Sunday, October 10, 2010

Metro Beach banding report - October 7 & 9, 2010

Banding in October is off to a great start with good numbers on both Thursday, October 7 and Saturday, October 9. Cooler conditions earlier in the week gave way to warmer temperatures on banding days, and large flocks of kinglets were diminished in numbers. Warblers were well represented on Thursday, but very scarce on Saturday. Sparrows and thrushes dominated the captures on both days. The 157 birds banded on Thursday was the 8th highest ever, while the 202 banded on Saturday was only 1 short of the all-time record set last year, around this same time. Despite the overall numbers, there were no single-day records for any species, though several were still banded in very good numbers.

Highlights of birds banded on Thursday, October 7 included the 400th American Goldfinch of this season; the record of 233 set in 2008 was left in the dust long ago.

Two firsts for the season included a Blue Jay. We're nearing the end of the peak of their migration, so it was about time we caught one!

And a surprising first was a Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Over the years, a few have been banded, and in a couple instances larger numbers including 50+ on one day this past spring. But never before has one been captured in fall here.

This individual was aged as after hatch-year (adult) based on complete skull ossification, and female based on the lack of "serrations" on the outer primary (present only in males) that gives the species its name. What I did not expect to see, probably because I don't band many swallows and very few in fall, is the apparent suspended flight feather molt she was showing. In the photo below, you can see that the outer three primaries (p10, p9, and p8) are old and duller than the inner primaries, and the adjacent primary coverts show the same pattern. The seventh primary is blacker and is shorter, indicating it has nearly grown in (this was symmetrical on both wings).

The tail also showed symmetrical molt, with the outer three feathers on each side duller and worn. Perhaps this bird will complete its molt before continuing its migration, or will molt while it is migrating, or more likely in my opinion, will suspend molt at this point and resume it on the wintering grounds.

Four Black-throated Blue Warblers were banded today, bringing the season's total to 51, which is one more than the record set in fall 2008.

A Blackpoll Warbler banded today extended the record season by one more individual, and allowed photos of the clean white undertail coverts, which is an often overlooked way to identify the species. Bay-breasted Warblers are often more buffy here. Note the streaks on the breas and sides, which Bay-breasted tends to lack.

An Orange-crowned Warbler was only the second of the season, though I expect more will be captured in the next two weeks or so.

The first Tennessee Warbler in some time, and getting a little late, allowed a comparison with the Orange-crowned Warbler. Note that the yellowest part of the Orange-crowns underparts is on the undertail coverts, while the whitest part of the Tennessee's underparts is on the undertail coverts.

Typically, Tennessee shows a more distinct supercilium but from certain angles, like in the photo above, this can be difficult to see and more closely resembles the Orange-crowns broken yellow eyering.

An unusual individual was a hatch-year Song Sparrow with crossed mandibles.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two Cooper's Hawks and eight Sanderlings, all flyovers.

Highlights of birds banded on Saturday, October 9 included a somewhat late Eastern Wood-Pewee, good numbers of Blue Jays, and the first (3) Dark-eyed Juncos of the fall. After reading about many arrivals of this species in southeastern Michigan, and even in Indiana and Ohio, we were certainly due to catch them. Three photos of one nice adult male are included below.

The large number of birds banded today did not allow many photos, and indeed only the junco was new for the season today. But both yesterday and today, good numbers (for this site) of White-crowned Sparrows were captured. Most of these were hatch-year birds, which have brownish crown stripes instead of black of the adults. Several subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow are known, and the Eastern subspecies is by far the most numerous in Michigan. But there are records of the more western "Gambell's" White-crowned Sparrow in Michigan. They tend to lack the black between the eye and forehead in adults. In hatch-year birds, there is usually a suggestion of this line as shown on the individual below.

A couple individuals, like the one below, seemed to lack this line, and perhaps could have been "Gambell's".

Not a bird highlight, but an interesting insect observation was this tiny (4mm long) "flat fly" (Hippoboscidae) that came off a Golden-crowned Kinglet that was being banded. These flies are very flat, and move through bird feathers quite easily, and feed on their blood. Most often, I've seen larger individuals (species?) that have come off of larger birds. This is the smallest Hippoboscid fly I've seen, and the first I've seen on a kinglet.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a Fox Sparrow as well as a small number of warblers including Yellow-rumped, Palm, and Black-throated Blue. Away from the banding area, some interesting shorebirds were seen on the beach as reported to us by Brian McGee who passed through the banding area around noon. After we closed the station at 4:30, we hit the beach and found seven Dunlin.

With them was a very cooperative juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper.

Farther up the beach, they joined another group of shorebirds that included another White-rumped, two Baird's Sandpipers, and a single Least Sandpiper. Unfortunately, the two Red Knots reported by Brian could not be found.

Many thanks to the volunteers who made banding on these two days possible: John Bieganowski, Teri Chapdelaine, Mike Charlebois, Dave Lancaster (both days!), and Tom Schlack.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 7, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:35
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: 94.125
Temperature (F): 51-72
Cloud Cover: 0-10%
Wind: WNW-NW @ 7-10 mph
Barometer: 29.59-29.68
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 157 (plus 7 recaptures and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 178.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): John Bieganowski, Mike Charlebois, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Blue Jay - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Brown Creeper - 5
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
Winter Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 4
Hermit Thrush - 9
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 12
Palm Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Song Sparrow - 14
Lincoln's Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 51 (plus 4 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 8
American Goldfinch - 16 (plus 2 recaptured)

SATURDAY, October 9, 2010
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:37
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:45
Hours Open: 8.00
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 99.500
Temperature (F): 53-73
Cloud Cover: 0%
Wind: Calm-NE-SE @ 0-3-7 mph
Barometer: 29.69-29.74
Precipitation: None.
No. Banded: 202 (plus 11 recaptures and 10 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 22
Capture Rate: 224.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 6:00-16:30): Terri Chapdelaine, Dave Lancaster.

Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Blue Jay - 21
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 7
[House Wren - 1 released unbanded]
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 23
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 8
Hermit Thrush - 20
[Tennessee Warbler - 1 recaptured]
Orange-crowned Warbler - 3
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Song Sparrow - 19 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 4
Swamp Sparrow - 7 (plus 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 60 (-lus 1 recaptured and 7 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 8
Dark-eyed Junco - 3
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 12 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

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