Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Neck with bright blue skies in the morning, and the air full of singing birds at 4:45 am. We set mist nets early and did some bird banding during the morning and early afternoon. Though the boys didn’t join us until 6:15, we had a good crew roll about of bed to walk the nets and collect birds. We caught Robins, Red breasted and White breasted nuthatches, a Tufted titmouse, Chickadees, Purple and House finches, Goldfinches, Chipping sparrows and Blue jays. We were very excited to trap and net several Nuthatches that were already banded last year, and some banded two and three years ago. It’s always fun to see those returns and look back through the data to find their history. Each of the boys took a part in learning to hold the birds carefully, measure the wings, weigh and release them. Several boys took up the challenge of trying to figure out whether the female finch we caught was a house or purple finch. They poured through their Peterson guide and discussed the field marks to come up with a concensus. The fact that we caught both species of finches within a short time allowed them to see the fine differences. As we were measuring and banding we looked at the brood patches of the females, checked out where their ears are, found the preen glands, and examined the various patterns of molts that birds are going through. One Titmouse we caught was a young of this year, with light gray legs, beautiful new feathers and a yellow lining inside it’s beak instead of the black of an adult. Unfortunately that one slipped through my fingers as we were looking at differences between adults and young, before the band was placed! The boys all asked that the next bird walk also be a banding day, so if the weather cooperates we will band during our Sunday bird walk as well. A few more nets will be up by then, so perhaps we’ll get some warblers this time!