Saturday, August 20, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - August 15 & 18, 2011

The number of birds being banded this early in the season continues to be quite good, and this week the first migrant warblers arrived as expected, while juvenile birds of locally nesting species continue to be captured. A total of 81 birds was banded on the 18th while 70 were banded on the 15th. There were interesting birds on both days, so in that category we'll have to call it a draw.

Highlights of birds banded on Monday, August 15 included an excellent total, for so early in the season, of 9 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. As is typical for this locale in fall, the majority were hatch-year birds but two adults were banded including one female and the nice adult male below. The adult males won't be around much longer as they depart earlier than the females and immatures.

After hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

An interesting recapture was a female Hairy Woodpecker. I could tell that the band wasn't very new, but was surprised when I got home and looked it up. She was banded by me at Metro Beach on May 23, 2004 as an after third year, making her an after TENTH year now! The top photo below is from this year. Luckily, I had photographed her in 2004 as well, and that photo is the bottom photo below.

Female Hairy Woodpecker, After TENTH Year in 2011

Female Hairy Woodpecker, After Third Year in 2004

It is shaping up to be a good year for Eastern Wood-Pewees. Two were banded today, and an adult (probably female based on the very extensive brood patch) was a returnee from 2010...the first ever returnee of her species at this banding station.

After hatch-year (female?) Eastern Wood-Pewee

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are infrequently captured at Metro Beach, so this adult female (with brood patch) was nice to see. There have been a couple pairs in the park all summer.

After hatch-year female Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Continuing with last week's series of "baby pictures", we finally caught some American Robins today including mostly spotty juveniles like this one.

Hatch-year (juvenile) American Robin

The first migrant warbler of the fall season was banded today. Although they nest at a similar latitude on other nearby parts of Michigan, there is no breeding habitat for Northern Waterthrushes at Metro Beach so it is certain that this was a migrant. I have banded them as early as August 7 in other years so it isn't really unexpected by mid-August.

Hatch-year Northern Waterthrush

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included an adult Bald Eagle circling low over Point Rosa Marsh (over the Field Nets!), which headed off southeast into Lake St. Clair. And an Indigo Bunting was heard calling out in the field briefly in the morning.

Highlights of birds banded on Thursday, August 18 included two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and a Northern Flicker. It was too busy (and too many mosquitos) to allow photos of these species today. But the Warbling Vireos, of which 3 were banded today, have earned another photospot because of the number banded to date this fall. The past several years has been rather poor for all vireo species compared with the 1989-1999 data. My suspicion has been a change in the plant species composition of the undergrowth. This year, after removing a bunch of Glossy Buckthorn from the area of the Field Nets, the Alternate-leaved Dogwood has come back strong with lots of berries, probably also thanks to a wet spring and summer. The result is that these 3 Warbling Vireos today bring the season total to 17. The previous record was 13 in fall 1992 and the most recent high was 9 in fall 2009. They're clearly feeding on these dogwood berries, as evidenced by the purple poop they leave behind on my hands!

Hatch-year Warbling Vireo

Cedar Waxwings also deserve additional mention as it is shaping up to be a good fall for them too, although it is still far short of a record season. In 2009 we captured quite a few in the Field Nets as they fed on the Glossy Buckthorn berries. This year, with the buckthorn gone and the dogwood flourishing, we caught 5 waxwings today. They're also deserving of a photospot just because they're such neat birds.

After hatch-year male Cedar Waxwing

A second species of migrant warbler was banded today, in the form of a half-dozen Tennessee Warblers, all caught in the Field Nets, and all of them hatch-year birds.

Hatch-year Tennessee Warbler

And a third migrant warbler species was a single Chestnut-sided Warbler, followed by the second Northern Waterthrush of the fall.

Hatch-year Chestnut-sided Warbler

House Finches are infrequently banded at Metro Beach, as they don't often spend time in the swamp woods and marsh edge habitat of the banding area. The two banded today, added to the two on the 15th, brings the season total to four, which is the most since 2004, but several fall seasons between 1989 and 1999 had more banded.

Hatch-year House Finch

Interesting birds observed but not banded included an adult female Northern Harrier circling over the swamp woods, and good numbers of swallows including Bank Swallow.

I'd like to thank the volunteers who came out and helped on these two days. It was great to have more than the minimum of two for each day, easing the workload for everyone. Thanks to Jean Gramlich, Dave Lancaster, Gisela Lendle-King, Tom Schlack, Joan Tisdale, and Judi Wade.

Banding Data
MONDAY, August 15, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:39
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 87.50
Temperature (F): 64-75
Cloud Cover: 5-50-80%
Wind: NW @ 5-7-15 mph
Barometer: 29.93-29.96
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 70 (plus 12 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 17
Capture Rate: 97.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 6:00-15:30): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack, Judi Wade.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 9
[Hairy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Willow Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 6
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
American Robin - 6
Cedar Waxwing - 4
Yellow Warbler - 6
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 3 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 14 (plus 2 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 recaptured]
[Baltimore Oriole - 1 recaptured]
House Finch - 2
American Goldfinch - 13 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

THURSDAY, August 18, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:42
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 87.50
Temperature (F): 68-77
Cloud Cover: 20-100-20-80%
Wind: SW-SE @ 1-3-12 mph
Barometer: 30.04-29.98
Precipitation: Trace
No. Banded: 81 (plus 17 recaptures and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 18
Capture Rate: 114.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 6:00-16:00): Jean Gramlich, Gisela Lendle-King, Joan Tisdale.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Northern Flicker - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 3
American Robin - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 5
Tennessee Warbler - 6
Yellow Warbler - 5
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Song Sparrow - 12 (plus 9 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 8 (plus 3 recaptured)
House Finch - 2
American Goldfinch - 24 (plus 4 recaptured)

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