Mad Island Banding

April 12, 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:

"With another day of strong onshore winds carrying them further inland, very few birds stopped at Mad Island today. We only caught 14 new birds, including northern waterthrush, indigo bunting, red-eyed and white-eyed vireo, Kentucky warbler, Orchard oriole and Carolina chickadee.

The day started out quietly, with a beautiful rosette spoonbill flying low over our tent. But, we had lots of other excitement at the banding station.

First, we watched a Pomarine Jaeger attack and try to kill a laughing gull.

Then, a 1.5 meter long Western Diamondback Rattlesnake decided to join us in our banding tent."

Pomarine Jaeger (left), Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (right).

"Then, on our drive home, we saw a young alligator, (2 meters long), lying in the road and rather than slip off into the ditch, it tried to outrun the truck!

Never a dull moment here at Mad Island!"