Sunday, September 26, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - September 22, 24 & 25, 2010

The weather this past week presented a few challenges for banding.

Wednesday, September 22, was a non-standard effort day. I was in the park that day anyway to clean and refill the hummingbird feeders near the Field Edge net, which have been a standard part of the setup since 2005, and decided to put up 5 nets and see if I could catch a few hummingbirds, and possibly other species too. The rain in the morning delayed setting up for about an hour, and in mid-morning I had to close the nets down so that I could catch up to band all the birds I had caught (nearly 100 for the day!).

On Friday, September 24, a wind advisory was in the forecast starting at 11:00 a.m. It was windy at 6:00 a.m. but not too windy to band, and most of the nets were sheltered from the southwest winds. We ended up closing the Upland Nets around 10:30 as they were most exposed to the wind, and right on schedule at 11:00 the winds picked up considerably, and we closed all the nets soon after.

Saturday, September 25, was unhindered by weather though the winds were stronger than I'd prefer it was still safe to open all the nets, and winds diminished through the day. The result was another 100+ bird day, including lots of warblers in addition to thrushes, sparrows, and kinglets which have all definitely moved in this week. The number of birds throughout the day caused us to stay open an hour longer than is standard. Numbers of American Goldfinches were diminished, though the 300th of the season was banded on the 24th, and the 1000th bird of the season was also banded on the 24th, which is perhaps the earliest we've reached this threshhold in fall.

A hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler, banded on September 15, was apparently found dead (it may have been alive when first found) by a homeowner just outside the park (exact locale not yet known) on September 18. This is the second time this has happened with this species...the first time was a couple years ago and involved a male Black-throated Blue.

Banding highlights on Wednesday, September 22 included 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and the first two Ruby-crowned Kinglets of the fall. Observers had been reporting this species for more than a week, but I'd failed to catch, or even observe any until today.

Another highlight was a warbler that had me taking a second look.

The grayish head, green upperparts, yellow underparts, and lack of wing bars told me immediately that it was an Oporornis, but which one? It looked big, and I was tempted to call it a Connecticut, but the eye ring didn't look complete enough. But the apparent size, as well as the late date, made me skeptical that it was a Mourning. Back at the banding station (the back of my car), I broke out my Pyle guide and set to work taking the measurements that distinguish Connecticut from Mourning Warbler. The sixth and ninth primaries were of equal length, and subtracting the flattened wing measurement from the tail measurement, were both in the range for Mourning Warbler. Another character, that I'd overlooked in my excitement, was the length of the undertail coverts, which are much longer in Connecticut than in Mourning.

The few times I've captured Connecticut Warblers, the wide, full eyering has been quite obvious, so this bird did give me doubts, and the fact that it turned out to be a Mourning Warbler (hatch-year male) wasn't too surprising. But it was quite late for Mourning Warbler, which peaks in migration in this area during August.

Interesting birds observed today but not banded included a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, two Brown Creepers, many Golden-crowned Kinglets, Gray-cheeked, Swainson's, and Wood Thrush, and a Brown Thrasher. Warblers observed but not banded included Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Palm, and Northern Waterthrush. Two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were also observed.

Banding highlights on Friday, September 24 included two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and the first Winter Wren of the season.

Three Gray Catbirds were caught, for the first major influx of this species this fall, which is very strange. The number of catbirds, as well as Swamp Sparrows (only one banded today), is way down compared to every previous fall season since 2005.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Brown Creeper, a singing Carolina Wren in the distance (strangely scarce in the banding area this year), and a flyover American Pipit.

Banding highlights on Saturday, September 25 included three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a hatch-year female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, only the third since 2005 and the ninth since 1989. Hatch-year sapsuckers typically retain a lot of their brown juvenal plumage, particularly on the back, face, breast, and flanks. Both males and females have red on the crown, though females have less, and males often have some red feathers on the throat as well. It was not possible to get a photo of her with her bill closed, and she attempted to drill a hole into my knuckle...

Another first was a Red-breasted Nuthatch (hatch-year female), which is only the sixth since 2005 and the tenth since 1989.

The first Brown Creeper was right on schedule and, along with the kinglets, indicative of the gradually changing character of the fall migration season.

Several Golden-crowned Kinglets were captured today for the first of likely many more to come.

Having these little scrappers in-hand allows us to see the differences in crown color between the all-yellow females (above) and the yellow with orange in the center of males (below).

The first Hermit Thrushes are yet another indication that fall migration is shifting away from warblers and flycatchers to the later, and shorter-distance migrants.

But warblers aren't done yet! Nine species were banded today with good numbers of both Magnolia and Black-throated Blue, the latter typically a later migrant which we'll likely catch at least into the middle of October. A Northern Waterthrush was a little on the late side. Magnolia Warblers are one of my favorites, and a challenge still awaiting a solution is to be able to sex the hatch-year birds. They show so much variation, but there seem to be several characters that, when taken together, may allow sexing of a very few. I've been working on this for many years, but am not yet ready to state anything definitively. So, it is nice when we catch a clear, after hatch-year (adult) male.

Note the broad, "truncate" tips on the tail feathers indicative of an after hatch-year (his skull was also completely ossified. The all-black upper tail coverts, large black centers on the back feathers, and especially the black feathers on the face, all indicate that he's a male.

Two rather drab birds were captured today, with which I always enjoy "quizzing" the banding assistants.

The lack of field marks is in itself a good field mark, while the short conical bill indicates a species in the sparrow or finch family. This hatch-year female Indigo Bunting was also streaked lightly below and had no blue feathers at all. The two banded today were only the 6th and 7th in fall since 2005.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a flyover Wood Duck, a fly-past Black-bellied Plover, a Northern Harrier working the marsh, and a calling Wood Thrush. Two additional warbler species were observed, Yellow-rumped and Black-throated Green.

Many thanks to the volunteers who came out to help this week. Banding could not have been done without you! Thanks to Melissa Brady, Mary Buchowski, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack, and Sue Wright.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, September 22, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:19
Time Open (E.S.T.): 7:15 (rain delayed open)
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 4.25 (closed 9:00-10:00 to catch up)
No. of Nets: 3.00-5.25
Net Hours: 21.188
Temperature (F): 66-70
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: S @ 3-5-10 mph
Barometer: 29.65-29.77
Precipitation: Rain delayed open
No. Banded: 97 (plus 14 recaptures and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 538.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 7:00-16:00): Allen Chartier.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
House Wren - 4 (plus 3 recaptured)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Gray Catbird - 2
[Nashville Warbler - 1 released unbanded]
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 2
Mourning Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 6 (plus 3 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 10 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 30 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 29 (plus 3 recaptured)

FRIDAY, September 24, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:21
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:00 (high winds forced early close)
Hours Open: 5.25
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 58.313
Temperature (F): 72-81
Cloud Cover: 80-100%
Wind: SSW @ 10-12-20+ mph
Barometer: 29.55-29.45
Precipitation: None.
No. Banded: 45 (plus 3 recaptures)
No. of Species: 18
Capture Rate: 82.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 7.0 hours, 6:00-13:00): Dave Lancaster, Sue Wright.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
House Wren - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 3
Nashville Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Song Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured!)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 14
American Goldfinch - 10 (plus 4 recaptured)

SATURDAY, September 25, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:22
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 14:00
Hours Open: 8.00
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 100.750
Temperature (F): 58-59
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: W-NW @ 7-12-5 mph
Barometer: 29.60-29.71
Precipitation: None.
No. Banded: 124 (plus 9 recaptures)
No. of Species: 28
Capture Rate: 132.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours, 6:00-17:00): Melissa Brady, Mary Buchowski, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 3 (plus 3 recaptured)
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 5 (plus 2 recaptured)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 6
Swainson's Thrush - 4
Hermit Thrush - 2
[Gray Catbird - 1 recaptured]
Nashville Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 16
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 16
Palm Warbler - 4
Blackpoll Warbler - 5
American Redstart - 4
Ovenbird - 5
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 4
[Lincoln's Sparrow - 1 recaptured!]
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 12
Northern Cardinal - 1
Indigo Bunting - 2
American Goldfinch - 16 (plus 1 recaptured)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - September 15 & 18, 2010

The migration continued strong this past week with lots of warblers still present mid-week, and thrushes and sparrows arriving in greater numbers. But Wednesday was clearly a better day (tenth highest number banded in one day since 1989 and greatest species diversity so far this fall). Saturday was poor mainly because the weather let us down, allowing only 2.5 hours of open net time.

Highlights of birds banded on Wednesday, September 15 included 7 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and three species caught for only the second time this fall, single Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The first Blue-headed Vireo of the season was a nice catch, though it didn't cooperate very well for photos.

Another White-breasted Nuthatch was the third for the season, which is likely a record for this locale. Thrush numbers were up from recent days, and included three Gray-cheeked Thrushes among the Swainson's. Note the prominent pale buff spots on the tips of the wing coverts, indicating a hatch-year bird.

Among the day's 13 species of warbler banded were the first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the fall.

The dominant warblers today were Nashville (10 banded) and Black-throated Blue (6 banded). Three Palm Warblers were also interesting as not many have been banded here in recent years. The first few White-throated Sparrows were detected in the banding area on September 11, but the first ones were banded today, most of them hatch-year birds.

Six Lincoln's Sparrows were an unexpected number for the first of the season, as more are typically banded in spring than in fall. And, I'll admit they're probably my favorite sparrow with crisp finely detailed markings, and a beautiful almost thrush-like song. It's also the first bird I ever saw in-hand, when Dr. Dan McGeen showed me one at his station in Oakland County, Michigan back in the mid-1970s, so is always a special reminder of that.

Surprising in in one way that it was the season's first, and in another way that it was a hatch-year male Red-winged Blackbird with a very short tail suggesting recent fledging. Most years several (to many) are typically captured in early August, but none were caught this year. Red-wings usually abandon the cattail marshes adjacent to the banding area in late July or early August after they fledge young, and tend to spend September and October in farm fields. This individual was determined to be a male by a combination of wing length and band size required (males are larger).

Another species that has been in very low numbers this fall is Gray Catbird, which was not captured today and only a couple so far this fall. Normally, 15-20 Gray Catbirds are banded here each fall. Swamp Sparrow is also in this category, with only six banded so far - nearly 50 had been banded by this time last fall. Where are they? American Goldfinches continued to be captured in good numbers, already well above the record number of 233 set in 2008.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a Cooper's Hawk circling overhead, a single Red-breasted Nuthatch still calling near the road but not near the nets, a surprisingly early Golden-crowned Kinglet (I still haven't seen a Ruby-crowned this fall), and two Purple Finches in the treetop out near the Field Nets (only one has ever been banded at this station).

Highlights of birds banded on Saturday, September 18 included four Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, two Gray-cheeked Thrushes (the only thrushes today), an Ovenbird, and a single Lincoln's Sparrow. Given that we were rain-delayed opening by almost an hour, then after only 2 1/2 hours open we had to close early due to rain and threatening rain (which didn't materialize--what happened to that big green blob on the radar map?), there are no photo highlights available today. The 300th American Goldfinch of this fall was banded today, warranting a brief "celebration".

Interesting birds observed but not banded included an immature male Cooper's Hawk perched out near the Field Nets for a short time, a briefly calling Wood Thrush, a hooting Great Horned Owl before sunrise, and a Winter Wren calling near the road. There were a few warblers in the area but in small numbers, including Nashville, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Blackpoll, and Northern Waterthrush.

Many thanks to the volunteers who made banding on these two days possible: Melissa Brady, Mary Buchowski, Terri Chapdelaine, Chris Goulart, Amanda Grimm, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack, and Judi Wade.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, September 15, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:11
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 92.875
Temperature (F): 48-70
Cloud Cover: 10-20%
Wind: S @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 29.88-29.84
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 151 (plus 12 recaptures and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 30
Capture Rate: 180.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Melissa Brady, Amanda Grimm, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 7
Northern Flicker - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
House Wren - 3 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 3
Swainson's Thrush - 12
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 10
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Palm Warbler - 3
Blackpoll Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 3
Ovenbird - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 8 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 6
Swamp Sparrow - 5
White-throated Sparrow - 9
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 42 (plus 8 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, September 18, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:14
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:45 (rain delayed open)
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 9:15 (rain forced early close)
Hours Open: 2.50
No. of Nets: 3.25
Net Hours: 33.125
Temperature (F): 59-63
Cloud Cover: 70-100%
Wind: SSW @ 3-5-12 mph
Barometer: 29.84-29.87
Precipitation: Rain from 5:30-6:30 and 9:00-11:00.
No. Banded: 40 (plus 6 recaptures)
No. of Species: 8
Capture Rate: 138.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 6.0 hours, 6:00-12:00): Mary Buchowski, Terri Chapdelaine, Chris Goulart, Tom Schlack, Judi Wade.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 4
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Ovenbird - 1
Commnon Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 11
American Goldfinch - 17 (plus 4 recaptured)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - Week of September 5-11, 2010

Banding was conducted on three days this week, with standardized sessions on Sunday, September 5 and Wednesday, September 8, and a non-standardized session on Saturday, September 11. Weather was generally good, though with some wind, and migration was good for hummingbirds and great for warblers. A new one-day record for American Goldfinches (59) was set on Sunday, but numbers seemed to diminishi a little later in the week, as it seems that the resident breeding birds may be starting to move out. More to come I'm sure. The season's total for American Goldfinches has now surpassed the record season of 2007.

Banding highlights on Sunday, September 5 included 13 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the peak day so far this season. One of these was an adult male, perhaps the last we'll see this season as the majority of this age/sex class tends to migrate out of the state before Labor Day. The photo below shows a close up of his iridescent red throat.

Among the 14 species of warbler banded today was another hatch-year female Cape May Warbler, the second this season and only the second since 2004.

A hatch-year male Black-and-white Warbler was nice to see after a couple of fall seasons with very few banded.

And it was the first day that allowed for comparisons of the two ultimate "confusing fall warblers", Bay-breasted and Blackpoll. Can you tell which is which from the photos below?

In general, Blackpoll Warblers in fall look yellowish and whitish, while Bay-breasteds look greenish and buffy. Blackpolls have pale feet, but often this is restricted to the soles, which are not visible when the bird is perched! Both species can have streaked backs, but Blackpoll tends to have more obvious streaks on the underparts and Bay-breasted usually lacks them there. Under tail coverts of Blackpoll Warblers are usually bright clean white while those of Bay-breasted are more buffy. Some male Bay-breasteds will show some chestnut on the flanks. In-hand, we can look at the 6th primary to check to see if it is emarginated...Bay-breasted if it is, Blackpoll if it is not. If you haven't figured it out yet, the top photo is Blackpoll and the bottom photo is Bay-breasted.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two distant Great Horned Owls calling before sunrise, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Warbling Vireo still singing a bit, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-throated Green and Blackburnian Warblers, and single Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Baltimore Oriole.

Banding highlights on Wednesday, September 8 is led by the overall total for the day, 175 birds, which was the fifth highest one-day total ever banded at this station since 1989. The 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds was a good total, but included a rather unusual individual. It may not be easy to see in the photo below, but it is an immature male with a mostly white throat, but the tail is an adult-type, with pointy all-black feathers. Apparently, this bird lost its tail fairly recently, and is growing in an adult tail, something I've seen in passerines on occasion but this is the first time I've seen it in a hummingbird.

By mid-morning, it seemed like it was raining warblers, and by the end of the day (nets were closed early to catch up), 121 warblers of 15 species had been banded. Among the 10 Tennessee Warblers was this adult, which in my opinion could be passed off as an early Orange-crowned Warbler. But Jon Dunn, author of the Peterson Warblers field guide, believes that Orange-crowns do not occur in the Great Lakes before about September 20, and for the most part I agree with him.

This bird even had a suggestion of streaking on the breast, similar to what might be seen on an Orange-crowned.

Blackpoll Warbler was the most numerous warbler banded today (31), with a couple Bay-breasteds thrown in to keep us on our toes. The first Palm Warblers of the season were caught out in the Field Nets. One of the volunteers was puzzling over a warbler key he had suggesting that Palm Warblers had brown wing bars.

American Redstarts held second place in the warbler department, with 28 banded. The individual below is a good test for birders, many of whom would call it a female redstart.

But the orange, not yellow patches on the sides of the breast indicate that this is a hatch-year male American Redstart. The hatch-year female Blackburnian Warbler in the photo below was a nice catch, as they are typically a fairly early migrant, and this was the fourth for the season.

I always get excited when I catch a Northern Parula, because I don't catch them every year. Today, there were THREE! I'll resist the temptation to post photos of all of them, but will share three photos of this nice hatch-year male, sexed by the chestnut and gray patches on his breast.

There were other non-warbler highlights as well, including this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, another species I don't band every year.

And two White-breasted Nuthatches were unusual for this station as, for some reason, they do not frequent this swamp woods transitioning to shrubby marsh, though last year I caught one out in the Field Nets! They were both in the net together, and the upper photo shows the male with his black crown and the lower photo shows the female with her blue-gray crown.

The Philadelphia Vireo is a species that has been nearly AWOL at the Metro Beach banding station since 2004, and the individual banded today was only the fourth since then. Between 1989-1999, 48 were banded here with 44 of them in the fall season. Perhaps they're staging a comeback?

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a Black-billed Cuckoo, three Eastern Wood-Pewees in one tree, two Gray-cheeked Thrushes heard giving nocturnal flight calls, and three additional warbler species (Black-throated Green, Northern Waterthrush, and Canada). The number of warblers in the banding area today was easily double what was banded.

A non-standard banding session was conducted on Saturday, September 11, to support the Hummingbirds and Monarchs program put on by the Metro Beach nature center. Only three nets were opened, the Field Edge net which is "baited" with hummingbird feeders near it, and the two Willow nets which are among some nice stands of Jewelweed. These have been the most productive nets for hummingbirds this fall, and today produced a respectable total of 11 banded. The photo below shows a hatch-year male with white Jewelweed pollen matted on his forehead, a common occurrence in the banding area this time of year.

Hummingbird banders tell the age of hummingbirds by the presence or absence of "corrugations" on the bill. These wrinkles or groovings, are only visible with 10x magnification, and is difficult to photograph, but I did manage a decent shot today...

Several warblers were also banded, and many more were in the area. At one point, 7 Black-throated Blue Warblers were overhead in one small tree, and a half-dozen Ovenbirds were in the area of the Swamp Nets. Clearly, had we opened all 13 nets, it would have been another great day for warblers. Other interesting birds observed but not banded included a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Philadelphia Vireo, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, and Bay-breasted Warblers as well as a Northern Parula. The first small flock (5-6) of White-throated Sparrows was in the banding area, along with a single Lincoln's Sparrow. A walk to the beach, well outside the banding area, turned up a Trumpeter Swan that has been lingering in the area, as well as a Buff-breasted Sandpiper keeping company with a Black-bellied Plover. Other shorebirds on the beach included a Sanderling and a Least Sandpiper, while one Semipalmated Plover was a flyby.

The Monarchs portion of the program was well-timed today too, though it was a cool morning and a sunny afternoon, followed by late afternoon rain. There was probably well over 100 Monarchs out near the Field Nets today, and I tried my best to get some photos of them in groups. Remember to click on the photos to view them larger.

The individual below seemed to be darker than the others...

Many thanks to the following volunteers who worked very hard this week, and without whom banding could not be done at this location: Terri L. Chapdelaine, Nancy L. Chartier, Lorie F. Dietz, Kerin N. Dietz, Thierry Lach, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack.

Banding Data
SUNDAY, September 5, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:01
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 94.125
Temperature (F): 49-75
Cloud Cover: 10-50%
Wind: WSW @ 3-5-10 mph
Barometer: 29.63-29.66
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 114 (plus 24 recaptures and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 22
Capture Rate: 149.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Terri Chapdelaine, Lorie Dietz, Karin Dietz, Thierry Lach.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 13 (plus 1 recaptured)
Willow Flycatcher - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
House Wren - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swainson's Thrush - 2
[American Robin - 1 recaptured]
Tennessee Warbler - 4
Nashville Warbler - 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Cape May Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 3
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 10 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 59 (plus 12 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

WEDNESDAY, September 8, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:04
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 10:45
Hours Open: 4.75
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 55.438
Temperature (F): 60-66
Cloud Cover: 100-50-80%
Wind: WNW-NW @ 5-7-12 mph
Barometer: 29.67-29.65
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 175 (plus 14 recaptures and 8 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 355.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 6:00-16:30): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 12
[Willow Flycatcher - 2 recaptured]
Least Flycatcher - 1
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
House Wren - 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 10
Nashville Warbler - 6
Northern Parula - 3
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 4
Magnolia Warbler - 15 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
Palm Warbler - 2
Bay-breasted Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 31
Black-and-white Warbler - 6
American Redstart - 28
Ovenbird - 1
Commnon Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 4
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 24 (plus 7 recaptured and 8 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, September 11, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:07
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:30
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:30
Hours Open: 5.00
No. of Nets: 3.00
Net Hours: 15.000
Temperature (F): 57-61
Cloud Cover: 20-100%
Wind: ENE-SE @ 3-5-15 mph
Barometer: 29.70-29.63
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 30
No. of Species: 11
Capture Rate: 200.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 6.0 hours, 7:00-13:00): Nancy Chartier (plus Tom Schlack for about an hour).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 11
House Wren - 1
Nashville Warbler - 3
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 5
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Wilson's Warbler - 1
American Goldfinch - 2

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - August 31 & September 2, 2010

Once again, good numbers were banded on these two days, but with American Goldfinches dominating. It is getting time for the peak movement of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which should occur between September 5-15, but good numbers are starting to move through as evidenced by the 8 banded on each day.

The very hot summer and good rainfall during July, though drier in August, has allowed the hummingbird's favorite food plant in migration to bloom quite nicely, especially after last summer's devastation of the plants by White-tailed Deer.

The weather cooperated nicely on Tuesday, August 31st, though the nets were closed a little early due to high heat and humidity. Predicted rain on Thursday, September 2nd held off until we were closing the nets in the early afternoon; then it really came down when we were taking down the nets and poles. Dave Lancaster deserves special recognition for being the lone volunteer helping on Thursday due to a snafu with two other volunteers. Nets were set up more slowly and cautiously, to avoid being overwhelmed with birds, which luckily didn't happen. And also many thanks to Michelle Serreyn from the Nature Center and daily volunteer and owl monitor, Larry McCullough, for helping us take nets and poles down in the rain (and thunder!).

Highlights of birds banded on Tuesday, August 31 included 8 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher of the fall season, the second Marsh Wren, the first two Swainson's Thrushes, and the nice, fresh hatch-year Tennessee Warbler below, one of ten warbler species banded today.

Tennessee tends to be one of the more confusing of the fall warblers for birders. It is a species that lacks tail spots and lacks wing bars, but note the narrow wing bar in this hatch-year bird. Very fresh Tennessee Warblers often show this, as well as the crisp white edges on the tips of the primaries. Quite a nice looking bird really. Otherwise, it is greenish with a bold yellowish supercilium and a very pointed bill. Another nice warbler was this colorful hatch-year male Blackburnian Warbler, showing a hint of the adult face pattern but with bright yellow on the throat and breast instead of orange.

The bird of the day, however, was the nondescript bird in the photo below.

I used to band one or two of these each fall at the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory in Ontario, Canada, but this is the first at Metro Beach since I started in 2004. I love to quiz birders with these, as they can be quite confusing. The presence of wing bars, the overall grayish coloration with olive rump, and (not visible in the photo) narrow distinct breast streaks all point to Cape May Warbler. This hatch-year female is about as dull as they come, and the yellowish patch behind the ear coverts shown as a field mark in most field guides is practically invisible on her. Between 1989-1999, a total of 16 Cape May Warblers was banded at Metro Beach; 7 in spring and 9 in fall. So it was long overdue to be caught in my nets. Honestly, this one got me more excited than the Connecticut Warbler did last week!

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Carolina Wren, which had gone undetected all spring in the banding area for the first time in several years. Welcome back! Also, both Black-throated Blue and Black-and-white Warblers were observed in addition to the ten species banded.

Highlights of birds banded on Thursday, September 2 included another Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and five warbler species, as well as the previously mentioned 8 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and the first two Gray Catbirds of the season. The Northern Waterthrush in the photo below shows the "cinnamon" tertial edges characteristic of a hatch-year bird; something that could be detected in the field. But use caution, as lack of these pale tertial edges and tips does not indicate an adult!

Interesting birds observed, but not banded today included a begging Great Horned Owl before sunrise, Red-eyed Vireos were still singing, along with an occasional song from an Eastern Wood-Pewee (and Warbling Vireo, which was banded), and additional warbler species not banded including Nashville, Blackpoll, American Redstart, Wilson's, and Canada. At 6 a.m., while waiting for volunteers to arrive at the Day Sail parking area, many Swainson's Thrushes were heard overhead giving their nocturnal flight call, and a couple Gray-cheeked calls were detected as well.

An insect highlight was a Mottled Darner, a species I'd not seen before, tangled in the nets which may represent the first specimen of this species for the county. It is named Mottled Darner due to the mottley pattern on the sides of its thorax...other species of darner have distinct yellow bars there.

Again, many thanks to the volunteers who made banding possible on these two days: Jean Gramlich, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack.

Banding Data
TUESDAY, August 31, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:56
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 83.000
Temperature (F): 72-88
Cloud Cover: 100-20%
Wind: Calm-SE @ 0-5-10 mph
Barometer: 29.87-29.80
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 69 (plus 16 recaptures and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 20
Capture Rate: 103.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Jean Gramlich, Tom Schlack.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 8

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 released unbanded]
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-capped Chickadee - 3
House Wren - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 4
Magnolia Warbler - 3
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Canada Warbler - 2
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 29 (plus 12 recaptured)

THURSDAY, September 2, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:58
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 82.875
Temperature (F): 70-84
Cloud Cover: 95-50-100%
Wind: SW @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 29.65-29.62
Precipitation: Light rain at close
No. Banded: 80 (plus 11 recaptures and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 112.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Dave Lancaster.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 8
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured)]
House Wren - 4
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 2
[Ovenbird - 1 recaptured]
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Commnon Yellowthroat - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 48 (plus 6 recaptured)