Sunday, October 23, 2011

Metro Beach banding report - October 17 & 21, 2011

It was another interesting week for banding at Metro Beach. Other than the two banding days on Monday (Oct 17) and Friday (Oct 21), it was pretty wet and windy. Monday's weather was quite nice for mid-October, and we captured a species that is the first ever banded at this station. Friday was a bit cooler, though not unseasonal, with just a trace of mist for a couple brief periods, and an all-time record number of birds banded for one day here (224).

Highlights of the 67 birds banded on Monday, October 17 had to include the first bird captured, an Eastern Screech-Owl, the first ever banded at Metro Beach, and the 111th species for the cumulative banding species list since 2004 (not including fledgling Great Horned Owls banded by another bander elsewhere in the park each year).

Hatch-year Eastern Screech-Owl

Since 2009, I have been setting up an audio-lure during late October since our start time at 6 a.m. (daylight time) allows 45-60 minutes before first light to attract owls. Our primary target is Northern Saw-whet Owls, which we've not captured yet; possibly because we're too late in the morning for them, and maybe too early in their migration. But we'll keep trying this year too. But this screech-owl was brought in with a screech-owl tape, and is our first success.

Hatch-year Eastern Screech-Owl

Three species of warbler were banded today; Nashville (1), Yellow-rumped (2), and Palm (2). One of the Palm Warblers had a fair bit of yellow on the underparts. I am not experienced enough with fall birds to say if it was the eastern (Yellow) subspecies, but a bird very similar to this one was posted to the Wing Island Bird Banding Station blog, where they have more experience with Yellow Palm Warblers as they're located on Cape Cod, Massachussetts.

Hatch-year (Yellow?) Palm Warbler

After being observed on surveys in the park last week, the first Fox Sparrows of the season were banded today.

Hatch-year Fox Sparrow

Likewise, Dark-eyed Juncos have been around for at least a week in small numbers, but the first of the season was banded today.

Hatch-year female Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco

Interesting birds observed but not banded included 3 Red-tailed Hawks, diving up and down, and screaming at each other, two Eastern Phoebes, 3 Winter Wrens, a Marsh Wren out near the Field Nets, a very late adult male American Redstart, and a flyover Pine Siskin. One frustration of the day was a male Eastern Towhee that was in the net on our last round before closing, but it got away before I was able to get to it. There were at least two towhees in the banding area all day today.

Highlights of the record 224 birds banded on Friday, October 21 included the second Blue-headed Vireo of the season and a very good total of 9 Brown Creepers (the record is 11 for one day). I am still measuring the length of the buffy tip on the outermost primary covert, and there does seem to be a correlation to those that I can age by skull as hatch-year with a small buffy tip. One bird today had the smallest buffy tips observed so far this season (almost nonexistent), as seen in the photo below. There do seem to be some intermediates though, with apparently more than two different patterns on these feathers.

Hatch-year Brown Creeper

Carolina Wrens are occasionally banded in small numbers at Metro Beach, as they do nest here although they move around a lot. But after a run of banding a few almost every spring and fall from 2005-2008, none has been banded since fall 2008...until today.

Hatch-year Carolina Wren

Today saw the best influx of kinglets so far this season, but numbers are still below average. Hermit Thrushes definitely contributed to the record number of birds banded today, although the 19 banded today is far from the one day record for the species of 72 set in October 2009.

Hatch-year Hermit Thrush

A Gray Catbird was somewhat late. A single Nashville Warbler was getting late, and 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers pushed the season total to nearly double the previous record of 33 set in fall 2010. The clear "bird of the day" was White-throated Sparrow. In a typical year, there is a big influx around October 5-10, but until now numbers have been far behind what is expected. Today's record of 96 (previous record was 68) put us up into the "normal" range, though the tardiness of this influx is notable.

After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

The 11 White-crowned Sparrows today paled in comparison, but it was only one short of the record of 12 on October 7, 2007. The 26 Song Sparrows was also the highest so far this fall, but 9 short of the record, and the 22 Swamp Sparrows was a record, beating the 21 on April 27, 2007 and the fall record of 17 set in 2008 and 2009 (perhaps notably both these dates were three weeks earlier in the season).

And after hearing Eastern Towhees all day in the banding area (up to 6 may have been present), we caught one late in the day, bringing the species total for the season up to 77, which ties the record set in fall 2008.

Hatch-year female Eastern Towhee

Interesting birds observed but not banded included an American Woodcock flushed from the vicinity of the Swamp Nets while it was still dark, two flyover Eastern Bluebirds (very infrequent in this park), a calling Black-throated Blue Warbler, and a singing Purple Finch back in the swamp to the north of the banding area.

Banding could not have been done at all this week without the commitment and capabilities of Dave Lancaster and Tom Schlack, who came out on both days, and Marie McGee who came out for most of the day on Friday. Thank you!

Banding Data
MONDAY, October 17, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:47
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.50
Net Hours: 89.00
Temperature (F): 48-64
Cloud Cover: 0-10%
Wind: WSW @ 7-10-15 mph
Barometer: 29.76-29.76
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 67 (plus 17 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 20
Capture Rate: 96.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 6
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Robin - 2
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2
Palm Warbler - 2
[Eastern Towhee - 1 released unbanded]
Fox Sparrow - 3
Song Sparrow - 4 (plus 5 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 12 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 15 (plus 1 released unbanded)
(Eastern) White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (plus 4 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
[Red-winged Blackbird - 3 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)

FRIDAY, October 21, 2011
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:51
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 5.00-13.50
Net Hours: 88.25
Temperature (F): 45-50
Cloud Cover: 100-80-100%
Wind: W-WNW @ 7-10-12 mph
Barometer: 29.86-30.06
Precipitation: Trace
No. Banded: RECORD 224 (plus 14 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 21
Capture Rate: 273.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours; 5:00-16:00): Dave Lancaster, Marie McGee (7.25 hrs), Tom Schlack.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 9
Carolina Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 11
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 9
Hermit Thrush - 19 (plus 1 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 8
Eastern Towhee - 1
Fox Sparrow - 2
Song Sparrow - 26
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 22 [record] (plus 1 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 96 [record] (plus 3 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 11 (plus 4 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)

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