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)

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