Monday, May 4, 2009

Metro Beach Banding - April 30 & May 2, 2009

Conditions returned to more seasonal norms, with cooler temperatures and, yes, rain. On Thursday, April 30, we were only able to keep the nets open for 3 hours before the rain began. While the birds were kept safe by our early closure of nets, the intrepid volunteers (Chad and Cathy) got stuck taking down the station in a cold, light, continuous rain. So, again extra thanks to them for enduring the additional discomforts. On Saturday, May 2, it was sunny and nice, but with winds becoming a bit gusty later in the day. The thistle sock feeders have now been taken down from inside the Field Nets, and the hummingbird feeders are now up near the Field Edge net.

Banding highlights from Thursday, April 30, included not one but TWO White-eyed Vireos. One was a second-year and the other an after second-year. The photos below show the SY above, with a pearly-gray eye and the ASY below with a much whiter eye. Plumage characters (molt limits) also supported these age designations.

Although I've banded two White-eyed Vireos in the same spring season, I don't think I've ever had two on the same day (they were even on the same net run!).

Another highlight today was a Brown Thrasher, which is a species we don't catch every year.

Other firsts for the spring included a Black-and-white Warbler, an Ovenbird, and a Common Yellowthroat. And, I banded a species I've never banded in my life before today. Not because of any great rarity, but because of protocol. Ellie Cox's protocol established that any bird captured at the station would be banded, provided the banding permit allows (i.e., no ducks). As a result, I've banded a few European Starlings here which normally I might not. So, it was surprising to see the following two birds, male and female, in the Willow net closest to where we park the cars.

Yes, a male and female (with a big brood patch) House Sparrow finally hit the nets. Between 1989-2001 only 5 House Sparrows were banded, all in spring.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a pair of Blue-winged Teal in the swamp adjacent to the Upland Nets, a Sora calling in the marsh near the Field Nets, an Eastern Kingbird heard briefly, a Gray Catbird, Nashville Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Palm Warbler.

Banding highlights from Saturday, May 2, included the first Warbling Vireo of the spring. Not many of these are banded these days, possibly due to the decreased undergrowth in the banding area from extensive browsing by the White-tailed Deer.

Blue Jays were flying south, reverse migrating, in good numbers today (70+), and as sometimes happens during these movements, several were captured. The peak of migration seems to be about the only time when Blue Jays are captured here. Not a rare bird, but always beautiful and exciting to catch.

Other banding highlights included the first Gray Catbird of the spring, three Northern Waterthrushes on the first net run, and the first Lincoln's Sparrow of the spring.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Cooper's Hawk in display flight, a briefly-seen Broad-winged Hawk, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeders, a singing White-eyed Vireo near the cars (not banded), a briefly singing Blue-headed Vireo, the first Marsh Wren of the spring, and a Baltimore Oriole.
Many thanks to the volunteer assistants who made banding on these two days possible: Dave Furi, Chad Geurts, Cathy Thiesen, and Joan Tisdale. Thanks also to Dave Furi for allowing me to use his photo of Lincoln's Sparrow.
Banding Data:
FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:29 a.m.
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 10:00 (rain forced early closure)
Hours Open: 4.25
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.25
Net Hours: 48.438
Temperature (F): 52-54
Sky: 100% cloud cover
Wind: SE @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.20 - 30.09
Precipitation: Rain started at 10:00
No. Banded: 59 (plus 8 recaptured)
No. of Species: 18
Capture Rate: 138.3 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: Chad Geurts, Cathy Thiesen

Northern Flicker - 1
White-eyed Vireo - 2
Blue Jay - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 2
Brown Thrasher - 1
Yellow Warbler - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1 (plus recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 19
White-throated Sparrow - 4
Red-winged Blackbird - 7
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 6 (plus 4 recaptured)
House Sparrow - 2

Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:28 a.m.
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.25
Net Hours: 88.563
Temperature (F): 45-64
Sky: 10-50% cloud cover
Wind: Calm-SSE @ 0-5-15 mph
Barometer: 30.05 - 29.95
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 29 (plus 16 recaptured and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 56.5 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: Dave Furi, Joan Tisdale

Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Warbling Vireo - 1
Blue Jay - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Gray Catbird - 1
Yellow Warbler - 1 (plus 4 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Northern Waterthrush - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
[Song Sparrow - 7 recaptured]
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 12 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Northern Cardinal - 1
[Red-winged Blackbird - 1 released unbanded]
[Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 1


Jerry Jourdan said...

Brilliant shots, Allen! Were they digsicoped? :)

Allen Chartier said...

I finally figured out how to best use the macro setting on my Canon P&S :-)