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)

1 comment:

Sault Boat Watcher said...

As I new to bird watching and just discovered your excellent blog.

Is the ruby-throated hummingbird the only species of hummingbird to live in Michigan?

Any hints for a newbie to birdwatching?