The Jekyll Island Banding Station

Yesterday was the last day of bird banding for the season at the Jekyll Island Banding Station, also known as JIBS, the oldest continuously-operated banding station in the state of Georgia.  I didn’t make it over yesterday – I had all the best intentions in the world, but two straight weeks without being able to sleep past seven caught up with me and I ended up staying in bed embarrassingly late – but last weekend I did pitch in and it was great fun.  I recorded data and collected fecal samples in little envelopes (yay science!) and even got to extract a couple birds from the nets all by myself, one of which was a Painted Bunting.  Okay, it wasn’t a pretty adult male but still, a Painted Bunting, sweet!

It’s funny how birds you could easily recognize if they were up in a tree and you were looking at them through binoculars can be confusing the first time you actually see them up close – all that extra detail to distract you.  (Palm Warblers and juvenile Common Yellowthroats, I’m looking at you.)  Still, we caught some pretty gorgeous birds.

(For you non-bird-nerds, those are a Common Yellowthroat, a White-eyed Vireo, and a Black-and-white Warbler.)

The highlight of the days I was there, however, was definitely getting a Common Ground-dove in one of the nets.  I didn’t even know we had them on the island; I’m from Ohio, after all, where we have one species and one species only of native dove, the ubiquitous Mourning Dove.  As we approached the net I stood there going “What is that?!” until it was finally out and I realized what I was seeing.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  Check out the bright rufous primary feathers!  Check out the pastel pink and blue of the head, and the color of that eye!  It was a real treat to see a bird like this up close.  These photos don’t even begin to it justice, either.  I mean, it had iridescent violet spots on its wings.  Crazy beautiful.  Next time I hear that low, repetitive “whooooo, whooooo, whooooo” drifting over the dunes at sunrise, I’ll know what it is and I’ll smile.

5 thoughts on “The Jekyll Island Banding Station”

  1. Whoa!
    These are all so gorgeous up close :)!
    And I am glad you gave me the names, since I am still at loss with many of them :)
    That dove is totally beautiful with those rufous feathers!

    (I have 3 species at my 11th floor bird bath now ;) The weird assortment of feral doves, sparrows that just look at the water, make a bunch of noise and fly off again and the first two Laughing doves, which just eyed the water and took off again too. Bet they will be back though :))

    1. My parents live in the Phoenix area and occasionally see Inca Doves around their neighborhood. My understanding is that the exotic Eurasian Collared-doves, which arrived in the area fairly recently, may be placing increased competitive pressure on the little Incas.

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