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)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have aged a number of red-winged blackbirds in September in Ontario. Unfortunately, the birds are euthanized, but that means that I get a good look at the skull and other traits. That is DEFINITELY an AHY male. Good call, and it's nice to see the reasoning with just the plumage.