The 2019 fall banding season is underway! Thursday and Friday were our first two days back in the Banding Lab. Through hard work (and lots of help) we trimmed the summer growth along the net lanes and set up all 50 nets by Friday afternoon. While we were focused on taking advantage of the 70-degree weather and mostly cloudy skies to set up the nets, we were still able to band 36 new birds and 6 recaptures. Hatch-year Gray Catbirds, still in their fluffy juvenal plumage, were our most common capture this week. We also caught two Yellow Warblers, an early migrant, and two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds along with a Red-eyed Vireo and Common Yellowthroat for a total of nine species to start our season.
The verdant paths around the property contained a few surprises as we were trimming our way around. Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is scattered in small pockets throughout the undergrowth but stands out due to its waxy sheen and white color, as it contains no chlorophyll. It doesn’t generate energy from photosynthesis and is parasitic, sapping nutrients from tree roots through an intermediary source: mycorrhizal fungi.