Thursday, October 06, 2016

Geolocators 2.0 - Time to Meet the Birds!

In our last post, we described the process for attaching geolocators to a bird as part of our ongoing project with Prothonotary Warblers (read it here). In this second installment, we'll introduce you to the eight birds that we chose to fit with geolocators at Beidler this spring. We gave each bird a nickname based on the colors of their bands in hopes that it will be easier to remember (and find) them next year. Because each bird is assigned an alphanumeric combination based on their band colors, we thought nicknames might be easier to remember instead of codes like A1501 or A1674! As a reminder, both the bands and the geolocator are attached in as quick and safe of way as possible, causing minimal stress to the birds.  
Here's a reminder of the band colors that we've used over the last three years. Note: the three far right bands with split colors are referred to as "year" bands; each was used on every bird banded in a given year, but not used in any other year.

In order to learn anything from these devices, we have to relocate each bird in 2017 and take the geolocator off. With that in mind, we hope that you'll read on, get to know these birds, and come join us in 2017 as we look for these birds on their return trip to the swamp.

Without further ado, it's time to meet the birds!

Aster was one of the first birds banded when Project PROTHO started back up in 2014. He has returned to Beidler Forest at least three times, and he is the first bird that we’ve ever confirmed nesting in the same exact cavity two years in a row! His territory for the last three years has been right near the #7 rest shelter.  His nickname comes from the green and yellow bands on his right leg, colors shared by sunflowers and other members of the Aster family.

Aster - pictured when he was first banded on April 4th, 2014.

One of only two females to receive a geolocator, Blueberry nested in a nest box near where the boardwalk splits to go to the lake. She got her nickname from the blue and black bands on her right leg. Her mate was Lichen, another bird that received a geolocator (meet him below).

Blueberry - named for her blue and black color bands.
Blueberry with geolocator.

The first bird we banded in 2015, Buckeye has spent the last two springs breeding near the rain shelter at #9 along the boardwalk. He's named for the double red bands on his right leg, the same color as the flowers of the Red Buckeye which blooms in the swamp in early spring. He was the last individual to receive a geolocator, which we attached on July 4th weekend. 

Buckeye with his geolocator.

Buckeye's double red bands on his right leg (Photo by Mac Stone).

Like Buckeye, Holly was banded in 2015; in fact, for the last two years these two males have battled over territory near #9. Holly also has a red band on his right leg, but it is accompanied by a green band, just like the red and green coloration of Holly trees that grow in the swamp's drier areas. 

Holly, aka A1501, being released (photo by Mac Stone).

Indigo was first banded on June 11th of this year, and then captured again in early July to carry a geolocator. He nested with a female on top of the nest box that's attached to the back of the sign next to the observation tower at the lake. He sports a blue and green band on his right leg, hence his nickname reminiscent of the flowers of Wild Indigo growing in the fields adjacent to the swamp.

Meet Indigo! (Sorry, don't have a photo of this bands.)

Iris is the second female we tagged this spring. Named for her pretty blue and orange bands like the flowers of the Dwarf Crested Iris, she nested in the cypress knee at the Meeting Tree made famous by Don Wuori's award-winning photograph (scroll down the list of Audubon's 2015 photography award winners at this link). Though not banded until late in the season, we think that she may have attempted to nest three times (or maybe even four!) in the area around the Meeting Tree, something we've never documented in the swamp! Hopefully she'll be back to do it again in 2017.

Look for her near the boardwalk fork and Meeting Tree.
Iris's orange and blue bands.

 Like Aster, Lichen was one of the first birds banded back in 2014. He has come back to Beidler the last two years and always seems to hang out in the area where the boardwalk turns left to go to the lake. This year, he nested with Blueberry in a nest box in that area. He sports a green and gray band on his right leg - which reminded us of the beautiful, subtle colors of the lichens growing on the trees in the swamp. 
Look for Lichen (and his gray and green bands) at the turn to the lake.

Last but not least, our final Prothonotary Warbler with a geolocator is nicknamed "Trillium;" we think the white and yellow bands on his right leg resemble the flowers of the endangered Dwarf Trillium that grows in the dryer areas of the swamp. Trillium nested with a female in a cypress knee at #8 (this is at the snake interpretive sign for those that know their way around the boardwalk). 

Trillium's yellow and white bands.

In just a few short months, we hope all eight of these beautiful birds will be back nesting in the swamp. Once we get into 2017, we'll have another post with a call for volunteers, and some tips for finding Prothonotary Warblers when you visit Beidler Forest.

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