I am excited to get back out in the field to band our beautiful buntings! My colleague Brian and I are banding on Bald Head Island (NC) next week. PBOT maintains nearly 70 banding sites throughout North and South Carolina – seven of which are on Bald Head Island, an ideal oasis for Painted Buntings with its protected maritime forest, open marshes, and ample shrub-scrub thickets. This is the last banding session of this year’s breeding season (we visit each site three times each spring/summer), and we expect to see lots of fledglings and their mothers – but few males at this point in the year. In fact, several of our Florida friends were already spotting males as early as August 1st! The females and this last flush of fledglings will probably not leave the Carolinas until mid-September or October, but this is fair warning for those of you in Florida: your Painted Buntings are on their way! I will report a final tally of our work on Bald Head Island in the coming weeks, but during the previous session (in mid-July), Brian and our colleague Liani put bands on 53 birds (14 of which were “hatch-year” birds – hatched this spring or summer), and recaptured 44 birds we had banded in previous years. Brian was excited to recapture a very colorful female that we had banded as an adult in 2007, making her at least 6 years old… a senior citizen in the Painted Bunting world! From our experience, older females will often develop colorful plumage – usually a beautiful red hue on their back, flanks, or breast, as was the case with this old gal. I’ll let you know if we spot her again next week!