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.