Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Metro Beach banding station report - September 27 & 29, 2012

I want to start this week's entry by announcing that, finally, I have completed my detailed report from the spring 2012 banding season. It is posted on my website at: www.amazilia.net/MetroBeachBanding; scroll down to the link for the Spring 2012 Banding Report which is in PDF format.

This past week was ideal for banding, with excellent weather and some mild fronts moving birds through the area. More than 300 birds were banded last week, with 157 on Thursday, September 27 and 163 on Saturday, September 29. Most years, the period from September 25 - October 10 sees the largest numbers of birds banded at this station, due to large influxes of White-throated Sparrows, Hermit Thrushes, and kinglets among others. Several firsts for the season were banded this week too, as expected.

Thank you to the following volunteers for making banding possible on these two days: John Bieganowski, Rebecca Blundell, Paul Bowling, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois, Dave Lancaster, and Tom Schlack.

Highlights of the 157 birds banded on Thursday, September 27 included a great diversity of 37 species, with 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which may be the last of the season at this site. Another fun species captured is shown in the two photos below, in a sort-of ID quiz, but showing the bird REALLY close! See if you can guess what species this is. The correct ID is revealed farther down in the blog.
Bird feather pattern #1

Bird feather pattern #2

Later in the season, as we are now, the only flycatcher that can be expected is the Eastern Phoebe, and we had the season's first today.
After hatch-year Eastern Phoebe

Although they are resident in the park, Tufted Titmice rarely find their way back to the banding area, and rarely into our nets, so the one captured today was one of very few we've had over the years. Clearly, the kinglet migration has begun as they were detected earlier in the week on surveys, and today both species were banded for the first time this fall.
Hatch-year female Golden-crowned Kinglet

Hatch-year female Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The last warbler to arrive is typically the Orange-crowned Warbler, and there were two of them today.
Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

And a big surprise today was yet another Connecticut Warbler, the third this fall, which is a record for any season at this locale.
Hatch-year female Connecticut Warbler

It was a good day for sparrows, and this Field Sparrow was maybe only the 11th or 12th banded here since 1989.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

Two Indigo Buntings today were unusual as most entire years only one or two are banded here. Considered a sign of winter at this latitude (42 N), Dark-eyed Juncos often arrive in late September or early October, and today we banded the first of the fall season.
Hatch-year male Dark-eyed Junco

And one of the last birds of the day was not a great rarity, or a fall arrival, but a species that is very flamboyant in-hand, and is not often caught in our songbird nets as they are big enough to escape quite often. It is the bird shown in the ID quiz above, a Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker.
Hatch-year male Northern Flicker

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a fairly decent migration of diurnal raptors, including Turkey Vulture (1), Bald Eagle (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (7), Cooper's Hawk (3), Broad-winged Hawk (71), and Red-tailed Hawk (2). We also heard two Great Horned Owls calling when we started setting up, a sign that the sun continues to rise later as our start time remains the same. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was heard near the banding area, a Marsh Wren was out near the Field Nets, and a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers was around most of the morning.

Highlights of the 163 birds banded on Saturday, September 29 were quite numerous. And it was a good day to have so many interesting birds, as the Nature Center was running wagon rides back through the nature area and right past the banding station (the nets are all well off the road, so were not disturbed). Photographer/volunteer Paul Bowling provided the following photo of one group listening to me talk about banding, stopover ecology, migration, and the importance of conserving habitat. A gold star to anyone who can identify the bird in my hand!
Banding demonstration for wagon riders.

Another photo from Paul shows how busy it was back at the Field Nets, with volunteer Rebecca Blundell (an MSU student who has been out quite often this fall) removing one of today's many White-throated Sparrows from the net.
Rebecca Blundell at the Field Nets

One of the last birds today was again a woodpecker that we don't catch very often. This one, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, is banded even less often than are flickers.
Hatch-year female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Another flycather appeared in the nets today; this one an Empidonax flycatcher. After last week's late Willow Flycatcher, today's Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was within the expected window of migration for the species in the area. Least Flycatcher is the only other Empidonax that has occurred later.
Hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

It seems that Red-breasted Nuthatches are moving south this fall, after almost none were detected south of their breeding areas last year. Two were banded today, including this nice adult male.
After hatch-year male Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creepers arrived today in force, with a good number of 5 banded, suggesting that it might be a very good fall for the species.
Hatch-year Brown Creeper

The third Carolina Wren of the fall was banded today, this one a hatch-year, suggesting that successful breeding occurred in the park this summer.
Hatch-year Carolina Wren

It was a great day for kinglets, especially Golden-crowned. But this Ruby-crowned Kinglet made today's photo highlights because of the yellow, not ruby crown. Females typically have no crown patch. This bird was aged as an adult based on its completely ossified skull and less pointy tail feathers. It was determined to be a female based on the wing length, which was shorter than it would be if it was male. Sometimes older females of some species acquire male-like characteristics, and perhaps that is the situation here. If anyone has a different opinion about this bird, I'd be very interested to hear it.
After hatch-year female Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Surprisingly late was this Veery, which normally would not be found in this area much after mid-September.
Hatch-year Veery

Brown Thrashers are not captured here every year, so it was nice to catch yet another one (the second this fall). And while this one was in the bag at the station, another was heard calling in the brush nearby.
Hatch-year Brown Thrasher

The warblers banded today were mostly expected species, though the one Bay-breasted was a bit later than expected. Sparrow numbers were even greater today than on Thursday, with many White-throated and a few White-crowned including this first adult White-crowned of the fall.
After hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included one Great Horned Owl calling briefly in the dark, several Chimney Swifts overhead, three American Pipits flying over the marsh, and a single Pine Siskin flying over.

A non-bird highlight was this Fiery Skipper captured by Rebecca in the cool morning.
Fiery Skipper (Hylephilus phyleus)

Banding Data
THURSDAY, September 27, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:24
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 94.25
Temperature (F): 49-64
Cloud Cover: 20-70%
Wind: NE-NW @ 5-7-12 mph
Barometer: 30.26-30.27
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 157 (plus 8 recaptured and 7 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 37
Capture Rate: 182.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.00 hours, 5:00-15:00): John Bieganowski, Paul Bowling, Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack.

[Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1 released unbanded]
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Northern Flicker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Tufted Titmouse - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
[Carolina Wren - 1 recaptured]
House Wren - 4 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Winter Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 9
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Hermit Thrush - 9
Tennessee Warbler - 2
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Nashville Warbler - 15
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Palm Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Connecticut Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 1 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 4
White-throated Sparrow - 17 (plus 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 3
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
Indigo Bunting - 2
American Goldfinch - 45 (plus 3 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, September 29, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:27
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 15:00
Hours Open: 9.25
No. of Nets: 4.5-13.5
Net Hours: 116.625
Temperature (F): 46-70
Cloud Cover: 30-50%
Wind: NW-SE @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 30.10-30.00
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 163 (plus 14 recaptured and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 31
Capture Rate: 156.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.0 hours, 5:00-16:00): Rebecca Blundell, Paul Bowling, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Brown Creeper - 5
Carolina Wren - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 24 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 6
Veery - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 4
Hermit Thrush - 6 (plus 2 recaptured)
Brown Thrasher - 1
Nashville Warbler - 10 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Song Sparrow - 11 (plus 7 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 37 (plus 2 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 3
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 23 (plus 3 recaptured)

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