Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Metro Beach banding station report - October 18 & 20, 2012

The two days of banding this past week were quite different. On Thursday, October 18 the rain arrived in late morning, curtailing our efforts and resulting in one of the lowest number of captures of the entire fall. And the strong southest wind, which had been a near-constant for about 10 days, prevented opening four of the 13 nets and resulted in a leaf to bird ratio of about 500 to 1. But despite the low number of captures, there were some interesting birds just before we had to close for the day. On Saturday, October 20, it was overcast all day and looked like it was threatening rain, but nothing fell other than a few minutes of mist a couple times in the morning. The results were spectacular, with the second largest number of captures ever at this station.

Many thanks to the following volunteers for making banding possible on these two days: Paul Bowling, Charlotte Calhoun (visiting from Wisconsin), Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Anne Ross, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 19 birds banded on Thursday, October 18 included the first Blue-headed Vireo of the season. Most years the first one is captured at least two or even three weeks earlier than this, and very few are captured after this date.
Hatch-year Blue-headed Vireo

There were still a few warblers coming through, of the expected later migrating species including Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Palm Warbler
Hatch-year male Yellow-rumped Warbler

Hatch-year male Palm Warbler

Most fall seasons there are 0 to 1 Field Sparrows captured, so it was nice to see a second one of the fall today.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

A non-bird highlight included a small, possibly recently hatched, Eastern Garter Snake that was browner than most I've seen. There have been many more snakes along the banding road this fall than I can ever remember.
Eastern Garter Snake

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a few late Chimney Swifts heading south, and an Eastern Phoebe. After the station was taken down, a few of the volunteers and I drove to the North Marsh to check out the ducks, as the rain and wind increased in intensity. We did see a few Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, Gadwall, and Green-winged Teal along with the numerous Mallards and Wood Ducks. Two Northern Harriers interacting with each other over the marsh were fun to watch.

Highlights of the 222 birds banded on Saturday, October 20 included, well, a near-record of 222 birds banded. Wow! Only one day in the history of this station had more birds captured, 224 on October 21, 2011...almost exactly a year ago. Last year's record also included 13 recaptures for a total of 237 captured. But this year, an amazing 43 recaptures came into the nets for a higher overall total of 265 captured.

There were some interesting similarities and some surprising differences between these two big days. Last year's record was primarily due to a single day record for White-throated Sparrows (96), while this year there were only 15 of those. This year's high numbers were due primarily to the large number of Golden-crowned Kinglets (36), and single day record numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets (35; previous record was 34) and American Goldfinches (62; 42 in the Upland nets in one net run!). All of these were in much lower numbers last year; 11, 9, and 3 respectively. There were more Hermit Thrushes in 2011 (19) than this year (5). Both years had near-record numbers of Brown Creepers (9 in 2011 and 10 this year; the record is 11 on October 30, 2006). Among the less frequently banded species, it is surprising that both years had single Blue-headed Vireo, Carolina Wren, and late Gray Catbird. Species that were captured on the big day in 2011, but not this year, included Nashville Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Fox Sparrow (2), Lincoln's Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco.

Species captured on this year's big day but not last year included the second Mourning Dove of the fall, and 3 Black-capped Chickadees. The two Red-breasted Nuthatches brought the season's total to a record of 9 (the previous record was 4 in 2007).
Hatch-year female Red-breasted Nuthatch

Two White-breasted Nuthatches were also captured today, one new band and one recapture. This species only rarely finds it way into the nets back in the swamp woods and cattail marsh transition field.
Hatch-year male White-breasted Nuthatch

As previously noted, there was a single late Gray Catbird today. Surprisingly, this was only the 4th of the season, which even for this station is very low. Comparing Metro Beach to almost every other banding station in eastern North America, our seasonal range of 8-29 is very low for reasons likely related to habitat.
Hatch-year Gray Catbird

One species that was banded on the big days of both years is Downy Woodpecker. Until now, the number captured has been lower than normal, but what was unusual about today is that FIVE were banded, a single day record here.
Hatch-year male Downy Woodpecker

A trio of wren species was banded this year, none of which turned up on the 2011 big day, including the uncommonly captured Carolina Wren, an unusually late House Wren, and four Winter Wrens. Photos below provide head shots to show differences in field marks and structure that might be useful in the field.
Hatch-year House Wren
Note longer bill than Winter Wren, and
relatively plain, unmarked face with no pale
supercilium, and paler underparts with little
or no barring on the breast.

Hatch-year Winter Wren
Note shorter bill than House Wren, and fairly
prominent pale buff supercilium, and darker
throat and underparts with more prominent
barring on the breast and belly.

Hatch-year Carolina Wren
Size and tail length are not visible in these
head shots, so note the darker crown, very
prominent whitish supercilium, whitish throat,
and unmarked buffy breast.

Just to complete the collection of wrens banded at this site (Sedge Wren has only been banded here once...in 1994), below is a head shot of an adult Marsh Wren banded earlier this fall.
After hatch-year Marsh Wren
Note bold pale supercilium similar to
Carolina Wren, but more blackish crown
and straigher bill; also note black upper back
with distinct white spots.

A few warblers continued today, including two Orange-crowned; a species that was not captured on last year's big day.
Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

Interesting birds observed, but not banded, included a juvenile Great Horned Owl calling in the morning, several flyover American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and Pine Siskins, a couple Fox Sparrows, and a single lateish Nashville Warbler. The most interesting of the 43 recaptures was a Song Sparrow that was originally banded at this site on September 29, 2006 as an after-hatch-year unknown, making its current age after 7th year. Recaptures in 2007 allowed the bird to be sexed as male.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 18, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:49
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 8:45 (wind and rain forced early close)
Hours Open: 2.75
No. of Nets: 4.5-9.5 (wind prevented full setup)
Net Hours: 23.625
Temperature (F): 59
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SSE @ 7-10-15 mph
Barometer: 29.51-29.51
Precipitation: Rain started at 8:45
No. Banded: 19 (plus 4 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 10
Capture Rate: 105.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 5.00 hours, 5:00-10:00): Charlotte Calhoun, Dave Lancaster, Anne Ross, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Blanche Wicke.

Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Hermit Thrush - 3 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2
Palm Warbler - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[Swamp Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
White-throated Sparrow - 3
American Goldfinch -6 (plus 1 recaptured)

SATURDAY, October 20, 2012
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:51
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 8.00
No. of Nets: 5.0-13.5
Net Hours: 101.25
Temperature (F): 46-52
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SSW-NW @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 29.65-29.76
Precipitation: Trace rain
No. Banded: 222 (plus 43 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 22
Capture Rate: 263.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.5 hours, 5:00-16:30): Paul Bowling, Stevie Kuroda (3.5 hrs), Dave Lancaster, Bruce Watson (3.5 hrs).

Mourning Dove - 1
Downy Woodpeker - 5
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 3 (plus 5 recaptured)
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 10
Carolina Wren - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 36
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 35 (plus 1 recaptured)
Hermit Thrush - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Gray Catbird - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Song Sparrow - 24 (plus 16 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 7
White-throated Sparrow - 15 (plus 1 recaptured)
White-crowned Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 62 (plus 19 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)

1 comment:

Larry said...

Nice close up shots-especially of the wrens.What amazes me is that these birds look so small when held in the hand compared to what they look like in binoculars in their natural habitat.