Saturday, April 17, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - April 13 & 16, 2010

Where are all the birds? Two more days with very low numbers banded has me wondering. I suspect that the early, sustained warm trend since mid-March has allowed overwintering birds to return north earlier than normal, and possibly allow some early migrants like Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, and Winter Wren, to overfly our area. Other birds that should be here are not much in evidence, including no Eastern Phoebes and fewer Song and Swamp Sparrows than I'd expect by now. But two species that I normally band in good numbers all during April have avoided the nets so far. Only two American Robins have been banded this spring, while I have not yet banded a single Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, or Brown-headed Cowbird. On April 11, 2009, I banded 79 birds, more than the total of all 5 days so far since April 3, 2010! A visit to the feeders at the nature center suggests that not many female Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived yet, as the ratio was about 10 to 1 males to females. So, possibly few are setting up territories in the marsh until more females arrive. I'm sure that the migration will improve in the coming weeks.

Banding highlights of Tuesday, April 13 include the first Dark-eyed Junco of the season which I suspect will be the last.

Two Hermit Thrushes were also welcome arrivals. Interesting birds observed but not banded included NINE Common Loons flying over in a generally northerly direction (all in breeding plumage), a single Great Egret, a calling American Woodcock, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Winter Wrens, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, two Yellow-rumped Warblers, a single Fox Sparrow on the drive out at the end of the day, and a single Rusty Blackbird. Butterflies observed included a Mourning Cloak and a Spring Azure.

Banding highlights of Friday, April 16 was the fact that we didn't get shut out entirely! The six birds banded today tied the worst day since 2004, but that previous day we only had the nets open for about 3 hours and took the nets down in high winds and thunderstorms. We didn't have any of those excuses today! Interesting birds observed but not banded included one Common Loon calling in flight, a female Northern Harrier, a calling Sandhill Crane that eventually flew off to the southwest, a briefly calling American Woodcock, a flyover Bonaparte's Gull, two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, four Yellow-rumped Warblers, and the first White-throated Sparrow in the banding area so far this spring. Butterflies observed included Mourning Cloak, Cabbage White, and Spring Azure. American Toads were calling all day along with Western Chorus Frogs and a single Leopard Frog. A sighting of a single Green Darner dragonfly was soon followed by TWO of them flying in tandem, mating.

Banding on these two days could not have been done without the help of the following volunteers: David Boon, Jean Gramlich, Gisela Lendle-King, Tom Schlack, and Rachelle Sterling.

Banding Data
TUESDAY, April 13, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:55
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 6.00 (closed from 9:00-10:00 due to rain)
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 73.500
Temperature (F): 46-63
Cloud Cover: 100-90%
Wind: ENE-SW @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 30.52-30.53
Precipitation: Light rain from 8:30-10:00
No. Banded: 14 (plus 4 recaptured)
No. of Species: 7
Capture Rate: 24.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: David Boon, Tom Schlack, Rachelle Sterling

Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 2
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
American Goldfinch - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)

FRIDAY, April 16, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:50
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:15
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:15 (closed early due to wind)
Hours Open: 6.00
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 72.500
Temperature (F): 64-68
Cloud Cover: 80-100-50%
Wind: SW-NW @ 7-10-15 mph
Barometer: 29.93-29.86
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 6 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 4
Capture Rate: 9.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers: Jean Gramlich, Gisela Lendle-King

Black-capped Chickadee - 1
[Song Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 4

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