Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Swampy Monday

On Monday, we were once again banding Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest as part of the ongoing Project PROTHO. However, this time we were not on the boardwalk, but stomping through the swamp!

Prior to dismounting the boardwalk, we did see some birds that were definitely not the bright, yellow Prothonotary Warbler. Over 100 White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) were either resting and digesting on the boardwalk handrail or wading through the shallow water in search of their next crayfish meal. The bills and legs of the birds become a dark pink and scarlet red respectively during the display stage of the breeding season. As individuals become ready to breed the bill and legs fade to a muted pink and the bill begins to blacken from the tip back toward the head. The juvenile is mottled gray and white.

Because of salt stress, nestlings do not develop normally on brackish water crustaceans, so nearby freshwater feeding sites are essential for successful breeding at coastal colonies.-- (Heath, Julie A., Peter Frederick, James A. Kushlan and Keith L. Bildstein. 2009. White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
doi:10.2173/bna.9) Beidler Forest fits that bill perfectly!

Once off the boardwalk, we were able to band several male and female Prothonotary Warblers with help from kids and adults of the Eagle Eyes Birding Club from the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy in Phinizy Swamp across the border in Georgia. Not only did the kids enjoy being in the swamp and being up close to the Prothonotary Warblers, but they even spent some time after lunch searching for a Swainson's Warbler...a life bird!

Images by Mark Musselman

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