Monday, June 8, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - June 5 & 6, 2009

The final week of spring banding in the first week of June always brings anticipation of some last, late migrants, as well as the possibility of capturing some of the first fledged young birds of the year. Both expectations were met on these last two days, and the unusually dry conditions resulting in almost no standing water made getting around much easier for a change. Midges, which usually hatch during the peak of warbler migration, finally hatched this week with clouds of them in the banding area but with few migrants to take advantage. Record numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds (166), Yellow Warblers (60), and Baltimore Orioles (14) were banded this spring, and independent fledgling American Robins and Common Grackle were captured this week. Details of the few (very few) late migrants banded and observed this week also follows in the detail below.

Banding highlights from Friday, June 5 included an impressive 24 Red-winged Blackbirds, many of them females. It gave us an opportunity to examine one character to age them (second-year vs. after second-year) which can often be seen in the field. Second-year (SY) female Red-winged Blackbirds typically have entirely or mostly white throats as in the top photo below, while after second-year (ASY) females are often washed with peach-yellow on the throat as in the bottom photo below. The amount of reddish in the shoulders of females varies quite a bit, and is not a particularly good indicator of age, though I do see more of it on ASY birds.

Red-winged Blackbird, second-year female

Red-winged Blackbird, after second-year female.

And always a highlight, two Baltimore Orioles, a male and female were banded today bringing the season total up to a record of 13 (one more was banded on June 6).

Baltimore Oriole, after second-year male.

The lone tardy spring migrant captured today was of a quite unexpected species, a Hermit Thrush. Before today, the last one banded was on May 10, which is about normal for the last one of these. Their migration typically peaks in this area the last week of April and the first week of May. This bird appeared to be in good health, and had some fat deposits, which would be expected on a migrant.

Hermit Thrush, after hatch-year

Additional banding highlights included a Hairy Woodpecker. Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Green Heron in trees over the Field Edge net, a calling Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, persistently singing Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos. A quick examination of the nest box near the Field Nets revealed four recently hatched young and an unhatched egg.

Banding highlights from Saturday, June 6 included another late thrush, this one a Swainson's, though this species has been banded here in early June in other years so is more expected.

Swainson's Thrush, after hatch-year

Additional banding highlights included a recently fledged Common Grackle, which was interesting in that it was still showing subtle signs of the fleshy gape corners typical of nestlings, as well as a dull yellow eye and almost no iridescence, different from what is expected in adults.

Common Grackle, hatch-year

Other banding highlights included two female Northern Flickers, including one that had clearly taken a dust bath just before getting caught in the nets. Blowing on the breast feathers to check her for a brood patch produced a big cloud of dust! Perhaps in a moment of silliness due to it being the last banding day of the spring, I nicknamed her "dusty". Five Empidonax flycatchers of the difficult "Traill's" species pair were banded today, and surpisingly all of them keyed out; 3 were Alder and 2 were Willow. It seems that the migration of these species may continue into early June most years. Also, an Empidonax flycatcher that was banded last week was recaptured today for the second time since it was banded. It has been singing fitz-bew out by the field nets and has been observed wearing a band, so he has now informally earned the nickname of Willie the Willow Flycatcher! Of course, I had to take a photo...

Willow Flycatcher, after hatch-year male

One of the last birds captured today was a female Carolina Wren, originally banded as an after hatch-year of unknown sex on 22 May 2006, recaptured again in fall 2006, again in spring and fall 2007 when she was first determined to be female based on the presence of a brood patch as she had today, and recaptured once more in fall of 2008. She was the only Carolina Wren captured this spring as the activity of this species in the park, based on singing birds, appears to be concentrated away from the banding area at the southwest corner of Point Rosa Marsh and the southern end of Cherry Lane just outside the park.

Carolina Wren, after 4th year female

Tessa Lau, our youngest volunteer, releases the female Carolina Wren as regular volunteer Joan Tisdale looks on.

Encouraging the young and educating the public are important objectives, additional to our research, which provides park staff and land managers with information about the natural treasures that use this park. Hopefully I, and the very helpful volunteers this spring, have accomplished some of that.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included flyover Cedar Waxwings and a single Wilson's Warbler which was quite late.

Many thanks to the volunteer assistants who made banding on these two days possible: John Bieganowski, David Furi, Dave Lancaster, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau, and Joan Tisdale.

Banding Data: ==========================================================
FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 4:56 a.m.
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.75
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.25
Net Hours: 96.313
Temperature (F): 43-73
Sky: 0% cloud cover
Wind: NW-SW @ 0-3-7 mph
Barometer: 30.03 - 29.98
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 46 (plus 25 recaptured and 6 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 79.9 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster

[Downy Woodpecker - 2 recaptured]
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
American Robin - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Yellow Warbler - 3 (plus 7 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 2
[Song Sparrow - 3 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 24 (plus 5 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 6 (plus 2 released unbanded)
[Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 recaptured]
Baltimore Oriole - 2

Sunrise (E.S.T.): 4:56 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: 96.188
Temperature (F): 52-64
Sky: 10-0% cloud cover
Wind: NE-E @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 30.03 - 30.09
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 39 (plus 12 recaptured)
No. of Species: 13
Capture Rate: 53.0 birds per 100 net hours
Assistants: David Furi, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau, Joan Tisdale

Northern Flicker - 2
Alder Flycatcher 3
Willow Flycatcher - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Carolina Wren - 1 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 1
American Robin - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow Warbler - 6
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 9 (plus 5 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 3
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)

1 comment:

Jenvieve said...

I'm in Virginia, and would like to band a wren. How can we get bands for this, and what is the protocol for doing so?