Monday, May 28, 2012

Metro Beach banding station report - May 24 & 26, 2012

Late season migrants including certain warbler species as well as Empidonax flycatchers were banded these two days, as expected. Thrushes, other than Hermit, have had a very poor showing so far this spring, with Gray-cheeked absent so far (though the only ones banded last spring were on May 31). The weather cooperated nicely on the 24th and we dodged rain most of the day on the 26th, having to close the nets for a little over an hour in late morning. Late in the season I also expect to catch the first hatch-year birds of the year, but the two species involved this week were not the expected one; no young American Robins banded yet. Perhaps next week.

Thank you to the following banding assistants, without whom banding could not have been conducted on these two days: Terri Chapdelaine, Brandon Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Marie McGee, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 41 birds banded on Thursday, May 24 included two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the first of the unexpected hatch-year birds, a European Starling. Most banding stations release this species unbanded, but the protocol of my predecessor (Ellie Cox, recently deceased), was to band them, so I do too.

Hatch-year European Starling

Males of many species precede females in migration, in order to claim the best territories. So when females start showing up, it is an indication that the migration is winding down. Magnolia Warblers have a more prolonged spring migration than many other warblers, with individuals showing up in early May and sometimes with females as late as early June.

After second-year female Magnolia Warbler

A single Nashville Warbler, which is mainly an earlier migrant, was a surprise today. Mourning Warblers are typically late migrants, and I have not banded one earlier than May 14. Today's efforts netted both male and female Mourning Warblers.

Second-year male Mourning Warbler

Second-year female Mourning Warbler

And the second hatch-year captured today was a stubby-looking Common Grackle. Their eyes start out dark and gradually turn yellow over the course of several months; a few have darkish eyes even into April of the following year.

Hatch-year Common Grackle

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a singing Willow Flycatcher out in the field, two Marsh Wrens in the cattails out beyond the Field Nets, a persistently singing American Redstart that stayed very high up in the trees, and a briefly seen White-crowned Sparrow which was a bit tardy.

Highlights of the 60 birds banded on Saturday, May 26 included a recaptured Eastern Wood-Pewee that I banded here as an after hatch-year on August 23, 2009. I believe this is the first returnee I've ever had of this species. Another unbanded pewee was also in the nets today.

After hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

It was a good day for Empidonax flycatchers, with 11 individuals captured, which included 4 that keyed out to Alder, 3 that keyed out to Willow, 2 that had to be left as "Traill's", and a "Traill's" recapture that had been banded earlier this spring.

After hatch-year Alder Flycatcher

Relatively easier to identify was a single Least Flycatcher. An often cited field mark for this species is the "notched" tail, which this individual did show. But in my experience, only about 25% of Least's I've banded show it. In-hand, it is easier to assess the smaller size, big grayish head with bold white eye ring contrasting with an olive back, and dirty white throat (Willow/Alder always have clean white throats).

After hatch-year Least Flycatcher

After hatch-year Least Flycatcher

Cedar Waxwings were captured again today, which is unusual for this locale in spring. Sexing these birds can be a little tricky. Birds lacking red waxy tips on the secondaries are females, but two today both had 7 waxy tips on each wing, but one was male and one was female.

After hatch-year Cedar Waxwing, waxy tips

A better way to sex them is by the amount of black on the chin and throat, with males having more and females having less.

After hatch-year male Cedar Waxwing

After hatch-year female Cedar Waxwing

Two more Mourning Warblers were banded today, and this nice male just had to make the photo highlights. It looks like he's singing, but actually he's just waiting for me to put my finger near him so he can bite it. Again.

After second-year male Mourning Warbler

Wilson's Warblers typically peak in their migration in late May, and today's 7 banded was the most so far, which included mostly males but a couple of females as well.

After second-year male Wilson's Warbler

Second-year female Wilson's Warbler

It was odd hearing a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing in the banding area today, as they probably don't breed here and we haven't heard one for at least two weeks. The one we caught may or may not have been one in the same. This male was easily aged as second-year by the clearly contrasting wing feathers, with juvenile brown mixed in with adult black, as well as the incompletely black head.

Second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a Spotted Sandpiper that came within 5 feet of being the first of its species banded here (just flew over the top of the Field Nets), a briefly calling Sora, and what was probably that same American Redstart from Thursday singing high in the trees, managing to avoid getting caught again!

Banding Data
THURSDAY, May 24, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:03
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 87.50
Temperature (F): 63-79
Cloud Cover: 10-0%
Wind: SE @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.96-29.95
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 41 (plus 14 recaptured)
No. of Species: 18
Capture Rate: 62.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.00 hours, 5:00-15:00): Dave Lancaster, Steve Mangas, Marie McGee, Tom Schlack.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
American Robin - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1
European Starling - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 5 (plus 6 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Mourning Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 10
Common Grackle - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Baltimore Oriole - 1
American Goldfinch - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)

SATURDAY, May 26, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:02
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45 (brief rain at close)
Hours Open: 5.75 (closed for rain, 8:45-10:00)
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 70.625
Temperature (F): 64-64
Cloud Cover: 100-90-100%
Wind: NW-SE @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 30.20-30.26
Precipitation: Intermittent rain
No. Banded: 60 (plus 12 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 19
Capture Rate: 106.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Terri Chapdelaine, Brandon Charlebois (6.5 hrs), Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda (2 hrs), Edie Schmitz (6 hrs), Bruce Watson (2 hrs), Blanche Wicke.

Downy Woodpecker - 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Alder Flycatcher - 4
Willow Flycatcher - 3
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Least Flycatcher - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
Swainson's Thrush - 1
American Robin - 3
[Gray Catbird - 1 recaptured]
Cedar Waxwing - 3
[Yellow Warbler - 2 recaptured]
Mourning Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 7
[Song Sparrow - 2 recaptured]
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 10 (plus 2 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 14 (plus 2 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 2

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