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)

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