Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Banding kickoff

After a long, hard winter in southeastern Michigan it was nice to get out once again and slog around in water instead of ice, and slippery mud instead of hard dirt! Of course, the scene below greeted us at the meeting spot on opening day on Sunday, April 6, lots of ice piled up on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair.
Icy shore of Lake St. Clair with rafts of ducks in distance

Once we got back into the banding area in the swamp woods and edge of Point Rosa marsh, there was little to clear in the net lanes, and the water and mud was as it has been the past several years, with no increase despite near-record snowfall over the winter. Perhaps the marsh is draining better now with the improvements implemented over the past couple of years? It didn't take too long to get the station up and running, allowing us to band for 4 hours and catch a good number of birds. The weather cooperated nicely, with temperatures ranging from 30-50, and on Wednesday, April 9, there were similar temperatures though the light north wind made it feel cooler. It was great hearing the first frogs of the season, though almost a month later than in may recent years!

Highlights of the 35 birds banded on Sunday, April 6 included several Golden-crowned Kinglets, with the first bird banded this season being the adult male below.
After hatch-year male Golden-crowned Kinglet

Starting the banding season this early is intended to document the very earliest spring migrants, including Golden-crowned Kinglets which in many years have already mostly departed by early April. It is also intended to catch some of the last lingering winter species, including American Tree Sparrow. Like the Golden-crowned Kinglets, many of these are often out of our area by early April with typically low numbers banded most springs. The ten American Tree Sparrows banded today represented a good, but not record number, and an additional bird already wearing a band had been banded on November 3 last fall, providing the first proof (though it was assumed) of late fall tree sparrows overwintering at this locale.
After hatch-year American Tree Sparrow

An early migrant, that overwinters in small numbers (perhaps none this winter?) is Fox Sparrow, and the 6 banded today was a very good total for a single day.
After hatch-year male Fox Sparrow

An interesting Black-capped Chickadee, banded last year as an after hatch-year female (showing a brood patch in late spring), was captured. She had three feathers on her crown that appeared brown. Might this be a sign of hybridization with Boreal Chickadee? Since Boreals don't breed within 200 miles of this site, more likely they are just some worn feathers.
Brown feathers on Black-capped Chickadee crown

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single flyover Double-crested Cormorant, a Northern Harrier flying in off Lake St. Clair and heading north, three Wilson's Snipe winnowing over the marsh most of the morning, two Eastern Phoebes in the banding area but avoiding the nets, several Tree Swallows including a couple birds checking out the nest box near the Field Nets, and a single singing Winter Wren. A few Brown Creepers were in the area but avoided capture.

Highlights of the 33 birds banded on Wednesday, April 9 included the first Eastern Phoebe of the season. This species has been banded later than the end of April only once in 10 years, so starting early int he spring is a good way to document their occurrence. This first bird was documented as a second-year, which is only occasionally possible, by the presence of two very worn outer greater secondary coverts contrasting (molt limit) with the rather fresh-looking and broadly whitish tipped inner coverts.
Second-year Eastern Phoebe

Second-year Eastern Phoebe. Arrows show older worn coverts.

The first Brown Creepers of the spring were banded today, the last of the early migrants that starting so early in the season is intended to document.
After hatch-year Brown Creeper

It is always nice to get a close look at this species amazing bill, and interesting eye shape that it shares with the wrens.
After hatch-year Brown Creeper

An interesting recapture was another American Tree Sparrow that was banded in a fall season, but this one was banded in fall 2012, documenting for the first time (but completely expected) winter site fidelity of this species in the park. 

Interesting birds observed but not banded included 4 flyover Double-crested Cormorants, two flyover Great Egrets, a calling Virginia Rail in the marsh near the Field Nets, a flyover Sandhill Crane, three Wilson's Snipe still winnowing over the marsh, two singing Winter Wrens, and a single singing Swamp Sparrow (many more to come!).

Banding Data
SUNDAY, April 6, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:06
Time Open (E.S.T.): 8:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 5.5
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 70.00
Temperature (F): 30-55
Cloud Cover: 10-20%
Wind: Calm-S-ESE @ 0-3-7 mph
Barometer: 29.57 - 29.50
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 35 (plus 7 recaptured)
No. of Species: 8
Capture Rate: 60.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.00 hours, 7:00-15:00): Jacob Charlebois (4.5 hrs), Annie Crary (1.5 hrs), John Hummel, Sarah Toner

Black-capped Chickadee -1 (plus 4 recaptured)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 8
American Robin - 4
American Tree Sparrow - 10 (plus 1 recaptured)
Fox Sparrow - 6
Song Sparrow - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)

WEDNESDAY, April 9, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:01
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F): 37-52
Cloud Cover: 30-10%
Wind: NW-S @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.25 - 29.35
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 33 (plus 20 recaptured)
No. of Species: 11
Capture Rate: 69.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Jacob Charlebois, Anne Ross (9 hrs), Edie Schmitz (9 hrs), Sarah Toner, Blanche Wicke (9 hrs).

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Eastern Phoebe - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Robin - 3
American Tree Sparrow - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Fox Sparrow - 2 (plus 4 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 4 (plus 6 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 7 (plus 6 recaptured)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winter is for writing reports...

The record setting winter in southeastern Michigan has kept me indoors more than normal. The up side is that I've had more time to get reports from last year's activities finished. These include the 2013 Hummingbird Banding Report (download a PDF here). Michigan had a record number of Rufous Hummingbirds last year, while Ohio and Indiana both had good numbers as well. Unlike most years, all of them departed by mid-December, apparently sensing what kind of winter was coming.

Adult male Rufous Hummingbird, banded in Westerville, OH

Also available is the Fall 2013 Banding Report from Lake St. Clair Metropark, Macomb Co., Michigan (download a PDF here).

Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

And, I have also updated the annual banding results from 2004-2013 (website link here).

Spring banding at Lake St. Clair Metropark is just around the corner, with opening day scheduled for the first weekend in April. Hopefully all our snow will be melted by then, and the banding area won't be flooded to badly.

I did manage to get out a little bit this winter, including a wonderful day at Port Huron on February 19 to observe the Long-tailed Duck spectacle that the near-record ice cover on the Great Lakes has produced there. A few photos from that day follow. Click on the images to view them full size.

 There were a few duck species present on the river, and I ran into a small group  of Canvasbacks very close to the shore, including this nice male.
Male Canvasback at Port Huron

 Slightly greater numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers were interspersed among the Long-tailed Duck hordes. This nice male was close to shore but was a challenge to photograph because it kept dozing off and had its eyes closed most of the time.
Male Red-breasted Merganser

I like the way the wake of this bird seems to reflect the shape and texture of its wispy crest. Artsy...
Male Red-breasted Merganser

My estimate was 25,000 Long-tailed Ducks in about a two-mile stretch of the St. Clair River; less than had been there a week ago, but more than I'd ever seen in one place before. The Coast Guard cutter flushed this group just as I was preparing to take video.
Long-tailed Ducks

There were many opportunities to photograph sitting birds nearby, but I was especially interested in getting some flight shots. This male cooperated nicely.
Male Long-tailed Duck

The landings were especially interesting, as they came in with feet swung forward and tail tips dragging the water.
Male Long-tailed Duck

At first, it looks like it might turn into a graceful landing...
Male Long-tailed Duck

But then they just PLOP breast first into the water, even bouncing once or twice like a skipping stone. Notice the out of focus male in the background of this image trying desperately to get out of the way of the "landing" bird!
Male Long-tailed Duck

A fun day capped off nicely by running into friends, Bob ("Dr. Bob") and Judy Setzer.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Metro Beach banding station - Fall 2013 summary

The 9th fall banding season conducted since 2005 is now history, and looking back it was a very good season in many ways. Several records were set, especially for wrens and sparrows, while warbler and thrush  numbers were below average. Banding was conducted on 26 days between August 4 and November 3, a very good effort considering that the number of days canceled and rescheduled due to rain and/or wind was the most we've ever experienced. This is largely due to the commitment and flexibility of the volunteers who made this all possible. Nets were open a total of 178.75 hours, for a record 2315.25 net hours. A record 2645 new birds were banded, of a record 81 species. The capture rate of 140.3 birds per 100 net hours was the second highest ever. A summary of birds banded is provided below.

RED-TAILED HAWK - 2 (first ever for the station)
SORA - 1 (first ever for the station)
Mourning Dove - 6 (record high)
Eastern Screech-Owl - 1 (2nd ever for the station)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 79
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 4
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 5
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 6
Alder Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 6
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Least Flycatcher - 2
Eastern Phoebe - 3
Great Crested Flycatcher - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 5
Warbling Vireo - 7
Philadelphia Vireo - 3
Red-eyed Vireo - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 10
Tufted Titmouse - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Brown Creeper - 16
Carolina Wren - 1
House Wren - 32 (record high)
Winter Wren - 36 (record high)
Marsh Wren - 17 (highest since 1997)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 130 (2nd highest ever)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 76
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Veery - 2 (low)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 8 (low)
Swainson's Thrush - 22 (lowest ever)
Hermit Thrush - 110 (tied record high)
Wood Thrush - 4 (record high)
American Robin - 19
Gray Catbird - 7
Brown Thrasher - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 15
Tennessee Warbler - 14 (low)
Orange-crowned Warbler - 4
Nashville Warbler - 40 (low)
Yellow Warbler - 35
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1 (low)
Magnolia Warbler - 14 (low)
Cape May Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 18 (very low)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 9
Palm Warbler - 14 (record high)
Bay-breasted Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 44
American Redstart - 6 (very low)
Ovenbird - 11 (low)
Northern Waterthrush - 3 (low)
Connecticut Warbler - 3 (tied record high)
Mourning Warbler - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 83
Wilson's Warbler - 5 (low)
Canada Warbler - 2 (low)
Yellow-breasted Chat (9th ever for the station)
Scarlet Tanager - 1 (5th ever for the station)
Northern Cardinal - 5 (low)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 2
Indigo Bunting - 3
Eastern Towhee - 1
American Tree Sparrow - 10
Field Sparrow - 10 (record high)
Savannah Sparrow - 2 (record high, first ever in fall)
Fox Sparrow - 5
Song Sparrow - 282 (record high)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 23
Swamp Sparrow - 72
White-throated Sparrow - 305 (2nd highest ever)
White-crowned Sparrow - 101 (record high)
Dark-eyed Junco - 11 (record high)
Red-winged Blackbird - 73 (record high for fall)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2
Baltimore Oriole - 1 (low)
House Finch - 26 (record high)
American Goldfinch - 749 (record high)

Many thanks to the following volunteers for making banding this fall possible: John Bieganowski, Rebecca Blundell, Mary Buchowski, Terri Chapdelaine, Brandon Charlebois, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois, Jean Gramlich, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Marie McGee, Renee Render, Tom Schlack, Harrison Smith, Edie Schmitz, Michelle Serreyn, Jeff Silence, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, and Sue Wright.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - October 20 - November 3, 2013

The final five banding days of the fall season continued to be productive, especially for sparrows. Banding was conducted on Sunday October 20, Thursday October 24, Sunday October 27, Wednesday October 30, and Sunday November 3. The weather was not our friend, as banding days had to be cancelled and rescheduled three times due to rain, and once due to high winds. On October 27, after those high winds, we came upon a fallen tree across the net lanes at the Swamp Nets. The tree was about 10 inches in diameter, but that didn't stop the excellent banding team from getting it cleared (thanks to Stevie and Bruce having saws in their car), and set up at the same time as normal.

The banding volunteers have been wonderful this fall, as always, with many of them expanding their skills. Banding could not have been done without their help. Thanks to Terri Chapdelaine, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Michelle Serreyn, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 48 birds banded on Sunday, October 20 included the first bird of the day, an Eastern Screech-Owl. In late October, we can get our nets open nearly two hours before the sun rises, allowing a brief period for audio luring for owls, which has been done for the last 5 years, but this is only the second owl captured at this station, the first being a screech-owl banded in 2011.
Hatch-year Eastern Screech-Owl

Hatch-year Eastern Screech-Owl

This late in the season, it is always nice to catch a warbler, and the only one today was this Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

It wasn't a very busy day, but as always it was an early day, so some of the volunteers took an opportunity to "recharge" their energy...

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a flyover Great Egret, a Cooper's Hawk, and a calling Eastern Phoebe.

Highlights of the 78 birds banded on Thursday, October 24 included the 32nd and 33rd Winter Wrens of the season. The previous record was 26.
Hatch-year Winter Wren

It was a record day for Field Sparrows, with three banded. This ties the previous record for an entire SEASON, and there were already 3 Field Sparrows banded this fall, so today doubled the previous record year.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

And the first Fox Sparrows of the season (2) were banded today, almost 3 weeks later than the first ones are expected.
Hatch-year Fox Sparrow

A total of SIX Dark-eyed Juncos today was only one short of the record for an entire fall season.
Hatch-year female Dark-eyed Junco

And American Goldfinches haven't made the highlights for a while. Today saw the 700th goldfinch of the season banded. The previous seasonal record was 515.
Hatch-year female American Goldfinch

Interesting birds observed but not banded included 3 flyover Double-crested Cormorants, 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Eastern Towhee that eluded capture all day despite being within a few yards of a net, and a flyover Lapland Longspur.

Highlights of the 71 birds banded on Sunday, October 27 included the last Yellow-rumped Warbler of the season.
Hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

The one day record for Field Sparrows didn't hold up for long, as FOUR were banded today, bringing the season's total to 10. The 10-year average per season is 1.1.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

The 100th White-crowned Sparrow of the fall was captured today. The previous season record was 44.
Hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Two more Dark-eyed Juncos brought the season total to 9, a record season (previous record was 7).
Hatch-year male Dark-eyed Junco

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a calling Eastern Phoebe, and in the early morning a single calling Great Horned Owl, and an Eastern Screech-Owl calling back to the owl tape (the Northern Saw-whet Owl tape actually got him calling).

Highlights of the 92 birds banded on Wednesday, October 30 included a Hairy Woodpecker, a species that is not banded here every year.
Hatch-year male Hairy Woodpecker

Hatch-year male Hairy Woodpecker

The 79th species of the fall season, tying the all-time record set last year, was a White-breasted Nuthatch, which does not find its way into the swamp woods of the banding area very often.
Hatch-year female White-breasted Nuthatch

Hatch-year female White-breasted Nuthatch

The 80th species of the season was the first Carolina Wren of the fall, another infrequently captured species.
Hatch-year Carolina Wren

Two warbler species were captured today. The Orange-crowned Warbler was a bit late, but the most expected species in late October.
Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

Much less expected, and quite late, was a Common Yellowthroat.
Hatch-year Common Yellowthroat

The four American Tree Sparrows captured today were the season's first, only a few days later than expected. They were also the 81st species for the fall, the only new species that was expected today.
Hatch-year American Tree Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a calling Eastern Screech-Owl, a late Marsh Wren, two flyover Eastern Bluebirds (rare in this park), two flyover American Pipits, an Eastern Towhee that again eluded capture, and a Field Sparrow.

Highlights of the 57 birds banded on Sunday, November 3 included the second Red-tailed Hawk ever banded at the station, and the second this fall season. Most of the same volunteers were working today as were helping on August 31, so once again Stevie helped with digging out the larger bands and pliers from my backpack, helping open the band, and release the bird.
Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Stevie Kuroda releasing Red-tailed Hawk

A Winter Wren banded today brought the record season up to 36, a single Hermit Thrush brought the season total to a record-tying 110, and the 9 Song Sparrows banded today brought the season total to a record of 282 (the previous record was 220 in 2008). The last bird of the fall season was the 11th Dark-eyed Junco of the fall, which is also a record for a single season.
Hatch-year female Dark-eyed Junco

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a small hawk migration that included 2 Northern Harriers, 13 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, and a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk. A Wilson's Snipe was flushed in the dark near the Field Nets, a Belted Kingfisher flew over, an Eastern Phoebe eluded capture calling from the opposite side of the road from most of the nets, and two Snow Buntings flew over.

Banding Data
SUNDAY, October 20, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:51
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 94.50
Temperature (F): 39.57
Cloud Cover: 50-90-20-80%
Wind: SW-S @ 3-5-12 mph
Barometer: 29.89 - 29.95
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 48 (plus 26 recaptured)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 78.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Terri Chapdelaine, Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Robin - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 9 (plus 5 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 4 (plus 8 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 12 (plus 6 recaptured)

THURSDAY, October 24, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:56
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F): 34-52
Cloud Cover: 40-60%
Wind: WSW @ 5-7-12 mph
Barometer: 29.99 -30.05
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 78 (plus 26 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 113.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Dave Lancaster, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Blanche Wicke.

Brown Creeper - 1
Winter Wren - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Hermit Thrush - 6
American Robin - 1
Field Sparrow - 3
Fox Sparrow - 2
Song Sparrow - 16 (plus 3 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 3
Swamp Sparrow - 3
White-throated Sparrow - 18 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 6
American Goldfinch - 15 (17 recaptured)

SUNDAY, October 27, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 7:00
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F): 36-50
Cloud Cover: 100-30-80%
Wind: SW-SSW @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.06 - 30.10
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 71 (plus 25 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 106.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Stevie Kuroda, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Michelle Serreyn (2.5 hrs), Bruce Watson

Mourning Dove - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
[Winter Wren - 1 recaptured]
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Hermit Thrush - 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Field Sparrow - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Fox Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 23 (plus 5 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 4
White-throated Sparrow - 12 (plus 4 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 19 (plus 10 recaptured)

WEDNESDAY, October 30, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 7:03
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 98.00
Temperature (F): 36-61
Cloud Cover: 0-30%
Wind: NE-SE @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.23 -30.17
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 92 (plus 14 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 19
Capture Rate: 109.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz (7.5 hrs), Blanche Wicke (7.5 hrs).

Hairy Woodpecker - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Brown Creeper - 1
Carolina Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 30 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 4
Hermit Thrush - 5
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
American Tree Sparrow - 4
Fox Sparrow - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 24 (plus 3 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Dark-eyed Junco - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 9 (plus 6 recaptured)

SUNDAY, November 3, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 7:08
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:30
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 88.75
Temperature (F): 37-46
Cloud Cover: VAR%
Wind: NW-SE @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.29 -30.43
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 57 (plus 10 recaptured,)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 75.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.5 hours, 6:00-14:30): Stevie Kuroda, Steve Mangas, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke.

[Mourning Dove - 1 recaptured]
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 4
Winter Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 16 (plus 1 recaptured)
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Tree Sparrow - 6
[Fox Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 14 (plus 3 recaptured)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - October 3-17, 2013

First, I'd like to announce that the detailed report for the spring 2013 banding season is now finished and can be downloaded as a PDF file by going to the Metro Beach Banding website here.

Banding was conducted on four days during this period: Thursday October 3, Thursday October 10, Saturday October 12, and Thursday October 17. A fifth day was attempted on Sunday, October 6, but after getting only 5 nets open it started to rain, and didn't show signs of letting up, so we took it all back down. Thanks to Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke for putting in 3 hours that day, only to be rained out. Clearly the days with warblers dominating the captures is behind us, with many species finishing up the season well below their 10-year averages, some only half the average. Sparrows arrived in the first half of October in abundance, with the result that October 3 was an all-time record day with 226 new birds banded (record was 224), followed by another record on October 10 with 286, then another fantastic day on October 12 with 243. Before this year, there were only four days with more than 200 birds banded, never more than one in a season. During surveys on October 16 there were still lots of birds in the banding area, but on October 17 there were nowhere near as many, with the result that numbers returned to more modest levels with 54 banded that day.

Banding could not have been done on these days without the help of very capable volunteers, including: John Bieganowski, Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Blanche Wicke, and Sue Wright. It was also nice to see semi-regular annual visitors from California, George and Heather, who visited briefly on October 10, and were pressed into service for a couple hours on October 12.

Highlights of the 226 birds banded on Thursday, October 3 included the first two Blue-headed Vireos of the season.
Hatch-year Blue-headed Vireo

Certainly not the first of the season, but the 15 Winter Wrens today was more than double the previous record for a single day (7 on 9 Oct 2008). In fact, the 7 Winter Wrens in the Upland Nets on just the first net check equaled that record!
Hatch-year Winter Wren

One of the Winter Wrens had a few white feathers, a couple on the upper wing coverts of the left wing, a couple on the crown, and the outermost (10th) primary on the left wing. This is the first Winter Wren I've captured with white feathers.
Hatch-year Winter Wren with white feathers

Three Brown Thrashers were encountered in one of the Field Nets, which would have been a record for a single season (!), but unfortunately one of them got away before we could get to it. There were at least two others near the cars while we had these two "in the bag". Eye color is a good indication of age in Brown Thrashers, with duller yellow eyes indicating hatch-year.
Hatch-year Brown Thrasher

 One of the photos shows the nictitating membrane, present in all birds, which is mostly clear and semi-transparent in most species.
Hatch-year Brown Thrasher showing nictitating membrane

It was a good day for both species of kinglet, and 4 species of thrush were captured today including a single Gray-cheeked, several Swainson's, and a somewhat late Wood Thrush. Among the 26 warblers of 9 species banded today included a single Orange-crowned, and several Black-throated Blues, which have been scarce this fall. One of the females had absolutely NO white at the base of the primaries. This is one of my favorite "quiz birds", as it highlights the importance of using more than one field mark to identify birds. The number of times I've included this topic in the banding highlights (probably every year) indicates that this variation is not particularly rare.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

The photo below shows a more typical pattern. Note that a larger amount of white does not necessarily indicate an older (after hatch-year) bird in the field.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

A female Wilson's Warbler was the latest ever banded here in the fall.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Warbler

It was also a good day for sparrows, with the first Dark-eyed Junco of the season among the 5 species banded.
Hatch-year female Dark-eyed Junco

Somewhat late was an Indigo Bunting, showing no blue anywhere so it was determined to be a hatch-year female.
Hatch-year female Indigo Bunting

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Marsh Wren calling near the Field Nets, an American Redstart, and a somewhat late Rose-breasted Grosbeak that was calling next to the cars most of the morning.

Highlights of the 286 birds banded on Thursday, October 10 included an amazing SIX House Wrens which was one more than the previous record, and quite a few for so late in the season. A surprise was a record late date for banded Wood Thrush, amazingly represented by TWO individuals.
Hatch-year Wood Thrush

Perhaps the biggest surprise was a Yellow-breasted Chat, only the 3rd since 2004, the 9th since 1989, and the latest ever here.The gray, not black lores indicated it was a female.
Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Sparrows were the dominant group filling the nets on this record day, with the first Field Sparrow of the season. Typically, less than one per season is banded here.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

The 107 White-throated Sparrows banded today beat the previous one-day record by 11. A member of this species was probably the 2000th bird of the season banded. Only two other seasons have exceeded this threshhold.
Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Black-throated Blue Warbler, and an Eastern Towhee calling next to the cars all day long, but not going into the nearby Willow Net.

Highlights of the 243 birds banded on Saturday, October 12 included two more Blue-headed Vireos, always a nice species to include in the photo highlights.
Hatch-year Blue-headed Vireo

All three warblers captured today should have made the photo highlights, but on busy days the time available for photos is limited. Single individuals of Orange-crowned Warbler, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat were banded today. Surprisingly, this was not a record late date for the Ovenbird nor the yellowthroat. Once again, sparrows were the lead story today. While there were good numbers of White-throated again (71), the 42 Song Sparrows was a record day. The previous record was 35, on two dates; 22 October 1989, and 29 October 2010.
After hatch-year Song Sparrow

Another record was set for White-crowned Sparrow. Prior to this year the record was 12 on 7 October 2007. On 29 September this fall, 22 were banded, but 23 were banded on 10 October, and today, 26.
Hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a couple Chimney Swifts and Tree Swallows, and two Eastern Towhees near the cars all day, but yet again avoiding capture.

Highlights of the 54 bird banded on Thursday, October 17 included a single House Wren, which was late but not record late.
Hatch-year House Wren

Setting a record late date by one day, were the two Marsh Wrens today. This also brought the season's total to 17, which has far surpassed the 7 in 2008 which was the greatest number since 2004. The record for a single season is 26 from 1997, but 24 were banded in 1993 and 22 in 1994. Cattails were more prevalent in the banding area than they are currently.
Hatch-year Marsh Wren

Hatch-year Marsh Wren

This late in the season, it is always a delight to encounter something bright yellow caught in the nets, which indicates a warbler. Today's single warbler was a Nashville.
Hatch-year male Nashville Warbler

Sparrows again dominated the captures, with the 3rd Field Sparrow of the season setting a record.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

And finally, an Eastern Towhee found its way into the Field Nets, far from the cars. Less than one of these is banded each season.
Hatch-year female Eastern Towhee

Interesting species observed but not banded included at least one American Woodcock. One flew off the roadside in the dark, and at dawn one (the same one?) was flushed out of the road. On slower days, that is when less then 200 birds are captured, the bander and volunteers have a little time between net checks to look at birds.
Allen Chartier, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, and Edie Schmitz

What we're all looking at, above, is an Eastern Screech-Owl that Blanche found while looking at a flock of kinglets and chickadees that were obviously agitated.
Red morph Eastern Screech-Owl

 This was one of two screech-owls that we detected, one was heard before sunrise a fair distance from this one. In addition there were clearly two adult and one immature Great Horned Owls, all calling before dawn.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 3, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:32
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.5
No. of Nets: 9.0-14.0
Net Hours: 102.50
Temperature (F): 62-73
Cloud Cover: 100--60-90%
Wind: SE-SW @ 5-0-7 mph
Barometer: 30.10 - 30.03
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 226 (plus 15 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 31
Capture Rate: 239.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.50 hours, 5:00-15:30): John Bieganowski (9.0 hrs), Dave Lancaster (9.0 hrs), Tom Schlack (9.5 hrs), Mary Mangas (6.0 hrs), Steve Mangas, Blanche Wicke (9.0 hrs), Sue Wright.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
Brown Creeper - 3
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 15 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 45
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 15
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 7
Hermit Thrush - 25 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wood Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Brown Thrasher - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 6
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 7
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Palm Warbler -3
Ovenbird - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Wilson's Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 5
White-throated Sparrow - 45 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 9
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
American Goldfinch - 9 (plus 8 recaptured)

THURSDAY, October 10, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:40
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 98.00
Temperature (F): 48-72
Cloud Cover: 0%
Wind: NW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.27 - 30.24
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 286 (plus 26 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 320.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.5 hours, 5:00-16:30): John Bieganowski (9.5 hrs), Dave Lancaster (9.5 miles), Tom Schlack, Blanche Wicke (9.5 hrs).

Mourning Dove - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 3
House Wren - 6
Winter Wren - 5
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 14
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 18
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Hermit Thrush - 38 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wood Thrush - 2
Gray Catbird - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Palm Warbler - 1
[Ovenbird - 1 recaptured]
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 24 (plus 8 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 5
Swamp Sparrow - 13
White-throated Sparrow - 107 (plus 3 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 23
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 14 (plus 8 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, October 12, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:42
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 98.00
Temperature (F): 50-72
Cloud Cover: 0-40%
Wind: Calm-ENE @ 0-5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.16 - 30.15
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 243 (plus 34 recaptured, 7 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 23
Capture Rate: 289.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 5:00-15:30): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke (9.5 hrs).

[Mourning Dove - 1 recaptured]
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blue-headed Vireo - 2
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 3
Marsh Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 17 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 29 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Hermit Thrush - 21 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 42 (plus 6 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 7
White-throated Sparrow - 71 (plus 7 recaptured, 3 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 26 (plus 5 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 15 (plus 8 recaptured)

THURSDAY, October 17, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:48
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:45 (rain forced early close)
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 9.0-14.0
Net Hours: 81.50
Temperature (F): 54-57
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SE-SSW @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.93 - 29.90
Precipitation: Lt. Rain at close (12:00+)
No. Banded: 54 (plus 20 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 17
Capture Rate: 93.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.0 hours, 5:00-13:00): Stevie Kuroda, Tom Schlack (5.0 hrs), Edie Schmitz, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke.

Mourning Dove - 1 (plus 1 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 5
Hermit Thrush -  2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Nashville Warbler - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 16
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 9 (plus 3 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 5 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 2 (plus 12 recaptured)