Saturday, August 17, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - August 4-15, 2013

Bird banding during the first half of August at Lake St. Clair Metropark typically documents some of the breeding success of locally nesting species, and on the four days banding was conducted that was indeed the case. The first day, Sunday August 4, was a day for clearing net lanes, and also for hand-sawing some limbs out of a net lane where a tree had fallen during the summer. The next two banding days, Thursday August 8 and Sunday August 11, were very productive, with more than 100 birds banded each day; something that is extraordinary at this site for this early in the season. As expected, all were locally breeding species, but with a single individual of a migrant on August 11 (see details below). Thursday August 15 was a more normal day as far as numbers, and no migrants. The weather during this two week period was cooler than normal, and also wetter though thankfully we mostly avoided rain on these four days.

Banding would not be possible at this site without the able assistance of volunteers. Many thanks to the following volunteers for helping on these four days: Rebecca Blundell, Brandon Charlebois, Chris Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Jean Gramlich, Renee Render, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 31 birds banded on Sunday, August 4 included of course the first bird of the season, a Yellow Warbler. They are an early migrant, often with the peak of movement during late July or early August. In 2012, only a single Yellow Warbler was banded, as they may have had a poor nesting season and left even earlier.
After hatch-year female Yellow Warbler

An infrequently captured species at this station is Northern Flicker, so it was nice to catch this male. It was difficult to age this one more precisely, as it seemed to have the uniform primary coverts of a hatch-year, but was symmetrically molting primaries and also appeared to have a diminishing brood patch, making it an adult.
After hatch-year male Northern Flicker

At least one pair of Willow Flycatchers was present in the marsh all summer long, which is typical of most years with Alders being present in some years (but not this year). So it was not unexpected to catch one of them today, and it was also helpful that the wing formula "keyed out" to the correct species.
Hatch-year Willow Flycatcher

Warbling Vireos nest commonly in the park, and also in the banding area, and many will migrate during August.
Hatch-year Warbling Vireo

Cedar Waxwings are not captured at this site every year. It was a little unexpected capturing two of them today as the dogwood berries out in the Field Nets, where they were captured, are not yet ripe. Waxwings are late nesters, and the female here was showing an extensive brood patch, a sign that incubation or feeding of young is still going on.
After hatch-year female Cedar Waxwing

Another common nesting species that early banding documents in good numbers each fall is the Common Yellowthroat. Many juveniles, with their cinnamon wing bars that confuse even moderately experienced birders, are banded during August.
Hatch-year Common Yellowthroat

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a couple of Marsh Wrens calling in the marsh near the Field Nets.

Highlights of the 118 birds banded on Thursday, August 8 included the first three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds of the fall.
Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Eastern Wood-Pewees nest in the park, and in the banding area, but are sometimes missed entirely during a fall season, so it was encouraging to catch one today, one of the young produced in the park this year.
Hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

The number of Marsh Wrens in the banding area this summer was larger than normal, so hopefully it will be a good season for them. The number banded here each fall varies considerably, from a low of just one, to a high of 27 (before 2004).
Hatch-year Marsh Wren

The excellent number of 22 Yellow Warblers banded today included a few that were still retaining some juvenile plumage, which consists of a white belly and a lot of gray feathers on the upperparts. After fledging, they quickly molt out of this plumage into a first basic plumage that is mostly yellow. The individual below is in heavy molt.
Hatch-year Yellow Warbler

Most of the day, a male Indigo Bunting had been singing an abbreviated song down the road a short distance from some of the nets (Upland area). Later in the day, while that bird was still singing, a male dropped into the Upland Nets.
After second-year male Indigo Bunting

Baltimore Orioles are another species we hope to catch early in the season, and we did band one new one and recaptured two others that likely bred in the area.
After hatch-year male Baltimore Oriole.

House Finches are not often banded at this station, with the previous record for a single season being just three individuals. So it was very surprising to band 13 of them today! They were visiting the thistle sock feeders near the Field Nets, which they have been doing for several years without being caught in such numbers. But previously, they would fly up to the top of the dead ash tree in the center of these nets, then back down to the feeders, deftly avoiding getting caught. With the tree now fallen (see the spring 2013 blog entries), it is apparent that they now fly back and forth to the much smaller dogwoods, thus getting caught more often.
Hatch-year House Finch

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included hundreds of swallows moving from north to south, including many Bank Swallows which is the earliest species to depart, along with Purple Martin. As is typical, all were very high over the banding area so not catch-able.

Highlights of the 101 birds banded on Sunday, August 11 included four more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and a rarely captured resident species, a Red-bellied Woodpecker. This individual was clearly a juvenile based on the amount of brown in the crown, but the large patch of red there indicated it was a male.
Hatch-year male Red-bellied Woodpecker

The first migrant of the fall season was captured today, a Northern Waterthrush, which is often one of the first warbler to arrive from breeding areas north of the banding area.
Hatch-year Northern Waterthrush

Some years, Red-winged Blackbirds linger in the marsh into August, while in most years they depart to feed in the open grassy areas of the park, and in farmland elsewhere in the county. This year, and today especially, there were quite a few with most being juveniles. It can be a little tricky telling hatch-year male from female Red-winged Blackbirds. One way is by wing length, with females tending to be 92-99 mm, and males tending to be 104-109mm. But some individuals have not fully grown their wings and tails, so I have found that a different method works better...checking the size of their legs. Males take a bigger band size than females, and this character appears to stabilize before wing length. And a back up character is weight, with females weight being in the 40s (grams), and males being in the 50s or 60s.
Hatch-year male Red-winged Blackbird

It didn't take long for the local American Goldfinches to find the thistle sock feeders near the Field Nets. In fact, within an hour of them going up on August 4 there were birds on them. Most have been hatch-year birds, but some adults have been caught as well. Some males, like the one below, appear to have much blacker wings than they do in spring due to the wearing off of the white covert tips that create their wing bars.
After hatch-year male American Goldfinch

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a flyover Caspian Tern and a flyover Belted Kingfisher.

Highlights of the 40 birds banded on Thursday, August 15 included two more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a resident species that only rarely wanders back to the banding area, a Tufted Titmouse. This juvenile had a short crest and only a limited amount of black on the forehead.
Hatch-year Tufted Titmouse

Gray Catbirds nest in the banding area in small numbers, and this summer only a single individual has been detected on surveys. The confirmation of breeding came when a hatch-year bird was captured today. The grayish-brown eye will fairly quickly change to dark brown, and in a few months can be maroon.
Hatch-year Gray Catbird

Among the 5 Cedar Waxwings banded today were two juveniles, and this nice adult male.
After hatch-year male Cedar Waxwing

Interesting birds observed but not banded included flyover Double-crested Cormorant, and two Cooper's Hawks.

Banding Data
SUNDAY, August 4, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:28
Time Open (E.S.T.): 8:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open:4.5
No. of Nets:5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 49.00
Temperature (F):64-72
Cloud Cover: 0-50%
Wind: WNW @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 29.47-29.51
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 31 (plus 1 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species:11
Capture Rate: 60/4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.75 hours, 6:00-14:45): Chris Charlebois (4.0 hrs), Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson.

Northern Flicker - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
[House Wren - 1 released unbanded]
American Robin - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Cedar Waxwing - 2
Yellow Warbler - 5
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 7
American Goldfinch - 5

THURSDAY, August 8, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:32
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F):66-73
Cloud Cover: 60-80-60%
Wind: NNW-N @ 7-10 mph
Barometer: 29.33-29.38
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 118 (plus 14 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species:19
Capture Rate: 146.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Rebecca Blundell, Brandon Charlebois, Chris Charlebois (4.0 hrs), Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois, Trisha Charlebois, Renee Render (5.0 hrs), Joan Tisdale.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 3
[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Northern Flicker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
House Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - 2
American Robin - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Yellow Warbler - 22 (plus 3 released unbanded)
Common Yellowthroat - 11
Song Sparrow - 20 (plus 4 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 9
Northern Cardinal - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
House Finch - 13
American Goldfinch - 23 (plus 3 recaptured)

SUNDAY, August 11, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:35
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.00
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F): 64-77
Cloud Cover: 95-100-50%
Wind: W-NW @ 3-5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.50-29.46
Precipitation: Trace rain
No. Banded: 101 (plus 27 recaptured and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species:20
Capture Rate: 146.2 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois (5.5 hrs), Renee Render, Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson.

[Mourning Dove - 2 released unbanded]
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
House Wren -3
Marsh Wren - 1
American Robin - 3
Cedar Waxwing - 3
Yellow Warbler - 4 (plus 3 recaptured)
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 6 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 41 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
House Finch - 9 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 8 (plus 15 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)

THURSDAY, August 15, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:40
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:00
Hours Open: 6.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 77.00
Temperature (F): 54-70
Cloud Cover: 10-30%
Wind: WNW-SE @ 1-3-10 mph
Barometer: 29.52-29.52
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 40 (plus 15 recaptured)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 71.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Brandon Charlebois (2.5 hrs), Jacob Charlebois (6.0 hrs), Jean Gramlich, Renee Render, Blanche Wicke (7.5 hrs).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Willow Flycatcher - 2
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
Tufted Titmouse - 1
House Wren - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Robin - 2
Gray Catbird - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 5
Yellow Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 9 (plus 4 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Finch - 4
American Goldfinch - 2 (plus 6 recaptured)

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