Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Banding Season Begins

On Sunday, April 5, 2009, four intrepid volunteers and I arrived at Metro Beach Metro Park, Macomb County, Michigan at 8 a.m. (7:00 E.S.T.) to clear net lanes and set up mist nets for the first official banding day this spring. Migration monitoring and stopover ecology of migrant birds has been studied here since 1989, and my own banding here has continued this research since 2004. There are no photo highlights in this installment, but hopefully there will be some as the season progresses.

After such a snowy winter, it was surprising that there wasn't more to clear away from the net lanes, and there was less water than usual (but plenty of mud) so we got the nets up and running quite early considering the late start. The first half of April is always iffy as far as the weather goes, but is the best chance for us to document the presence of certain wintering and early migrant species including American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Fox Sparrow. Unfortunately, we didn't catch any of these today, but we did capture other early migrants including Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, and Eastern Phoebe. As expected, Red-winged Blackbirds dominated the captures, as they probably will for another couple weeks. The total of 24 banded today (plus 5 recaptures) of 10 species is a slightly better than average start. A shepherd's hook with two thistle feeders was put out inside the Field Nets u-shaped setup, as was done last fall, to attract goldfinches and other sparrows to the area. This will be moved at the beginning of May to the Field Edge and hummingbird feeders will replace the thistle feeders, consistent with past practice.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, and Pine Siskin. A male and female Hairy Woodpecker caught our attention with their boisterous courtship activity. A few Tree Swallows were flying over the marsh, but have not yet shown an interest in the "Gilbert House," a nest box donated and put up by Neil Gilbert in 2007. There were still many ducks on Lake St. Clair at our meeting spot at the Day Sail parking area, but of course none were visible from the banding area.

Many thanks to the volunteer assistants who made banding today possible: John Bieganowski Chris Goulart, Renee Render, and Joan Tisdale.

Banding Data:

Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:08
Time Open (E.S.T.): 8:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 5.00
No. of Nets: 4.75-12.75
Net Hours: 55.50
Temperature (F): 36-48
Sky: 5o-100% cloud cover
Wind: ENE-ESE @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.04 - 29.94
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 24 (plus 5 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 10
Capture Rate: 59.5 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: John Bieganowski, Chris Goulart, Renee Render, Joan Tisdale

Eastern Phoebe - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 2
American Robin - 1
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 7 (plus 2 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 4

No comments: