Sunday, August 16, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - August 13 & 15, 2009

Mid-August is a time of transition at Metro Beach, where many juvenile birds are still in the area and a few early fall migrants are beginning to move through. Both of these scenarios played out on the two days of banding this past week. A total of 124 birds was banded, plus 12 more recaptured and 4 released unbanded.
Juvenile sparrows can be a challenge. Both Song and Swamp Sparrows are common here, and both species were captured in good numbers on both days. The central breast spot so characteristic of adult Song Sparrows is absent in juveniles, while the streaks on the breast of juvenile Swamp Sparrows is quite different from the unstreaked breasts of adults. At times, wing formulas had to be determined to figure out which species was in-hand at the moment. Another useful characteristic is the bold, triangular whisker mark below a white malar of the Song Sparrow versus the narrow whisker mark below a buffy malar of the Swamp Sparrow. Photos of juveniles of both species are shown below.

Hatch-year Song Sparrow

Hatch-year Swamp Sparrow

This juvenile Common Grackle was molting into its first basic plumage which is represented by the patches of iridescent feathers among the juvenile grayish feathers, and of course this bird, a female determined by wing length, had not attained the bright yellow eye of an older bird. Also, you can see in the photo below the sharp protrusion from the roof of the mouth that may be used to crack nuts and acorns, and which is very painful if they manage to grab your finger with this!

Hatch-year female Common Grackle

It is shaping up to be a good fall season for banding Cedar Waxwings. A group of 10-30 is always present in the trees above the Field Nets and multiples were captured on both days this past week including both adults and juveniles. One of the adults had orange-tipped tail feathers instead of the typical yellow, which has been attributed to dietary causes, including their consumption of Autumn Olive berries during the growth of those feathers. There are quite a few Autumn Olive trees inside the Field Net setup.

After hatch-year female Cedar Waxwing with orange tail tips.

On Thursday, August 13, banding highlights included two Baltimore Orioles, several Empidonax flycatchers (3 Willows, 2 Leasts, and 2 "Traill's"), and the migrants of the day, 2 Northern Waterthrushes.

Hatch-year Northern Waterthrush

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (nested nearby?), an American Redstart, and a Canada Warbler.

On Saturday, August 15, the banding highlights included the first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher of the season.

After hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

But the most interesting bird of the week, perhaps of the month, was only the third Olive-sided Flycatcher ever banded at Metro Beach. The first was in spring 1992 and the second was in spring 1996, so this is also the first ever banded in fall, and a personal first as well. It was an adult bird based on the duller edgings on the wing coverts (hatch-year would be buffy) and also based on the streaking below shown well in the second photo (though the lens of the camera exaggerates the size of the bill). The wing length measurement determined the bird to be female.

After hatch-year female Olive-sided Flycatcher

After hatch-year female Olive-sided Flycatcher

Interesting birds observed but not banded included an Eastern Screech-Owl calling at about 11:00 a.m., and a Northern Waterthrush calling back in the swamp.

Thanks very much to the volunteer banding assistants who made banding on these two days possible: Dave Lancaster, Tracy McMullen, Joan Tisdale, and Roy and Myrna Weichner.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, August 13, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:37
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 5.50-13.75
Net Hours: 92.188
Temperature (F): 63-82
Cloud Cover: 0%
Wind: WNW @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 30.19-30.22
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 81 (plus 4 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 96.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: Dave Lancaster, Joan Tisdale

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 3
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 2
Least Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
American Robin - 7 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Gray Catbird - 5
Cedar Waxwing - 4
Yellow Warbler - 5
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 13 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 12 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 13 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 3
Baltimore Oriole - 2

SATURDAY, August 15, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:39
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:15
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.50-13.75
Net Hours: 89.875
Temperature (F): 68-84
Cloud Cover: 20%
Wind: S-SE @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 30.20-30.19
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 43 (plus 8 recaptured)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 56.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: Tracy McMullen, Roy Weichner, Myrna Weichner
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
[Hairy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
House Wren - 4
[American Robin - 1 recaptured]
Cedar Waxwing - 6
Yellow Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 12 (plus 4 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 7
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
[Baltimore Oriole - 1 recaptured]


Jochen said...


Wow, you caught the Lord of the Flies!!!

Allen Chartier said...

Yes, it was VERY cool.