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

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