Monday, October 26, 2009

Belle Isle tree trip

Belle Isle is one of my favorite places to go birding, and I've promoted the value of this place in my book, A Birder's Guide to Michigan (now out of print), as well as in a recent Birders World article, Hotspots Near You, and have led many birding field trips for local Audubon chapters and conducted bird surveys here in 2005. But there's so much more to Belle Isle, and this blog entry will turn away from the birds for a moment to focus on some of the interesting plant life here, particularly the trees.

On Sunday, October 25, a field trip was scheduled for 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. by the Huron Valley Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club, and co-sponsored by the Essex County Field Naturalists' Club, the Lakeplain Cluster of the Stewardship Network, and the Friends of Belle Isle (and possibly others). The purpose was to see some of the rare trees and shrubs on the island, and talk about ways to improve the habitat in broad ecological terms by removing invasives and enhancing the area's hydrology, and improving (or maintaining) the value to breeding and migratory birds. At least 50 people showed up (perhaps more than 60), much to our surprise!

The main leader of the trip (though several of us co-led) was Suzan Campbell, currently with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), and formerly a naturalist at Belle Isle. After a brief orientation at the Nature Center, we stepped outside to have a look at one of the rare trees on Belle Isle, the Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda). This is a species of the Atlantic coastal plain from Virginia to Florida, and in the Mississippi River valley. It is found only in a few small areas in southern Michigan, which is at the northernmost point of its world range, and it is a Threatened species in the state. Sadly, it is also being attacked by the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis).

In the photo below, Suzan explains to the group (only a few of which are in the photo) the botanical history of the Pumpkin Ash and shows the identification features on a sapling that was planted here maybe 7-8 years ago.

Ash trees have compound leaves, and identification of the various species can be tricky. Pumpkin Ash can be identified by the larger spaces between the pairs of leaflets, giving the tree a more airy appearance than other ashes. This is seen well in the photo below.

We then drove around to the other end of the ~350 acre patch of old-growth swamp woods to a trail where we spent the rest of the afternoon. One of the first patches of Pumpkin Ash we came to was, sadly, a small grove that had all been recently killed by Emerald Ash Borers.

Upon closer inspection we were able to see the numerous, characteristically D-shaped exit holes where the adults emerged after feeding on the tree as larvae.

But we did see some Pumpkin Ashes that were still alive, or struggling to survive. The most interesting was the State Champion (largest in Michigan) individual that Nancy is touching below.

I married a tree-hugger, and I'm proud of her! She would have hugged this one except that there were a couple of Poison Ivy vines climbing the trunk.

The dark bunches in the photo below are the dried flowers from earlier in the year. This champion individual is a male tree. Some trees have separate male and female individuals, making cross-pollination a bit more challenging. Also, there seems to be a shortage of female Pumpkin Ash trees on Belle Isle; yet one more hurdle to their survival in Michigan.

Another ash, though not actually in the ash family, was the Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), which had beautiful yellow leaves hiding an abundance of sharp thorns.

We also enjoyed the fall color along the walk, and there were certainly several other species of oak, as well as the maples below.

Even the common Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) in the photo below provided nice color, as well as an educational opportunity for many of the trip participants!

Unfortunately there were numerous invasive species seen, including at least two species of Asian honeysuckle (Lonicera maacki, Lonicera tatarica). One of the worst invasives in the state, though not as much a problem on Belle Isle, is the Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), which can get quite shrubby but here seems to stay mostly low and herbaceous.

A species I was hoping to see, as it was a "lifer" plant, was the Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpurea), also called Burning-bush in some references; a rare plant in Michigan and one of only two native species in this genus (others are escaped from cultivation). None of them had any leaves on them this time of year, but I doubt I'd be able to recognize it by those anyway as the leaves (a few of which were on the ground) looked a lot like ash tree leaves! Luckily, Suzan and some of the other trip leaders had gone around and put signs on them!

But once we got closer we saw the odd berries that are very distinctive, and beautiful.

Another rare tree in Michigan, found at Belle Isle, is the Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii). This oak is fairly common in the south, from Texas to Florida north to Missouri and Indiana.

It grows on the edges of swamps, and at Belle Isle it grows on hummocks in the swamp woods and is at the northernmost end of its world range. Identifying any tree can be tricky, and oaks are no different. The shape of the leaves put in field guides are often an "average", and on an actual tree the leaves at the bottom are often different from those at the top. In the two photos below, leaves from the bottom and near the top of the same Shumard Oak show these differences.

From one of the bridges over the stream and against the blue sky, we could see a very tall, stately Shumard Oak turning orange with the season. Suzan told us that it was the largest Shumard Oak on Belle Isle, and apparently a state champion as well.

So, of course we had to walk over to get close to, and touch this impressive tree. Many of the trees in this swamp woods on Belle Isle develop "buttressed" roots, which is a broadening of the trunk which allows them to gain a more firm footing in the wetlands (and clay soil here), much like trees in southern swamps do.

All of these trees can, of course, also be identified by their bark patterns by experts.

But we'll have to leave that lesson for another field trip, on another day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - October 22, 2009

Once again a rainy week and a shortage of volunteers conspired to limit banding to one day this week instead of the two days in the protocol. In the 12 years from 1989-2000 banding was conducted twice a week, on weekends, during spring and fall migration. My current banding efforts, begun in 2004, attempts to use consistent methods as much as possible so that at the conclusion of ten years of banding (in 2014) statistically sound comparisons can be made.

This day was similar, weather-wise, to two weeks ago when a cold front passed through the area on the day of banding. The results were similar, with not many birds banded. An effort was made to audio-lure for owls (Northern Saw-whet and Eastern Screech-Owls) for about an hour before first light in the Upland Nets area, but without success.

Banding highlights for Thursday, October 22 included 7 more American Robins, adding to this fall's record numbers.

Hatch-year male American Robin

The real highlight of the day was the FIVE species of warbler! Two species are expected this late, two are generally mostly gone by now, and one was unexpected. The most expected warbler species, Orange-crowned, was not banded today!

A Nashville Warbler was one of the species that can occur this late into October with some regularity, so it wasn't too surprising that we caught one.

Hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler is the other species that occurs well into October, though this fall not many have been banded. The one captured today had a single white feather in the rear crown, visible in the photo below.

Hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

Blackpoll Warblers can also occur into mid-October with some regularity, but are starting to be fairly scarce by this date, so this one was a pleasant surprise.

Hatch-year male Blackpoll Warbler

Another late warbler is the Black-throated Blue Warbler, which like the Blackpoll can occur into late October in small numbers. The female banded today had a very small white spot at the base of the primaries, which could easily be overlooked in the field.

Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Some females can completely lack this field mark, which can cause confusion for some birders who might be relying on a single field mark to identify the species. But even lacking this distinctive mark, the female Black-throated Blue Warbler can be fairly easily identified by the pattern on her head. The close-up below shows that she has a distinctive dark cheek and especially dark in front of the eye, along with a short white "eyebrow" and a small white eye arc below the eye.

Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

This pattern is most similar to the Yellow-rumped Warbler (compare with photo above), but the female Black-throated Blue is not streaked, shows no wing bars, and does not have a yellow rump. Also, if one looks closely, often a blue tinge can be detected on the wings and tail.

The biggest surprise of the day was a very late Ovenbird. Normally, this species is gone from southern Michigan by the first few days of October except for an occasional individal that has lingered in downtown Detroit into December!

Hatch-year female Ovenbird

If she looks fat in this photo, that's because she was! Very well prepared to continue her migration.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included an Eastern Screech-Owl that responded to the audio-lure when I was fiddling with it at lunch time. This bird must have been within 50-feet of us but it quickly stopped calling and we never laid eyes on it. Perhaps we'll catch it next week. A juvenile Great Horned Owl has been begging in the area north of where we park for more than a month now, and began its complaining just about first light, letting up before sunrise. A Chimney Swift flying over was a bit unexpected, and a little late. Two Eastern Phoebes, also drawn in by the owl audio-lure, were seen near the cars. A White-breasted Nuthatch was a little unusual as the normally stay near the nature center and don't visit the swamp woods often. At least 4 Winter Wrens were heard calling in the banding area but none were captured. An Orange-crowned Warbler was present briefly near the cars but avoided capture. And one species that should have been captured by now, but which has not really been noticed in the banding area yet this fall is Fox Sparrow. We only have one more week to catch one, which so far we've done annually.

An interesting insect flew out from beneath the feathers of one of the Hermit Thrushes banded today. It is a Hippoboscid fly, called "flat flies" by banders because they are very flattened which allows them to move around beneath the feathers of birds. They feed on the blood of birds and have not been known to bite humans. They are slightly smaller than a common house fly.

Hippoboscid Fly (Hippoboscidae)

Many thanks to John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack for once again volunteering to help band this week.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 22, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:53
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.00-13.25
Net Hours: 91.313
Temperature (F): 57-59
Cloud Cover: 100-50-100%
Wind: SSW @ 7-10 mph to NW @ 12-15 just before close
Barometer: 29.97-30.05
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 34 (plus 9 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 48.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack

Downy Woodpecker - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 6 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Robin - 7 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Nashville Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Song Sparrow - 4 (plus 3 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 3
American Goldfinch - 2

Friday, October 16, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - October 14, 2009

More rain than normal, along with temperatures at least 10-degrees below normal, as well as a shortage of volunteers again only allowed for one day of banding this week instead of our standard two days.

This report does not include any firsts for the season, as has been the case with several recent reports. But two record numbers were definitely the highlight of the day, limiting the photo highlights in this blog posting as there simply was almost no time to take photos. The 202 birds banded was a single day record (previous record was 181 on October 7, 1990), and the 72 Hermit Thrushes was also a single day record (previous record was 52 on October 9, 2005). One bird was banded about every minute and a half, for 6 hours, nonstop.

Hatch-year Hermit Thrush

The majority of the Hermit Thrushes banded today were hatch-year birds as in the photo above. Many (but not all) showed the buffy shaft streaks and spots on their greater secondary coverts often shown by hatch-years, which is something that can be seen in the field.

Other highlights included two Eastern Phoebes, good numbers of both species of kinglet, two Swainson's Thrushes, a somewhat late Gray Catbird, singles of Winter Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Lincoln's Sparrow. A touch of winter, other than the weather, was added by the capture of three Dark-eyed Juncos.

Hatch-year male Dark-eyed Junco

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calling briefly near the banding area, and a juvenile Great Horned Owl begging, as has been the case for about a month, and a couple Purple Finches near the Field Nets.

I want to thank John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack for putting in such a great effort on this record day. It definitely could not have happened without them!

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, October 14, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:43
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 4.75-13.25
Net Hours: 91.688
Temperature (F): 39-46
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: E-NE @ 5-7 (15) mph
Barometer: 30.40-30.28
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 202 (plus 11 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 21
Capture Rate: 234.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 4
Winter Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 23
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 34 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Hermit Thrush - 72
American Robin - 7 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Gray Catbird - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Song Sparrow - 9 (plus 5 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 12 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 10
White-crowned Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 3
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 14 (plus 1 recaptured)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - October 4 & 8, 2009

After White-tailed Deer put holes in THREE nets last week, I had my work cut out for me to reconfigure what I had on-hand to keep the setup as consistent as possible for the remainder of the fall banding season. Not only is it destructive and expensive to have deer destroy nets (and kill birds), but constantly having to change the net configuration reduces the statistical validity of the data. I succeeded in rearranging the Field Nets to all be 3-shelf nets instead of 4-shelf, and replaced the destroyed 9-meter net in the Upland Nets with a 12-meter net, while the two remaining Upland Nets were kept in place with the holes being about a foot or so in diameter, hoping that this won't become a problem.

Revisiting last weeks posting for a moment, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak photo posted there apparently shows a hatch-year bird, not a second-year bird. The molt in the greater secondary coverts can vary between individuals, but the overall brownish coloration on the primaries and secondaries clearly point toward hatch-year. At the time, I didn't intend to discuss molt in this species so I did not post a useful and informative photo of the spread wing from above, which I've posted here below.

Hatch-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak banded 30 September 2009

This week started with an excellent day on Sunday, October 4, and a much slower day on Thursday, October 8 (postponed from October 7 due to high winds and rain). It was clear that both species of Kinglet had come in strong since last week. Check the numbers banded on Sunday. Numbers of White-throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Winter Wren were good on Sunday but on Thursday these species were scarce, so apparently we're between "waves" as there are clearly more being reported north of us. On both days, American Robins were a surprise as mostly we band these in early August.

Hatch-year American Robin

I don't often post about recaptures, as it takes me a while to look them all up and many are birds banded only a few days prior, but this week we recaptured a Black-capped Chickadee on Sunday that was banded originally as a hatch-year, sex unknown, in October 2005 and recaptured in spring of 2008 when it was determined to be a male. This chickadee is now a 5th-year male. And on Thursday we recaptured a female Northern Cardinal that was banded as an after hatch-year bird in April 2005 and not recaptured again until this year. She is now an after 5th-year female.

Banding highlights from Sunday, October 4 included a surprisingly late Eastern Wood-Pewee, and was our 5th for the season (sometimes we don't catch any).

Hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

There is sometimes a lot of discussion on-line about identifying vagrant Western Wood-Pewees in the East. One of the field marks (but not the only one of course) often pointed to is the amount of orange on the base of the lower mandible. Western Wood-Pewee is supposed to show very little orange here while Eastern is supposed to show more. In my experience, which as noted does not include banding this species every fall, is that there can be individual hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewees with a very limited amount of orange at the base of the lower mandible. That was the case with this individual today, and a photo of the bill from the underside is posted below.

Hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

Another surprise, since it does not seem to be an irruption year for the species, was a Red-breasted Nuthatch found in the bottom panel of one of the Swamp Nets.

Hatch-year female Red-breasted Nuthatch

It was a good day to compare thrushes as Gray-cheeked, Swainson's, and Hermit were all captured today, though in small numbers. The photo below is a good comparison between Swainson's and Gray-cheeked fortuitously captured at the same time.

Hatch year Swainson's (left) and Gray-cheeked Thrushes

In addition to the first big push of kinglets of the fall, it was also a good day for warblers, with 17 individuals of 7 species banded. Orange-crowned Warbler is always nice to catch, and we had two of them, and a single Chestnut-sided Warbler was somewhat late. One of the nicest was this handsome Black-throated Green Warbler, one of two banded today.

Hatch-year male Black-throated Green Warbler

Sparrows continued with a strong showing with 4 species, and good numbers of White-throated continuing. The first good number of American Goldfinches since the thistle feeders were put up near the Field Nets was captured today as well.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a begging young Great Horned Owl again, a Tufted Titmouse (infrequent in the banding area, but regular near the Nature Center), a Marsh Wren singing from the dying Phragmites that were sprayed two weeks ago, two Palm Warblers, and single American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush. A single 'peek' note heard indicated that a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was still in the area.

Banding highlights from Thursday, October 8 included a somewhat late Marsh Wren, the 5th one of the fall, though all the previous individuals banded were in heavy molt and not as photogenic as this young bird, which has completed its first prebasic molt.

Hatch-year Marsh Wren

The number of kinglets, thrushes, sparrows, and warblers were all significantly decreased from earlier in the week, so 5 American Robins, 2 Nashville Warblers, and a Lincoln's Sparrow were notable.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included perhaps two begging Great Horned Owls this time, in the dark while we were setting up, at least two Tufted Titmice, a couple Yellow-rumped Warblers and a single Common Yellowthroat.

Banding this week could not have been done without the help of several very helpful and enthusiastic volunteers. With the help of first-timers Bob and Tenchi Wayner, Rick and Diana Langlois, and "banding assistant extraordinaire" Terri Chapdelaine, we were able to take down the nets and poles in a record 50-minutes! Thanks also to Chris Charlebois, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack for being flexible in their schedule allowing us to shift from windy, rainy Wednesday to a less-windy Thursday.

Banding Data
SUNDAY, October 4, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:32
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 4.75-13.25
Net Hours: 86.250
Temperature (F): 51-57
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SW @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 29.94-29.99
Precipitation: Trace
No. Banded: 125 (plus 30 recaptured)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 179.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: Terri Chapdelaine, Diana Langlois, Rick Langlois, Bob Wayner, Tenchi Wayner

Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 2
Winter Wren - 5
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 25
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 14
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Hermit Thrush - 2 (plus 5 recaptured)
American Robin - 6
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Nashville Warbler - 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 5
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-throated Green Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 8 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 3 (plus 3 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 22 (plus 7 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 11

THURSDAY, October 8, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:36
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 4.75-13.25
Net Hours: 82.938
Temperature (F): 43-59
Cloud Cover: 10-100%
Wind: SSW @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 30.12-30.09
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 26 (plus 12 recaptured)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 45.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: Chris Charlebois, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack

[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
Marsh Wren - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Robin - 5
Nashville Warbler - 2
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 5 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 7 (plus 2 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 1

Friday, October 2, 2009

Metro Beach banding report - September 30, 2009

Banding was conducted on only one day this week. I'm guessing that the lack of volunteers was partly due to the poor weather early and late in the week, allowing only Wednesday and Thursday as the only reasonable days. As the season's first serious cold front passed through on Monday and Tuesday, it was a day with great potential on Wednesday as the front had just passed, the rain had stopped, and the wind had reduced in velocity. The results speak for themselves, with 152 birds banded plus 29 recaptures, with a great diversity of 37 species (one short of the record number of species). A very busy day!

On the down side, White-tailed Deer ran through two more nets, destroying them. This is now 8 nets destroyed by deer this year, and I am not able to keep up financially to replace them. It will be challenging to reconfigure the nets I have remaining to keep the setup somewhat consistent for the remainder of the season. Even worse, two or three birds were killed in the nets by the deer. It has been very difficult to repel the deer from the banding area as they have no fear of humans, but I will step up my efforts to repel them for the remainder of the banding season, which ends October 31. I will have to evaluate whether it is worthwhile continuing this project beyond this season. A deer cull in the park may need to be considered, and I may have to consider halting banding at this locale until after such a cull is performed.

Banding highlights from Wednesday, September 30 included several new arrivals for the fall. Three Northern Flickers were in one of the field nets, on the same net run. That's a lot of feisty in one net!

Second-year male Northern Flicker

A little on the late side, was our tenth Yellow-bellied Flycatcher of the season, and the second Eastern Phoebe of the fall was captured today.

Hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Three species of wren were captured today, including a late-ish House Wren, a late-ish Marsh Wren, and four more Winter Wrens. The first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the fall was caught today, although they've been in the area for at least a week.

Hatch-year female Golden-crowned Kinglet

Good numbers of thrushes were captured today, including three species, though the Hermit Thrush is beginning to dominate as expected. Thirteen species of warbler was very good for a late September day. While I expected to catch a lot of Nashville Warblers, there was only one (and one recaptured). Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers made their second appearance in the nets, with increased numbers, while both Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers were firsts for the fall.

Hatch-year Bay-breasted Warbler

The lack of streaks on the breast, buffy-whitish underparts including undertail coverts, and gray feet and legs, identify the warbler in the photo above as a Bay-breasted.

Hatch-year Blackpoll Warbler

The warbler in the photo above shows a bird that is very white on the belly (continuing onto the undertail coverts not visible), as well as being fairly yellow on the throat and breast with distinct dark streaks on the sides of the breast. These are characters of Blackpoll Warbler. The diagnostic yellow feet can sometimes be difficult to see, and indeed in many young Blackpoll Warblers this yellow is limited to the soles of the feet so can't be seen well at all! The adult Blackpoll Warbler in the photo below shows extensively yellow feet, but most individuals will not be adults, and may not be close enough to see the feet.

After hatch-year Blackpoll Warbler

Singles of Black-and-white Warbler and American Redstart were a little late, and very welcome as both species have been caught in very low numbers this fall. Another surprise was two tardy Northern Waterthrushes.

Hatch-year Northern Waterthrush

Another Rose-breasted Grosbeak was caught today, another somewhat tardy migrant. This one allowed me to hold it in the "photographer's grip" without my getting bitten by that powerful seed-smashing bill.

Hatch-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The contrast between the black and brown wing coverts visible in the photo above allow this individual to be aged as second-year (it has molted out of the black-and-white breeding plumage). The previous individual banded last week did not allow me to show the underwing coverts, which make it easy to determine the sex of these birds as they are yellow in females and rose-pink in males, as in the photo below.

Second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

An Indigo Bunting was another unexpected capture as it too is somewhat late, and the second one this fall. Sparrows were around in force, with 5 species banded and White-throated, Lincoln's, and Swamp Sparrows in good numbers. White-crowned Sparrows prefer more open habitats than the tangled, shrubby fields and swamp woods where the nets are located, so it is always a pleasant surprise when we catch them. Today we had three, including this nice adult.

After hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two Great Horned Owls (one calling adult, one begging juvenile), a migrating Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Whip-poor-will flushed near (but not into!) a net, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Cape May and Black-throated Green Warblers, and a single Purple Finch out in the field briefly in the morning.

Many thanks to the volunteers who made banding possible on this day: John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, September 30, 2009
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:28
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: 95.188
Temperature (F): 47-57
Cloud Cover: 100-50%
Wind: NW-N @ 7-10-15 mph
Barometer: 30.10-30.12
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 152 (plus 29 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 37
Capture Rate: 191.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: John Bieganowski, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack

Northern Flicker - 3
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Brown Creeper - 3
House Wren - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 4
Marsh Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swainson's Thrush - 3
Hermit Thrush - 11 (plus 4 recaptured)
[Gray Catbird - 2 recaptured]
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 9
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Palm Warbler - 3
Bay-breasted Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 4
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 7 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 5
Swamp Sparrow - 17 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 42 (plus 6 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 3
Northern Cardinal - 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
American Goldfinch - 1