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

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