Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - May 23 & 25, 2009

After an absence of thirteen days during the peak of spring migration, I was finally able to return to banding at Metro Beach thanks to the help of several volunteers. As expected, the majority of sparrows have moved through while thrushes and Empidonax flycatchers have increased somewhat. The selection of warblers was distinctly comprised of the later migrants. On a more mundane level, a new spring season record for Red-winged Blackbirds was broken on May 23 (old record was 92 from spring 2008). Typically, we catch a lot of male Red-wings in April and early May while we catch mainly females in late May into early June. We are starting to catch more females as expected, but are continuing to catch males and the season total is now in excess of 120. As the spring progresses, we are also recapturing more of the local breeding species, and so far there have been 16 Yellow Warblers banded in previous years (back to 2005), several Common Yellowthroats (back to 2006), 12 Black-capped Chickadees (back to 2005), more than a dozen American Goldfinches (back to 2006), and 4 Baltimore Orioles (back to 2004). Over these two days of banding, 131 birds were banded, with the greatest number on May 23 and the best diversity (including a couple surprises) on May 25.

Banding highlights from Saturday, May 23 included a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an Alder Flycatcher, a Least Flycatcher, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow, a Gray-cheeked Thrush, and the first American Redstarts, Mourning and Wilson's Warblers of the spring.

Mourning Warbler

Wilson's Warbler
Additional banding highlights included a Gray-cheeked Thrush, a Lincoln's Sparrow, and SIX Baltimore Orioles. Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Sora calling in the marsh, singing Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied and Willow Flycatchers, a late Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a few additional warblers including single Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll as well as multiple singing Canada Warblers.

Banding highlights from Monday, May 25 included three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a Hairy Woodpecker, and several Empidonax flycatchers banded as "Traill's" (Willow or Alder) including one that keyed out to Alder. As many of you know, these flycatchers are very challenging, and among my favorites to band.

"Traill's" Flycatcher
Other banding highlights included a Tree Swallow, a late-ish Veery, three more Baltimore Orioles, SIX Wilson's Warblers, and the first Canada Warbler of the spring.

Canada Warbler
Later in the day, two surprises were captured. First was a Savannah Sparrow, a species quite unexpected in a marsh adjacent to a swamp, and only the second one banded here since 2004 and only the third ever (the first was in spring 1993). This is quite a beautiful sparrow up close.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

The second surprise was an Eastern Kingbird, only the second ever banded here (the first was in spring 1999).

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Personally, this is also only the third time I've ever banded this species; the first time was at Holiday Beach, Ontario, many years ago when I banded three in 1998 and three more in 1999. All these, however, were hatch-year birds. Today's Eastern Kingbird was an after hatch-year male and as a result showed plumage characters I'd not seen before including the hidden red crown patch typical of adults.

Eastern Kingbird crown patch
Another character that adult Eastern Kingbirds show is notching on the outer two primaries. Since this notching measured more than 8 mm, it was possible to sex this bird as male.

Eastern Kingbird, male
Interesting birds observed but not banded included three flyover Turkey Vultures, a Sora calling in the marsh, a briefly calling Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a continuing and late Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (probably nesting by now), as well as single Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers, and up to three Mourning Warblers singing all around us most of the morning.

Many thanks to the volunteer assistants who made banding on these two days possible: Elaine Attridge, Andrea Charlebois, Chris Charlebois, Michael Charlebois, David Furi, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau, and Jennifer Philpot-Munson.
Banding Data:
SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:04 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): 50-73
Sky: 10-80% cloud cover
Wind: NE-E @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 30.21 - 30.14
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 78 (plus 23 recaptured and 6 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 120.8 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: David Furi, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 1
[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
[Northern Flicker - 1 released unbanded]
Alder Flycatcher - 1
Least Flycatcher - 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 4
American Robin - 4 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 6
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 8 (plus 3 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Mourning Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 5 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
[Swamp Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 26 (plus 2 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 4 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Baltimore Oriole - 6
American Goldfinch - 1 (plus 4 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
MONDAY, MAY 25, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:02 a.m.
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.25
Net Hours: 93.00
Temperature (F): 52-68
Sky: 70-20% cloud cover
Wind: NNE-E @ 3-5-10 mph
Barometer: 30.21 - 30.28
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 53 (plus 24 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 24
Capture Rate: 84.9 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: Elaine Attridge, Andrea Charlebois, Chris Charlebois, Mike Charlebois, Jennifer Philpot-Munson

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 3
Downy Woodpecker - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 3
Tree Swallow - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
[House Wren - 2 recaptured]
Veery - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 4
American Robin - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
Yellow Warbler - 2 (plus 5 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
[Common Yellowthroat - 3 recaptured]
Wilson's Warbler - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Canada Warbler - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 11 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Baltimore Oriole - 3 (plus 3 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)


Charles Owens Gallery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Owens Gallery said...

Thanks for sharing these photos Alan. When the warblers are in your hands it really shows just how small they really are.

John said...

I just discovered my first Wilson's Warbler yesterday (in Los Angeles). I apologize for being stupid, but how you get the birds (such as the Wilson's Warbler) to perch on your hand to be able to photograph them?