Mad Island Banding

April 6, 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:

"Yesterday was another big day for species diversity! We banded 19 birds of 13 species. The highlights were blue-winged warbler and field sparrow. We also caught a male orange-crowned warbler, Nashville warbler, ruby-crowned kinglet and yellow-breasted chats."

Blue-winged warbler (left), field sparrow (right). Photos by Jerry Acton.

"We had light winds, which gave the swarms of mosquitoes ample opportunity to torment us until thunderstorms in late afternoon, sent us scurrying to close the nets."

"We are enjoying other migratory birds here at Mad Island, such as a flock of dowitchers feeding in a shallow marsh, a group of black-necked stilts sailing past the banding station and graceful scissor-tailed flycatchers calling and landing in the tree tops."