Friday, September 30, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - September 23-29, 2011

The week of September 19-23 was scheduled by the Metro Park for the spraying of herbicide to control the invasive Common Reed (Phragmites australis), for the third fall season in a row. Despite being sprayed before, there was still some that had grown up adjacent to the banding area as can be seen in the photo below.

Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

The spraying was done on the 21st and 22nd, but unfortunately banding got rained out on Friday the 23rd. Thanks very much to Dave Lancaster and Tom Schlack for making the drive to the park and waiting it out for 3 hours for the rain that didn't stop; or even let up. Hopefully this will count toward their volunteer hours that the park tracks for all of us.

Banding was also scheduled for Friday the 24th and Sunday the 25th, and both of those days went off quite well, and we also banded later in the week on Thursday the 29th. Rain was threatening on all of these days, thanks to a stationary weather system that was the same one that rained us out on the 23rd, but other than some fog and some very wet vegetation to walk through in the mornings, we logged three very productive banding days with 96 banded on the 24th, 145 on the 25th, and 109 on the 29th. I have not made much mention of the American Goldfinches banded this fall as they're a common species usually banded in good numbers (700+ last fall). On the 24th we banded the 300th of the season and on the 29th we banded the 400th. Clearly late September is the peak of their migration.

Hatch-year male American Goldfinch

Highlights of the 96 birds banded on Saturday, September 24 included 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a good total for late September. The hummingbird in the photo below has quite a lot of sticky white pollen on its forehead and base of the upper mandible, almost certainly from the abundant Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in the banding area.

Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Humminbird

The thrush migration has been trickling along, with far fewer Swainson's Thrushes than would be expected by this time of year, but today the first two Gray-cheeked Thrushes of the season were banded.

Hatch-year Gray-cheeked Thrush

Today also saw the first White-throated Sparrow banded, although they've been in the area for at least a week. It was a near-record day for American Goldfinches, with 53 banded.

Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single Sharp-shinned Hawk and several Chimney Swifts flying overhead, as well as a Belted Kingfisher flyover which is a species not often seen in the banding area. Additional warbler species observed included Black-throated Blue and Blackpoll, but there were not a lot of warblers in the banding area today. A calling Rose-breasted Grosbeak teased us in the morning, but never found its way into the nets.

Highlights of the 145 birds banded on Sunday, September 25 included two more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the 6th Philadelphia Vireo of the season. A Tufted Titmouse was an unusual capture for the area as well. Thrushes had clearly come in overnight, as there were many more Gray-cheeked and Swainson's, highlighted by a single Wood Thrush.

Hatch-year Wood Thrush

Warblers were also much more in evidence today, with 12 species banded. This Tennessee Warbler was interesting. You might think it is one of the warblers with wing bars, and Tennessee isn't supposed to have them. Juvenile Tennessee Warblers do have pale tips on their coverts, which some individuals retain well into the fall, making them a little more confusing than normal.

Hatch-year Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warblers were again the dominant warbler species, with 26 banded which was far from a one-day record but put thus season's total well past the previous record of 91 (in fall 2006).

Hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

And completing the trio of Oreothlypis (formerly Vermivora) warblers, the first three Orange-crowned Warblers of the fall were banded today. Compare the head pattern to the Tennessee Warbler above, and note the diagnostic bright yellow undertail coverts of this Orange-crowned.

Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

The number of Northern Parulas banded at this station each year ranges from 0-4, so it was nice to catch one today.

Hatch-year female Northern Parula

The first three Yellow-rumped Warblers of the season were right on time.

Hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the second Black-throated Green Warbler of the fall was a nice hatch-year male.

Hatch-year male Black-throated Green Warbler

Indigo Buntings are very infrequently banded at this station, typically 0-1 each year. So it was truly amazing to catch FIVE of them today.

Hatch-year male Indigo Bunting

After hatch-year female Indigo Bunting

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two fly-over American Golden-Plovers, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Brown Thrasher, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak teasing us again as it did yesterday.

Highlights of the 109 birds banded on Thursday, September 29 included 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which might be the last for the season unless we catch one next week, which is certainly possible. Both hummingbirds today were carrying considerable fat for migration, and both of them weighed more than 4 grams. Typically, without fat, they weigh about 3 grams.

After hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

An Eastern Wood-Pewee was somewhat late, though not record late, and the season's first Winter Wren was banded today.

Hatch-year Winter Wren

And it was also nice to catch a hatch-year House Wren. Numbers have been way down this year, even in summer, with less than half normal numbers banded so far (usually about 20 banded each fall) and only a single hatch-year banded in August. This suggests a poor nesting season for this species, at least in the banding area.

Hatch-year House Wren

Gray Catbird is another species that has been captured in very low numbers so far, but today made up the difference with a record 14 banded! Many banding stations catch this many catbirds all the time, but for some reason this locale has fewer of them with an average of about 20 per fall season. Today's catbirds were likely all migrants, not locally nesting, as they were all carrying significant fat loads.

Hatch-year Gray Catbird

It was another pretty good thrush day, but with Gray-cheeks (6) significantly outnumbering Swainson's (2), which almost never happens. Warblers were everywhere in the banding area today, and while 47 individuals of 10 species found the nets, there were so many more in the area that this is actually a little disappointing. Captures did include another Northern Parula as well as a good number of Nashvilles (again), the best day so far this fall for Magnolias, and single Blackpoll, Black-and-white, and American Redstart.

With 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks calling in the trees as we opened the nets, I was prepared yet again to be taunted without a capture. But, at last, this hatch-year female found her way into the Field Nets.

Hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Note that the wing linings of female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are yellow while the males are rosy-pink.

Hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Another Indigo Bunting added to the five on Sunday for a total of 6, twice the previous season record.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a fly-over Black-bellied Plover, and 3 Brown Thrashers hanging around all day, sometimes even chasing each other and one sitting in plain view eating grapes off the vine. Additional warbler species observed included Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Palm, and Bay-breasted.

Banding at this station is entirely dependent on volunteers coming out to help, and this week I appreciate very much the efforts of Terri Chapdelaine, the Charlebois family (Mike, Chris, and Jake), Stevie Kuroda, the Lau family (Harry, Rose, Tessa, and Ava), Dave Lancaster, Jeremy Miller, Tom Schlack, and Bruce Watson.

Banding Data
SATURDAY, September 24, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:21
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 93.125
Temperature (F): 48-70
Cloud Cover: 0-80-20%
Wind: Calm-SSW @ 0-5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.08-30.11
Precipitation: a.m. Fog
No. Banded: 96 (plus 12 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 119.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Terri Chapdelaine, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Ava Lau, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Tessa Lau.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 12
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Nashville Warbler - 4
American Redstart - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 3 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 6 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 53 (plus 1 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)

SUNDAY, September 25, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:22
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 94.25
Temperature (F): 58-72
Cloud Cover: 10-80-20%
Wind: ENE-SE @ 3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.11-30.02
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 145 (plus 12 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 25
Capture Rate: 168.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 5:00-15:30): Stevie Kuroda, Jeremy & Heather Miller (3.5 hrs), Bruce Watson.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Tufted Titmouse - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 7 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Swainson's Thrush - 8
Wood Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 8
Orange-crowned Warbler - 3
Nashville Warbler - 26 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Northern Parula - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 6 (plus 3 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 6
Indigo Bunting - 5
American Goldfinch - 47 (plus 4 recaptured)
THURSDAY, September 29, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:27
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 86.375
Temperature (F): 55-64
Cloud Cover: 100-50-100%
Wind: SE-SW @ 1-3-12 mph
Barometer: 29.78-29.72
Precipitation: a.m. Fog
No. Banded: 109 (plus 17 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 162.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Mike Charlebois (6.0 hrs), Dave Lancaster, Jeremy Miller, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 6 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Gray Catbird - 14 (plus 1 recaptured)
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 17 (plus 3 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Northern Parula - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 13
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Black-and-white Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Redstart - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 22 (plus 7 recaptured)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - September 14 & 17, 2011

This past week saw a slight decline in the action with an average day on the 14th, and another upsurge on the 17th (10th best day ever). Warblers continue to move through in fairly good numbers, along with better than average numbers of flycatchers and vireos. Thrushes are still trickling through in lower than expected numbers. Sparrow migration officially began this week.

Highlights of the 55 birds banded on Wednesday, September 14 included 7 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the season's first Lincoln's Sparrow, a migrant from farther north, which kicks off the sparrow migration season.

Hatch-year Lincoln's Sparrow

I have probably said this in every blog posting where I feature this species, but it is probably my favorite sparrow. It has a very beautiful, almost thrush-like song that unfortunately is not heard in the banding area as we're 100 miles south of the breeding range, but the subtle colors and fine markings are quite nice to behold.

A few warblers were banded today too, but nothing new. One highlight for me concerns a common species but an infrequently seen plumage at the banding station. This fall has been a good one for Red-winged Blackbirds as some years we don't even band 10 of them (over 100 in spring is more normal). We're up to 40+ so far this fall, though most have been striped juveniles and adult females. This bird was an adult male in the middle of molting. The fresh feathers on the head and back reminded me of a Rusty Blackbird.

After second-year male Red-winged Blackbird

The completely red shoulders suggest to me that this was an after second-year, but the pale-fringed secondary coverts, secondaries, and tertials suggest that it might be a second-year bird.

After second-year male Red-winged Blackbird

But in the wing, the older, browner secondaries don't seem to have any pale edging so this is almost certainly an after second-year bird. The brown fringes on the head will likely wear off over the winter and by spring this bird will be all black, as expected on an after second-year. I'm willling to be corrected on this by anyone with more expertise on blackbird molt.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included the pair of Great Horned Owls calling to each other before dawn, two different Northern Harriers overhead as well as no less than SIX migrating Sharp-shinned Hawks. One of them, an immature male, was heard rustling from the cattails near the banding station before it burst out from ground level, and circled immediately back into the swamp woods. A very odd behavior, even for a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I'm more used to Cooper's Hawks running along the ground into brushpiles after birds, but haven't experienced anything like this with a Sharp-shinned before.

Highlights of the 164 birds banded on Saturday, September 17 included another day with a record-tying 30 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds! This brings the total this fall to 142, well over the previous season record of 92. The pattern today was definitely segregated with hatch-year males dominating in the early morning to mid-morning, and hatch-year females dominating in late morning to early afternoon.

Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Some of the hummers today may have been recently hatched, as they has somewhat short bills (especially the males), and would exhibit an in-hand posture resembling begging behavior while in the nest. The bird in the photo above is starting to do this, where they point their bills straight up, and sometimes even make begging calls. Some of the hummers today had a good amount of fat on them, so were definitely in good condition for migration. Some weighed more than 4 grams (about 3 grams is normal without fat).

The only flycatchers today were the first two Yellow-bellied Flycatchers of the fall. They are as easily identified as Least Flycatchers. Yellow-bellieds have yellow on the throat and belly (almost all Empids have some yellow on their bellies), a large head, more greenish upperparts, and a broad, complete pale yellowish eye ring. They also seem to have a more orange lower mandible than the other eastern Empids.

Hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

It was also a great day for Philadelphia Vireos. Last week I was happy when we caught two in one day, but today we had three! Since 2004, I have not had more than one in any fall season. These were all out in the Field Nets, where once again we removed Glossy Buckthorn and the dogwoods are coming back very nicely.

Hatch-year Philadelphia Vireo

A total of 66 warblers of 9 species was banded today, but Nashville Warblers dominated with 41. This is just 7 short of the all-time one-day record for the species here. So, although more American Goldfinches were banded today (the 1000th bird of the season banded today was probably a goldfinch), we still thought of this as the "bird du jour".

After hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

Among the warblers banded today was a first of the season, Blackburnian Warbler. Normally, we only band a few Blackburnians at this station, and when we do it is usually during the last half of August. So the one today, though the first of the season, was one of the later ones to be banded here.

Hatch-year female Blackburnian Warbler

Another Lincoln's Sparrow today reinforced the beginning of sparrow migration.

Interesting birds observed today but not banded included a single "kettle" of 100+ Broad-winged Hawks that came from the east and headed southwest just when the overcast broke up around noon. A Northern Harrier flushed about 80 Red-winged Blackbirds out of the dead ash tree in the center of the Field Nets, and a Brown Creeper was heard calling briefly, the first to arrive this fall. The pair of Great Horned Owls were calling to each other again, and a Carolina Wren sang from a far corner of the banding area while a Marsh Wren gave its twanging call from the cattails, closer to the nets.

Banding could not have been conducted this week without the help of very capable volunteers including Mike Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Terri Chapdelaine, Jean Gramlich, Stevie Kuroda, Judi Wade, and Bruce Watson. Thank you!

Banding Data
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:10
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): 54-70
Cloud Cover: 20-50%
Wind: NW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.03-30.05
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 55 (plus 10 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 76.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Mike Charlebois, Tom Schlack, Judi Wade.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 7
House Wren - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 2
Nashville Warbler - 5
Magnolia Warbler - 3
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 4 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 2 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 17 (plus 4 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, September 17, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:14
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 91.75
Temperature (F): 53-63
Cloud Cover: 100-50%
Wind: ENE @ 5-10 mph
Barometer: 30.41-30.41
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 164 (plus 10 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 22
Capture Rate: 192.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 5:00-15:00): Jacob Charlebois (3.5 hrs), Mike Charlebois (3.5 hrs), Terri Chapdelaine (10.0 hrs), Jean Gramlich (10.0 hrs), Stevie Kuroda (3.5 hrs), Bruce Watson (3.5 hrs).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 30 (tied last weeks record!) (plus 2 released unbanded)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 2
Philadelphia Vireo - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Wren - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 41 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 7
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 7 (plus 3 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 3
Song Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 4
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 46 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 30 (plus 4 recaptured)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - week of September 5-10, 2011

Banding last week was definitely affected by the passing of Tropical Storm Lee, which sent a spiraling arm of rain from New England west across southern Ontario into southern Michigan lasting for several days. It was a very odd weather pattern for this time of year. On Thursday, and to a lesser extent on Friday, conditions in the banding area resembled a classing spring "fallout" with warblers everywhere. It seemed to me that perhaps some migrants that would normally be moving east of us may have been pushed west, and those coming from the north ran into the wall of rain and had to land. Rain prevented banding on Thursday but Friday was the 8th best banding day ever at Metro Beach even though due to a shortage of volunteers we set up 9.5 nets instead of 13.5 nets. A third day of banding was conducted this week, on Saturday September 10th in support of a "Monarchs and Hummingbirds" program put on by the park's nature center, which also turned out to be very successful, once the rain stopped and allowed us to set the station up.

THE WARBLERS HAVE ARRIVED!!! Most years there is a significant migration of songbirds, especially warblers, between the 8th and 12th of September. Some totals from this period in past fall seasons include 179 (Sep 8, 2010), 83 (Sep 8, 2008), 79 (Sep 9, 2007), and 177 (Sep 10, 2006). This week nicely followed that pattern.

Highlights of the 92 birds banded on Monday, September 5 (Labor Day) included 8 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and 2 Red-eyed Vireos (less scarce this year than most). Most often, hatch-year Red-eyed Vireos are captured in fall, which show brown eyes, but one of today's birds was an adult.

After hatch-year Red-eyed Vireo

The 3rd Cape May Warbler of the season (the most since before 2004) was a nice capture but it was too busy at the time to take photos. The first Palm Warbler of the season was caught at a more convenient moment.

Hatch-year Palm Warbler

Three more Blackpoll Warblers were captured today and the first Bay-breasted Warbler of the season as well.

After hatch-year female Bay-breasted Warbler

If you look carefully at the photo above, you may see that the bird's feet are gray, not yellow as they are in Blackpoll Warbler. This field mark is touted as a good distinguishing character to tell the two species apart, but often the feet are difficult to see, resulting in many of these warblers going down into birders' field notebooks as "Baypoll". Having both species in-hand today presents another good reminder that it isn't a good idea to rely on just one field mark. Look back at the photo of the Palm Warbler above. They have yellow feet too! As do Magnolia, Black-thoated Blue, Cape May, and other warbler species not very similar to Blackpoll. The composite photo below shows a view often experienced by birders, but the ID information present in "warbler butts" is often ignored.

Hatch-year Blackpoll (left) and Bay-breasted (right) Warblers

Overall coloration can be helpful clue in telling these two "most confusinng fall warblers" apart. Both species are greenish on the upperparts, but Blackpoll tends to be pale yellow while Bay-breasted tends to be buffy. On the undertail coverts, shown here, Bay-breasted is still buffy but Blackpoll is typically bright white. Also note that these coverts are longer on the Blackpoll, giving it a somewhat shorter-tailed appearance from below. There are also differences in the shape and size of the white spots on the tail feathers, but they'd have to hold very still to assess that, and they rarely do!

Another first for the fall was two Black-and-white Warblers, presenting no identification challenges.

Hatch-year male Black-and-white Warbler

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a flyover Solitary Sandpiper, a singing Warbling Vireo, and a Blackburnian Warbler.

Highlights of the 169 birds banded on Friday, September 9 included a single day record of 30 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (previous record was 27 on September 10, 2006. It was also a good day for Least Flycatchers, with 8 banded.

Hatch-year Least Flycatcher

It is always nice to have an easy flycatcher to identify for a change. The Least's broad, bright white eye ring with a pointed extension behind (teardrop) on a grayish head can be confused with no other Empidonax species at this locale. A species that is typically caught in low numbers is the Black-throated Green Warbler. Since we missed it entirely in spring, it was nice to catch the first one of the fall today.

Hatch-year male Black-throated Green Warbler

Arriving a little later than expected were the first migrant Ovenbirds of the fall season.

Hatch-year Ovenbird

Mourning Warblers are an infrequently captured, early migrant, so it was nice to band two more today. Compare the lack of any breast markings on this hatch-year female with the hatch-year male posted here two weeks ago. Note also the narrow whitish eye arcs, not present on spring birds, and not completely encircling the eye (as in Connecticut which also has a larger bill).

Hatch-year female Mourning Warbler

The last highlight, and the last bird of the day, was another Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The pink wing linings clearly indicate that this is a male.

Hatch-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Two weeks ago, another Rose-beasted Grosbeak presented an interesting study of molt. This bird's molt was interesting as well, though thanks to an email exchange with Peter Pyle (author of the bander's ID guide), it is not as confusing. Clearly, with all brown primaries and secondaries, it is a hatch-year bird. It has molted its greater secondary coverts but I'm not sure what the proper terminology would be for this limited molt (post-juvenal? pre-basic?).

Hatch-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a calling Great Horned Owl before dawn, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a singing Carolina Wren (they've moved away from the banding area the past couple years, but are still in the park), a calling Wood Thrush, and a Canada Warbler.

Highlights of the 62 birds banded on Saturday, September 10, after we waited in the car for the heavy rain to stop, included 10 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This was very appropriate as this was the "Monarchs and Hummingbirds" program day, with events at the nature center and one of the staff shuttling visitors the quarter mile down to the banding area so they could see hummingbirds being banded up close. As luck would have it, the season's 100th Ruby-throated Hummingbird was banded today, followed by 5 more that brought the season total to a record 105 (previous record was 94 in 2007.

100th Ruby-throated Hummingbird (hatch-year male) of season

Few hummingbirds nest in the park, so at this season it is mostly migrants passing through. The habitat is ideal for them to stop over during their diurnal movements to refuel on the abundand Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), also known as Touch-me-not. The blooms were only moderately abundant during August but since the beginning of September there has been a burst of flowers providing the best display I've ever seen here.

Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Each flower is tubular, and perfectly configured to deposit pollen on the foreheads of hummingbirds, making them an important pollinator of Jewelweed.

Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

In addition to focusing on hummingbirds for the public event, other birds were banded too, with the main highlight being two Philadelphia Vireos. Only three have been banded since 2004, one each in fall 2008, 2009, and 2010, while a total of 48 were banded between 1989-2000 (44 in fall).

Hatch-year Philadelphia Vireo

Having a "bussed in" audience allowed me to get all worked up explaining things like molt in one of the commonest species (200+ banded so far this fall) like the American Goldfinch I'm holding below.

Allen Chartier with American Goldfinch

Of course I enjoy talking about migrants more, and the importance of the banding area at Metro Beach as a resting and refueling stop for species like this Ovenbird. I was probably wondering where my reading glasses went about a minute after this photo was taken...

Allen Chartier with Ovenbird

The banding volunteers (Joan and Tom) were eager to share their field guides with visitors so that they could learn how to use field marks to identify birds.

Magnolia Warbler helping with field guide ID

Of course a highlight for the participants, "kids" of all ages, was the opportunity to release a banded bird.

Sebastian Bartley releasing a Black-throated Blue Warbler

Hannah Bartley releasing an American Goldfinch

Rose Armstrong releasing an American Goldfinch

Sebastian Bartley releasing Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Banding on these three days could not have been conducted without the outstanding assistance of several volunteers: Stevie Kuroda, Kathy McDonald, Tom Schlack, Joan Tisdale, Judi Wade, and Bruce Watson. Thank you!

I would also like to thank Lee Bartley for allowing me to use several of her photos on this blog. And thank you to Hannah and Sebastian Bartley, and Rose Armstrong, for giving me permission to use photos of them on this blog.

Banding Data
MONDAY, September 5, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:01
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 90.625
Temperature (F): 60-63
Cloud Cover: 70-100%
Wind: N @ 7-10-20 mph
Barometer: 29.96-30.07
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 92 (plus 12 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 22
Capture Rate: 119.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Stevie Kuroda, Tom Schlack, Bruce Watson.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 8 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Red-eyed Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 3
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 2
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Cape May Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 2
Palm Warbler - 1
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 3
Black-and-white Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 4
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Song Sparrow - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 2 recaptured]
Red-winged Blackbird - 6
American Goldfinch - 45 (plus 9 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

FRIDAY, September 9, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:05
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.50
No. of Nets: 3.50-9.50
Net Hours: 50.75
Temperature (F): 64-75
Cloud Cover: 100-60%
Wind: NE @ 3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.01-30.32
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 169 (plus 8 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 26
Capture Rate: 350.7 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Kathy McDonald, Judi Wade (5.5 hours)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 30 (record)
Willow Flycatcher - 1
["Traill's" Flycatcher - 1 recaptured]
Least Flyucatcher - 8
Red-eyed Vireo - 4
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 13 (plus 1 recaptured)
Nashville Warbler - 23 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 5
Magnolia Warbler - 10 (plus 1 recaptured)
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 5
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Bay-breasted Warbler - 2
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Black-and-white Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Ovenbird - 4
Mourning Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 8
Song Sparrow - 4
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 5
House Finch - 1
American Goldfinch - 30 (plus 4 recaptured)

SATURDAY, September 10, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:06
Time Open (E.S.T.): 7:45 (rain delayed opening)
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 14:30
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 4.50-13.50
Net Hours: 81.625
Temperature (F): 63-75
Cloud Cover: 100-40%
Wind: Calm-NE-SE @ 0-3-7 mph
Barometer: 30.06-30.07
Precipitation: Rain (5:00-7:30)
No. Banded: 62 (plus 14 recaptured and 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 98.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours, 5:00-16:00): Stevie Kuroda (2 hours), Tom Schlack, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson (2 hours).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 10 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Philadelphia Vireo - 2
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Nashville Warbler - 3
Magnolia Warbler - 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blackpoll Warbler- 2
Ovenbird - 4
[Common Yellowthroat - 2 recaptured]
Wilson's Warbler - 3
Red-winged Blackbird - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[House Finch - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 25 (plus 7 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)