Monday, May 30, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - May 28, 2011

Another frustrating week, with lots of rain. Banding was scheduled for Thursday, May 26 but in a rare move, I canceled ahead of time because the weather prediction looked so bad it didn't look like it would be worth it for the volunteers to drive all that way only to be rained out. Unfortunately (!), the rain didn't materialize until afternoon so a perfectly good banding day was missed. We were able to get out on Saturday, May 28 though the morning started with intermittent light rain and fog, though not enough to force nets closed, and changing to overcast skies for the day. It was a welcome change from recent weeks to be able to open all the nets, and for a full day of banding.

Highlights of the 54 birds banded on Saturday, May 28 included the first Black-billed Cuckoo banded here since fall 1996, and only the 8th ever. Most have been banded in fall, so this was only the third in spring. Black-billed Cuckoos are rare migrants at Metro Beach, but I've been seeing or hearing them annually for several years. The way this bird held its tail in the air while being photographed was odd.

ASY-U Black-billed Cuckoo

It is a little difficult to see in the photo below, but the inside of the mouth was absolutely black.

ASY-U Black-billed Cuckoo

This was my first cuckoo banded in Michigan; all the others were Black-billed banded in Ontario in the fall, so it was nice to see one with a bright red eye ring.

ASY-U Black-billed Cuckoo

It was also interesting to note that the base of the lower mandible was bluish-gray, not black. Blue-billed Cuckoo???

ASY-U Black-billed Cuckoo

Among a few more Swainson's Thrushes today were the season's first Gray-cheeked Thrushes.

SY-U Gray-cheeked Thrush

Even in-hand the cheeks of this species aren't very gray. In fact, the cheeks of the Veery seem to be nearly as gray to me.

SY-U Gray-cheeked Thrush

A sign of the advanced stage of the spring migration was this female Canada Warbler. Canadas tend to migrate later, and males before females.

SY-F Canada Warbler

There were also good numbers of Wilson's Warbler in the area today, a few of which were banded. And it was another interesting day for Baltimore Orioles, with two more banded and among the four recaptured were individuals that were 3-4 years old. And, this week I received notice of a female Baltimore Oriole banded at Metro Beach in spring 2005 that was found dead (killed by a cat) east of Cleveland, Ohio on May 18, 2011. The high number of recaptures today was probably a record for a single day, and provided excellent information on returning birds that breed at and near Point Rosa Marsh, including one female Yellow Warbler that was banded in 2005 as a second-year.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two Green Herons, at least two Eastern Wood-Pewees, at least three Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, a late lingering (probably breeding) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a very late Hermit Thrush, and Blackburnian and Black-and-white Warblers along with a couple American Redstarts.

Thanks once again to Tom Schlack who has been out so many times this spring, and to Terri Chapdelaine for her very welcome experience with all aspects of the banding operation.

Banding Data
SATURDAY, May 28, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:01
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.75
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 94.438
Temperature (F): 56-70
Cloud Cover: 100-80-100%
Wind: SSE @ 5-7-12 mph
Barometer: 29.93-29.93
Precipitation: Trace in early a.m., fog
No. Banded: 54 (plus 49 recaptured)
No. of Species: 20
Capture Rate: 109.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.5 hours, 6:00-17:30): Terri Chapdelaine, Tom Schlack.

Black-billed Cuckoo - 1
[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Willow Flycatcher - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Blue Jay - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 3
Swainson's Thrush - 2
American Robin - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
European Starling - 1
Yellow Warbler - 6 (plus 12 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 5 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 3
Canada Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
[Swamp Sparrow - 2 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 10 (plus 7 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 5
[Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 recaptured]
Baltimore Oriole - 2 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 9 (plus 11 recaptured)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - May 14 & 19, 2011

This past week was a difficult one, with many rain days presenting challenges for scheduling volunteers, a continuing shortage of volunteer interest, and worst of all four new nets destroyed by two groups of unsupervised school children, while the station was in operation.

Saturday, May 14 was the second banding day of the previous week. Intermittent trace precipitation turned to actual rain just after noon, forcing yet another early closure. The next week only allowed one day of banding, Thursday May 19, partly due to few volunteers and partly due to rain. Since April 1, 70% of all days in southeastern Michigan have had rain. On Thursday only one volunteer could help, so we only set up 9.25 nets instead of the usual 13.25, and started late due to rain and fog early. Unfortunately, by 11 a.m. four of these nets had been completely destroyed, including net poles knocked down, by two school groups. One group that was caught in the act claimed it was accidental and involved only one net, while the other group was not caught and destruction of those three nets was clearly intentional with my "Do Not Enter" signs pulled out and thrown into the weeds, all nets and net poles down on the ground, and very large holes in all of them. Luckily, no birds were in the nets during this destruction, and we continued with only 5.25 nets until the normal closing time. Help from Nature Center staff, Chris Becher and Julie Champion, and volunteer Larry McCullough, was greatly appreciated as it was a lot of work getting the destroyed nets picked clean of debris and packed away.

Highlights of the 76 birds banded on Saturday, May 14 included an Acadian Flycatcher. It was surprising that this was the first Empidonax banded here this spring as the species is typically a later migrant, and is very uncommon at this site (we're near the northern limit of its breeding range). In fact, this was only the 11th ever banded here and only the second since 2004.

AHY-U Acadian Flycatcher

Today was the first real influx of Swainson's Thrushes, with three banded.

AHY-U Swainson's Thrush

There were a few warblers banded, including Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, American Redstart, and Northern Waterthrush, but the majority today were Yellows. It was also a good day for Baltimore Orioles.

SY-M Baltimore Oriole

Five were banded and an additional five were recaptured, including one that had originally been banded at Long Point Bird Observatory, Ontario, in May 2007. Even more interesting is that this same individual was recaptured here at Metro Beach for the first time in 2008!

An unusual male Brown-headed Cowbird was also captured, showing a paler than normal head...a "blond-headed cowbird", almost certainly due to leucism.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included singing Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, all 6 swallow species, and several warblers including Tennessee, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, Wilson's, and Canada.

Highlights of the 50 birds banded on Thursday, May 19 included a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, more Swainson's Thrushes, several Magnolia Warblers, and the season's first Mourning Warbler. This species tends to be a later migrant so its appearance mid-month was a little unexpected.

ASY-M Mourning Warbler

Another season first was another later migrant, a beautiful male Canada Warbler.

SY-M Canada Warbler

A more mundane season-first was a female House Finch, which is not often banded on our plot.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a flyover Green Heron, an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing briefly, as well as a Willow Flycatcher newly arrived for the season. Also noted were Bue-headed Vireo, Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll Warblers.

Many thanks to the banding volunteers who helped out on these two days. This research could not be done without you. Mary Buchowski, Kathy McDonald, and Tom Schlack. And again, thanks to Larry McCullough, Chris Becher, and Julie Champion for helping with the damaged nets.

Banding Data
SATURDAY, May 14, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:15
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:30 (rain forced early close)
Hours Open: 5.50
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 64.493
Temperature (F): 61-63
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: N @ 3-7 mph
Barometer: 29.69-29.71
Precipitation: Trace
No. Banded: 76 (plus 18 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 21
Capture Rate: 150.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 6:00-15:30): Mary Buchowski, Kathy McDonald (5 hrs), Tom Schlack.

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 released unbanded]
Acadian Flycatcher - 1
Least Flycatcher - 1
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
Veery - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 3
American Robin - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 3
Yellow Warbler - 17 (plus 3 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 3
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (plus 2 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 13 (plus 2 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 2
Brown-headed Cowbird - 3
Baltimore Oriole - 5 (plus 5 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 5 (plus 3 recaptured)

THURSDAY, May 19, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:08
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:15
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 4.00-9.25
Net Hours: 50.438 (4 nets down @ 10:00 E.S.T.)
Temperature (F): 53-68
Cloud Cover: 100-70%
Wind: Calm-WSW @ 0-3 mph
Barometer: 29.93-30.02
Precipitation: Fog and trace rain in a.m.
No. Banded: 50 (plus 28 recaptures and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 164.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours, 6:00-17:00): Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
[Willow Flycatcher - 1 recaptured]
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
Veery - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 5
American Robin - 3 (plus 1 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
Gray Catbird - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
European Starling - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
[Yellow Warbler - 4 recaptured]
Magnolia Warbler - 5
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Northern Waterthrush - 4
Mourning Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 6 (plus 4 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Canada Warbler - 1
[Song Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 2 (plus 5 recaptured)
[White-crowned Sparrow - 1 released unbanded]
Red-winged Blackbird - 2 (plus 4 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 2 (plus 3 recaptured)
House Finch - 1
American Goldfinch - 8 (plus 3 recaptured)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - May 6-8, 2011

Another tardy banding report, but this time with a better excuse. The first week of May saw a huge influx of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and it took much of my spare time to update my tracking web page. I suggest you take a look at my Michigan Hummingbird Arrival map.

Banding sessions at Metro Beach Metro Park were conducted on Friday May 6, Saturday May 7, and Sunday May 8, with good results on all days, though as has been typical of this spring, the weather wasn't fully cooperative. A total of 242 birds was banded over the three days. On Friday there was intermittent light rain, and a forced closure of 1.75 hours in late morning. Saturday was free of precipitation all day, though temperatures at the start were quite cool and only 9 (of 13) nets were set up due to a shortage of volunteer help. Sunday was similar to Saturday with no rain and a cool beginning.

Highlights of the 96 birds banded on Friday, May 6 included the first Veery of the spring; there were several in the banding area all day.

AHY-U Veery

Among 8 species of warblers captured today (plus an addtional 5 observed only), was an unusual Blue-winged Warbler. From 1989-2010 only 10 Blue-winged and 8 Golden-winged Warblers have been banded at this site, plus 2 classic "Brewster's", one in spring 1993 and one in spring 2006.

ASY-M Blue-winged Warbler

This bird had a suggestion of the black cheek patch, present in Golden-winged Warbler, as can be seen in the closeup of the bird's head below.

ASY-M Blue-winged Warbler

While it is easy to decide that a bird is a "classic" hybrid Brewster's or Lawrence's, other intermediate individuals make it more difficult to figure out not only what it is, but what to submit to the Banding Lab. There is a very similar illustration to this bird in The Sibley Guide to Birds, on page 428 at the bottom labeled "rare hybrid variant...". But Sibley's illustration shows a bird with yellow wing bars, whereas this bird had white. So, it would seem that this bird was mostly Blue-winged, and I plan to submit it to the BBL that way.

The season's first Black-throated Blue Warbler was a stunning male.

ASY-M Black-throated Blue Warbler

There were good numbers of Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush in the park, with 5 of each banded today.

AHY-U Ovenbird

AHY-U Northern Waterthrush

The most interesting bird of the day, however, was an adult male Yellow-breasted Chat.

ASY-M Yellow-breasted Chat

This is only the 8th chat ever banded at this locale since 1989, and the first since 2005.

ASY-M Yellow-breasted Chat

The season's second Eastern Towhee, another second-year male, was the first time more than one towhee has ever been banded in a single season here.

SY-M Eastern Towhee

Yet another surprise was a Field Sparrow. Only four were banded between 1989-1999, and four more from 2004-2010, with equal numbers in spring and fall; thus this is only the 9th Field Sparrow ever banded here.

Today was also the peak day of the spring season for White-throated Sparrows.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a calling Sora, a flyover Rock Pigeon (a species I've very rarely seen in the park), and Nashville, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Palm, and Black-and-white Warblers. Several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles also eluded capture today.

Highlights of the 83 birds banded on Saturday, May 7 included the season's first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds; two adult males.

AHY-M Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A Wood Thrush, likely the male that had been heard singing yesterday and this morning, was also captured. Typically we band 0-2 of these each spring.

AHY-U Wood Thrush

The first Yellow Warblers were banded today, although two were recaptured yesterday and they were first seen in the area more than a week ago. Numbers of this species will build through the spring as it is a very common nesting bird locally.

ASY-M Yellow Warbler

It is always nice when the first Magnolia Warblers are banded, as it is my favorite warbler species.

SY-M Magnolia Warbler

Surprising was a nice male Wilson's Warbler, a bit earlier than expected.

AHY-M Wilson's Warbler

The Yellow-breasted Chat banded yesterday was recaptured again today. Lincoln's Sparrows made a strong showing today, after the first one was banded yesterday, with 8 today.

ASY-U Lincoln's Sparrow

It is always a nice surprise to find a White-crowned Sparrow in our nets, as they are not frequent in the tangles and swampy marsh edges of the banding area, instead preferring the lawns and nature center feeders in the park.

AHY-U White-crowned Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Least Bittern calling from the marsh just north of the banding road. This species nests most years elsewhere in the park, but this is the first time I've noted them in this particular area. A Solitary Sandpiper was flushed from the wet area between the Field Edge and Field nets, and the season's first Chimney Swift, Least Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird were also noted. Early in the day, a Golden-winged Warbler was singing near several of the nets, but avoided capture, as did Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-thorated Blue, Black-throated Green, Palm, and Black-and-white Warblers.

Highlights of the 63 birds banded on Sunday, May 8 included two Tree Swallows in the Upland nets, where they may decide to nest this year (a SY-F was captured yesterday in the Field nets where there is a nest box nearby).

AHY-M Tree Swallow

This photo (click on it to enlarge) shows the forward-facing feathers in front of the eyes that is characteristic of all swallows.

Somewhat late, it seems, was the season's first Palm Warbler, though we don't usually band very many of these...they are much more common about 100 yards to the south along the shoreline of Lake St. Clair during migration.

AHY-U Palm Warbler

Once again, the Yellow-breasted Chat that was banded on Friday was recaptured today in the Field nets where it was originally captured. And the first Baltimore Oriole of the season was banded today, although one was captured yesterday that had been banded here in a previous year.

ASY-F Baltimore Oriole

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included the Least Bittern, once again calling from north of the banding road. Both Virginia Rail and Sora were heard calling in the marsh out away from the Field nets, and the Solitary Sandpiper was again flushed from the same spot as yesterday. In early afternoon, after all the birding field trips had departed, a White-eyed Vireo began singing right next to our cars!

Banding can not be conducted at this site without the help of volunteers. I would especially like to thank Dave Lancaster and Tom Schlack for coming out on two days this weekend, and for saving the day on Saturday. Also, thank you to Mike and Sarah Matuszak for coming out again, after a chilling inaugural experience for them in early April.

Banding Data
FRIDAY, May 6, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:22
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:15
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 14:00
Hours Open: 6.00 (rain forced closure from 9:15-11:00)
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 76.00
Temperature (F): 50-63
Cloud Cover: 100-60%
Wind: SSW @ 3-5-15 mph
Barometer: 29.90-29.85
Precipitation: Intermittent Rain
No. Banded: 96 (plus 19 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 25
Capture Rate: 156.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours, 6:00-17:00): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured, 1 released unbanded]
House Wren - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Veery - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Blue-winged Warbler - 1
[Yellow Warbler - 2 recaptured]
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Ovenbird - 5
Northern Waterthrush - 5
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Yellow-breasted Chat - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
[Song Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 13 (plus 3 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 36 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 7 (plus 3 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 3
American Goldfinch - 8 (plus 6 recaptured)

SATURDAY, May 7, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:21
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 3.25-9.25
Net Hours: 64.375
Temperature (F): 46-68
Cloud Cover: 70-0%
Wind: NW-ESE @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 29.89-29.93
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 83 (plus 20 recaptures and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 161.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 6:00-16:30): Dave Lancaster (5 hours), Tom Schlack (10.5 hours).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Hairy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Tree Swallow - 1
House Wren - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 2
Wood Thrush - 1
American Robin - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow Warbler - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
[Yellow-breasted Chat - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 12 (plus 5 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 10
White-crowned Sparrow - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 14 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 4
[Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 recaptured]
[Baltimore Oriole - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 5 (plus 3 recaptured)

SUNDAY, May 8, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:20
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:00 (closed early for Mother's Day)
Hours Open: 6.25
No. of Nets: 4.25-13.25
Net Hours: 74.563
Temperature (F): 45-70
Cloud Cover: 60-0%
Wind: NNE-SE @ 3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.03-30.06
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 63 (plus 23 recaptured)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 115.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.5 hours, 6:00-14:30): Mike Matuszak, Sarah Matuszak).

Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Tree Swallow - 2
House Wren - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Veery - 1
Hermit Thrush - 2
[Wood Thrush - 1 recaptured]
[American Robin - 1 recaptured]
Gray Catbird - 1
European Starling - 1
Yellow Warbler - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 5
Palm Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
[Common Yellowthroat - 2 recaptured]
[Yellow-breasted Chat - 1 recaptured]
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 11 (plus 7 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 9 (plus 2 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 2
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 1
American Goldfinch - 7 (plus 2 recaptured)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - April 27 & 30, 2011

This report is tardy as my schedule has gotten quite full with a number of commitments, so the details contained here may be a bit sketchy, which reflects the condition of my now year-older memory as of the 27th. The last week of April was plagued with more rain than was helpful for banding operations, and thus it was more difficult than usual to get banding volunteers. On Wednesday, April 27, three hardy souls turned out on a day punctuated with rain about once an hour, resulting in only 4 of 13 nets getting set up, and for only a couple hours total at that. We did the best we could and managed to band 10 birds including some highlights. On Saturday, April 30, although the weather cooperated nicely only a single volunteer was willing to come out, reliable Tom again. He has been learning how to extract birds from nets, so I decided we could at least set up some of the nets, but not all, so with about 9 of 13 nets up today we did fairly well and didn't get overwhelmed. Of course, the physical exertion of setup and takedown took its toll on my muscles for sure as even 9 nets is still a lot of work for only two people.

Highlights of birds banded on Wednesday, April 27 included the season's first two Blue Jays.

ASY-U Blue Jay

The majority of Blue Jays captured at our site are hatch-year birds in fall, and second-year birds in spring. One of today's' birds was an afte second-year, told by the barring on its primary coverts and alula which are unbarred in younger birds.

Barred primary coverts and alula of ASY-U Blue Jay

The season's first House Wren was right on schedule, if not a couple days late.

AHY-U House Wren

Perhaps most interesting was the season's first Eastern Towhee, since we don't band one every year.

SY-M Eastern Towhee

This bird presented an interesting challenge to age. Eye color is one criterion for aging the species, and this male clearly had a red eye, which should suggest and after second-year bird in the spring.

SY-M Eastern Towhee

But the primary coverts were clearly worn and brown, contrasting with the secondary coverts which suggests the bird was a second-year. It also appeared that the innermost tertial was new, contrasting with the other tertials as well as the duller primaries and secondaries.

SY-M Eastern Towhee

With this conflict of characters, I chose to favor the molt as most indicative of age rather than eye color, and called it a second-year.

Interesting birds observed but not banded were few, due to the rain, but included an American Woodcock calling briefly just before dawn, relatively late Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and season firsts of Wood Thrush, Northenr Waterthrush, and Common Yellowthroat.

Highlights of birds banded on Saturday, April 30 included two Northern Flickers. Yes, the bird in the photo below is taking whacks at my knuckles!

ASY-M Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

This male showed primary coverts from three distinct molts, very clearly contrasting, which allowed him to be aged after second-year

Molt contrast in primary coverts of ASY-Male Northern Flicker

After noting them in the banding area for more than a week, it was nice to finally catch a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a species that isn't banded here every year.

AHY-M Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Even nicer was the fact that it was a male, told by its bold black forehead and eyebrow. Most gnatcatchers I've banded have been hatch-years and'or females that have lacked this mark.

AHY-M Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Somewhat unexpected, as none had yet been heard singing in the marsh, was a Marsh Wren. Even more unusual is that this is only the third ever banded here in spring since 1989; the first two were banded just last spring. Perhaps the habitat is improving for them?

AHY-U Marsh Wren

The first warbler of the spring season was, as perhaps expected, a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

SY-M Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the second warbler was a Common Yellowthroat. But this one was already banded, by me at this locale, on May 7, 2007 as a second-year male.

ASY-M Common Yellowthroat

Last week, four American Tree Sparrows were banded on April 23, which was the latest the species had ever been banded at Metro Beach. In keeping with the wintery conditions that just won't go away, today one of those birds was recaptured, making it the latest ever captured here and perhaps the latest ever in the park.

AHY-U American Tree Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included three calling Virginia Rails and one Sora, two somewhat late Winter Wrens, and increased numbers of Yellow Warblers.

Banding on these two days could not have been done without the help of dedicated volunteers. I especially want to thank Tom Schlack for coming out on both days, and salvaging the week from Mother Nature's bad intentions. Also thank you to David Boon and Jeremy Miller for making the best of a bad day on Wednesday.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, April 27, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:34
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 10:30 (rain forced early closure)
Hours Open: 2.50 (rain forced intermittent closures)
No. of Nets: 3.00-4.00
Net Hours: 9.00
Temperature (F): 57-64
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SSE @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 29.68-29.47
Precipitation: Intermittent Rain
No. Banded: 10 (plus 1 recapture)
No. of Species: 6
Capture Rate: 122.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 7.0 hours, 6:00-13:00): David Boon, Jeremy Miller, Tom Schlack

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Blue Jay - 2
House Wren - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)

SATURDAY, April 30, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 3.25-9.25
Net Hours: 58.938
Temperature (F): 37-55
Cloud Cover: Variable
Wind: ENE-SE @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 30.20-30.39
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 53 (plus 15 recaptures and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 20
Capture Rate: 120.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Tom Schlack.

Downy Woodpecker - 2
Northern Flicker - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
House Wren - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Hermit Thrush - 1
Ameridcan Robin - 2
European Starling - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
[Common Yellowthroat - 1 recaptured]
[American Tree Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 15
White-throated Sparrow - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 8 (plus 1 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 2
American Goldfinch - 8 (plus 10 recaptured)