is again host to a wintering Loggerhead Shrike.  Though we spotted it, the bird sadly avoided our nets.  It did, however, rechristen the Hackberry tree that had served as its larder last year.  There were a couple juicy beetle larva impaled on the two-inch spines.  Hopefully, it’s a sign that the birds is marking its territory and intending to stay the season.

Grub a la Shrike

But banding was the name of the game, and even the hardest-heartened young person (not that we have any of those in this group already predisposed to dig this stuff) cannot help but be amazed with the opportunity to hold a bird. Fortunately, though we started slow once the morning winds died down we started getting birds in the nets regularly.  Enough so that every individual got an opportunity to hold and release a bird, and in many cases several.  The mockingbirds were big hits because of their personality.  They never seem to give up and accept their fate, like other birds we’d netted, continuing to squawk and scream through the entire process.

Mockingbirds make their presence known

Notably, we recaptured a Mockingbird that had last caught in the spring of 2006, making it nearly four years old.  That’s a pretty ripe old age for a passerine, and would have been the best bird of the day if we hadn’t pulled both species of Kinglet out of the same net at the same time.  It offered some opportunity to get to know the species and see their eponymous crowns, something you almost never get to do in the field. I also thought it was an opportunity to show off my prodigious photography skills.  The birds were so tiny and so catatonic in the hand so we tried to minimize their time in at the station.  By the time I realized that my point and shoot camera had focused on the scenery rather than the birds, the Golden-crown was gone.  Oh well, it was a missed opportunity for the nice comparative shot, but there’s never a bad opportunity to show of my photographic blunders.

The rarely known Regulus blurri

With the end of the 2009 Young Naturalist’s calender, it’s time to look forward to the next year.  I’m helping to lead some trips that I’m particularly excited about, the first of which is a day out east at Lake Mattamuskeet NWR to look for wintering waterfowl, raptors, and whatever other cool stuff we can find, and for Matta, it could be a lot.

Rest assured you’ll hear about it right here, too.

  1. Greg permalink
    November 16, 2009 9:27 am

    One of your young naturalists, Ali, has some great shots of the Kinglet pair at his blog site,
    Sounds like a great day of banding!

  2. November 16, 2009 10:55 am

    Yes, you are a lousy landscape photographer: just a tiny step to the right would have cleared the landscape of those blurry bird blogs.


  3. November 16, 2009 10:56 am

    Ha, typo again, and again not sure if a real typo or subconscious control: blob, not blog (obviously, and an obvious mistake to make).

  4. Nate permalink*
    November 17, 2009 3:32 pm

    @Dad- Ali was taking lots of photos that day. He certainly got some winners.

    @Jochen- I know, so close to perfect. Frustrating, you know?

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