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16-31 May 2013

Installment #572---Visitor #msn spaces tracker

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LATE MAY 2013:

In my continuing effort to catch up on posting "This Week at Hilton Pond" AND to maintain continuity in reporting phenological happenings at Hilton Pond Center, I offer the following installment covering part of the latter half of May 2013; along with other topics, it documents one of the Center's most diverse bird banding periods in a long time. Abbreviated versions of most entries below appeared in some form on the Center's Facebook page while others--and several images--are brand new.

Happy Nature Watching!


All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center
Photo of Cerulean Warbler © Ernesto Carman Jr.

16 May

Ernesto Carman Jr., our long-time guide and colleague from Costa Rica, took a break from bird banding training at Hilton Pond Center and went to North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains for a couple of days to scout for Cerulean Warblers. (He found them, of course, as shown by his image of a singing male above.) 'Nesto and colleagues have discovered in his home country what may be a very important stop for Ceruleans as they make their way south each autumn to wintering grounds in northern South America and Peru. Populations of this species may be shrinking faster than for any other Neotropical migrant warbler, which makes it important to know as much as possible about Cerulean ecology on both ends of--and all along--the migration route. (I've never seen or caught one at Hilton Pond, but I can always hope!)

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

The Center's "bird of the day" today undoubtedly will be a different parulid--the female Blackpoll Warbler I caught this afternoon. This species is most common locally in spring; an amazing 93% of our 126 bandings since 1982 have occurred in April and May. This is likely because northbound migration among Blackpolls is overland through the Piedmont and Appalachians, while southbound they swing out over the Atlantic and Caribbean on their way to Latin America. As shown in the photo above of a female, one interesting field mark for Blackpoll Warblers is the bird's bright yellow feet. (Incidentally, male Blackpolls look a little like Carolina Chickadees.)

Birds banded today at the Center:

1 Pine Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Carolina Wren
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 American Redstarts
12 House Finches

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

17 May

The last of this spring's Tulip Tree flowers (above) are now wilting and falling at Hilton Pond Center. Because the tree's blossoms are typically high in the canopy, folks often don't realize Tulip Trees (AKA Yellow Poplars) serve as important nectar sources for early-arriving Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Most people also don't realize Tulip Trees are actually in the Magnolia Family (Magnoliaceae). This native species occurs across the eastern U.S., where it grows rapidly in areas with sufficient moisture. For more info, see my archived photo essay about Tulip Trees.

Birds banded today at the Center:

1 Mourning Dove

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

18 May

After three weeks of bird banding training here at Hilton Pond Center and in West Virginia, Ernesto Carman Jr. (above) departed South Carolina this morning to visit Hawk Mountain, Rhode Island, and points between before returning home to Costa Rica. 'Nesto got to work with nearly 200 individual birds--including several species he'd never handled--on his way to becoming a subpermittee under my master bird bander permit. His energy and enthusiasm on skillful observations were more than welcome, and I value his friendship immensely. I look forward to linking up with him again in Guatemala and Costa Rica this fall during our next Operation RubyThroat hummingbird expeditions. Safe travels, 'Nesto.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

20 May

Another spring hummingbird flower that is beginning to wane is Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata (above), a relative of the Trumpet Creeper that will begin to bloom within the next few weeks here at Hilton Pond Center. This easy-to-grow vine does best planted on a trellis in full to partial sun; it's a must-have plant for folks in the eastern U.S. wanting to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Make sure you buy the wild type, however, and not an ornamental hybrid; the latter often are nectar-deficient. For more info, see my archived photo essay about Crossvine.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center
Spring fallout photo above courtesy Madeline Sandefur

21 May

If you've never seen a migration "fallout"--when weather conditions at the peak of migration lead to an amazing abundance of birds--you might like to look at the images on the Texas Bird Images Web site. Skip over the videos at first and look at the still photos instead; what an incredible assemblage of hungry Neotropical migrants!

The image above of Indigo Buntings, Painted Buntings, and an apparent Black-headed Grosbeak was taken by Madeline Sandefur at South Padre Island Convention Center, Cameron County TX on 26 April 2013.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

23 May

We had a direct hit from lighting at about 1 a.m. this morning at Hilton Pond Center. Fortunately, my several layers of surge protectors held strong and the strike only fried one old USB hub and left the rest of our electronics untouched. (Knock on wood!) I'm certain the bolt hit one of the tall trees next to our old farmhouse but don't know which one yet. It will take a few days to scour the treetops for dead leaves that should indicate which tree served as a lighting rod.

Birds banded today at the Center:

1 Carolina Chickadee
1 House Finch

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

24 May

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the full moon in May is called "Full Flower Moon" because in most parts of North America plants are in bloom. My attached photo is the view this evening from Hilton Pond Center just after 8:30 p.m.

25 May

The digital thermometer at Hilton Pond Center got down to 47.1 degrees shortly after sunrise this morning--pretty chilly for late May and just a couple of degrees above our record low for the date.

28 May

Birds banded today at the Center:

2 House Finches

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

29 May

Yesterday afternoon I saw one young Red-shouldered Hawk in the nest high in a big Southern Red Oak tree in our front yard at Hilton Pond Center. As I reached for my camera, the bird stared back with the gray iris typical of an immature but jumped the nest before I could capture any images. Neither of the two nestlings was present at sunrise this morning--see empty nest photo above--so I'm guessing yesterday was fledge day.

Birds banded today at the Center:

3 House Finches

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

30 May

Today, after far too long a delay, I finally completed the summary report for my Operation RubyThroat hummingbird expedition to Crooked Tree with the "Belize Brata" in early March. No excuses except it was detailed, I was slow, and other tasks prevailed. The write-up is now posted as my "This Week at Hilton Pond" photo essay for 25 Feb-7 Mar 2013. There are LOTS of images and accounts of flora and fauna--including a discussion about the eye (above) of a male Black-headed Trogon--so you might want to look back to see how things went on the first of two 2013 expeditions to Belize.

All text, maps, charts & photos © Hilton Pond Center

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"This Week at Hilton Pond" is written and photographed by Bill Hilton Jr., executive director of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History

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16-31 May 2013

American Redstart--3
Pine Warbler--
Blackpoll Warbler--1
Carolina Chickadee-- 1
House Finch--18
Mourning Dove--1

* = New banded species for 2013

6 species
25 individuals

36 species

917 individuals

(since 28 June 1982, during which time 171 species have been observed on or over the property)
126 species
59,098 individuals

(with original banding date, sex, and current age):

House Finch (2)
12/20/11--after 2nd year male
12/15/12--after hatch year male

--Hilton Pond Center's Yearly Yard List 2013 of birds seen on or over the property stands at 69 species as of 31 May.

--Last week's photo essay was about nature happenings during early May 2013, including a visit by a Green Treefrog and our Atlanta observance of International Migratory Bird Day. The photo essay is archived and always available on Hilton Pond Center's Web site as Installment #571.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

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(spring female at right)

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research, conservation & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Dr. Bill Hilton Jr., aka "The Piedmont Naturalist," it is parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Web site contents--including text and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To request permission for use or for further assistance, please contact Webmaster.

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