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)

1 comment:

hoalawman said...

I really appreciate these reports Allen. As a west coast birder who is occasionally able to get to Vermont, Virginia, etc., it is really helpful to get a feeling for what is where. Your photo's are also incredible. The perspective of the hand wrapped around the hummer is one that we loved looking at with the grandkids. Thanks again for making the effort.