Mad Island Banding

April 17, 2012 by Pete Marra

Every spring millions and millions of migratory birds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico and make land fall at places like the TNC's Mad Island Preserve in Texas. Thanks to support from SCBI champion Helen DuBois and the Trull Foundation, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) is there to greet these tired travelers back to the United States. A collaborative effort, SMBC along with TNC and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory plan to combine a rigorous bird banding effort along with a educational activities for local Texas school groups to excite the masses about migratory birds and their migration. Please check in with us regularly from now until mid-May to see how this amazing animal migration is faring.

Bea Harrison, the lead bander, writes:

"Two big days at the station! Storms yesterday preceded a cool front, forcing birds to delay their migration and stop at Mad Island. Today we had a north wind for a while, dropping more migrates into the trees. We were so excited when we caught 2 beautiful scissor-tailed flycatchers! Their long forked tails were very lovely and the red-orange under their wing was so bright!"

"For the 2 days we got nearly 200 birds. We had a huge group of gray catbirds, gorgeous gray with rusty undertail; many orange and black Baltimore orioles; and rusty and black orchard orioles with their yellow females. We also banded lots of indigo buntings, mostly showy males, but we are beginning to see a few females. Warblers: hooded, black-and-white, Tennessee, northern waterthrush, common yellowthroat, blue-winged, ovenbird, Kentucky, northern parula, palm, yellow, cerulean, black-throated green, worm-eating. Vireos: white-eyed, Philadelphia, red-eyed. We were pleased to catch our first eastern wood-pewee and 2 yellow-billed cuckoos!"