Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Metro Beach banding station report - April 25 & 28, 2012

The spring conditions have still not returned to the unseasonal warmth we had in March, but instead has been slightly on the cool side. We managed to band for two full days this week, without any weather issues. Most of the birds banded were locally breeding species, with only a few migrants coming in, including the first warbler of the season captured on the 28th. Species diversity is gradually increasing as expected.

Many thanks to the following volunteers who made banding on these two days possible: Mary Buchowski, Karen Fenwick, Wayne Hoch, Kevin Rysiewski, Tom Schlack, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 73 birds banded on Wednesday, April 25 included the first two Blue Jays of the season. Blue Jay migration has definitely begun as flocks have been seen going over the park to the north and northeast for the past few days.

Second-year Blue Jay

The second Winter Wren of the spring was also captured today, along with the season's first House Wren. Both were unusual in that neither was heard singing in the banding area today.

After hatch-year House Wren

And after hearing them high overhead for the past couple weeks, finally a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher came down low enough to be caught in our nets. Only about a dozen of these tiny birds have been banded here since 2004.

After hatch-year male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The males can be told by their bold black eyebrow.

After hatch-year male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

But clearly the "best" bird of the day was the Rusty Blackbird, which was only the 5th banded here since 2004 and only the 11th since 1989. The dull slate gray plumage indicated that the bird was female.

Second-year female Rusty Blackbird

Interesting birds observed but not banded included both Sora and Common Moorhen calling from the marshes north of the banding road, as well as flyover Purple Martins. A dozen Ruby-crowned Kinglets and 15 or so Yellow-rumped Warblers in the area should have resulted in a capture, but no dice. Singing Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Waterthrush were also avoiding our nets.

Highlights of the 36 birds banded on Saturday, April 28 included two House Wrens, a Winter Wren, and a somewhat late Brown Creeper. Among the 27 birds recaptured today was the first warbler of the season, a female Yellow Warbler that had been banded in May 2011. It is a little unusual to recapture a female before any males have been recaptured. Indeed, very few males were even in the banding area.

After hatch-year female Yellow Warbler

It was also interesting to catch White-throated Sparrows of the two color morphs, "tan-striped" and "white-striped", based on the color of the stripes behind the yellow spot and in the center of the crown. These variations have nothing to do with age or sex. The brightness of the yellow spot seems to vary independently of color morph, though tan-striped seem to have duller spots more often.

After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow
(white-striped morph)

After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow
(tan-striped morph)

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included two flyover Common Loons, the first Least Flycatcher of the season, and a briefly singing Northern Waterthrush.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, April 25, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:36
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): 39-59
Cloud Cover: 10-70%
Wind: NW-SE @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.79-92.22
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 73 (plus 16 recaptured and 6 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 17
Capture Rate: 100.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Mary Buchowski, Kevin Rysiewski, Tom Schlack.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Blue Jay - 2
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1
Hermit Thrush - 4
American Robin - 7 (plus 1 recaptured)
European Starling - 2
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 24 (plus 6 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 5
Red-winged Blackbird - 14 (plus 5 recaptured and 5 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 3
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 5

SATURDAY, April 28, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:32
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: 89.625
Temperature (F): 38-48
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: ENE-ESE @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.66-29.67
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 36 (plus 27 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 71.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Karen Fenwick, Wayne Hoch, Blanche Wicke.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 2
Winter Wren - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
American Robin - 6 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Yellow Warbler - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 6 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 8 (plus 12 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 2
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 4
American Goldfinch - 3

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