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Posts Tagged ‘bird banding’

I have seen an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) only a few times in my life, so I was thrilled last week when I spotted one last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my second sighting of this species this year. Once again I was struck by the brilliant blue coloration of its feathers—even from a distance the bird’s amazing blue color really stood out.

As I was doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that Indigo Buntings, along with other buntings and grosbeaks, are part of the Cardinalidae family, which I tend to associate with the bright red Northern Cardinals. When I look at the first photo, though, I must admit that the raised crest on the head of the bunting does remind me a bit of a cardinal.

I did not notice it when I took the first photo, but as I was processing the first image I spotted what appears to be a band on the bird’s right leg—I encourage you to click on the image to get a closer look at that leg. There is a bird banding station at this wildlife refuge and several years ago I visited it and watched the fascinating process of bird banding (see my 2018 posting entitled Visit to a banding station). I recall being amazed at the range of sizes of the bands, which allow for the banding of birds even smaller than the Indigo Bunting, which is about 5 inches (13 cm) in length.

I believe that Indigo Buntings remain with us all summer, so I will be keeping my eyes open for them during future visits. However, I couldn’t help but notice how the trees are now covered with leaves and the vegetation is lush, which makes it really hard for me to see small birds, even when I am able to hear them.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last weekend I again visited the bird banding station at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and was thrilled to see the friendly folks there process a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa), which are among the smallest birds in our area. Bands come in all different sizes and kinglets require the absolutely smallest-sized bands.

Here are some shots of the encounter including the initial processing of the bird; the actual banding of the bird (note its tiny legs); examination of the feathers of the bird; and the moment before the release of one of the little birds by a young visitor.

I love the fact that I was able to get so much closer to the bird and see so many wonderful details about its feathers and coloration than I would ever be able to do in the wild. As the old saying goes, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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