Monday, September 2, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - August 21-31, 2013

Banding was conducted on four days during the last half of August; Wednesday August 21, Saturday August 24, Thursday August 29, and Saturday August 31. This is typically a time of year when there is a buildup of migrants, and this was indeed the case though only in modest numbers, not the first big wave that comes through in most years. Even so, there were some notable captures including a first for the station on August 31 (read on below). Unlike the first half of the month, we had to deal with a fair amount of heat and humidity.

Banding could not have been conducted on these four days without the able assistance of the following volunteers: Mary Buchowski, Jacob Charlebois, Terri Chapdelaine, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Marie McGee, Renee Render, Tom Schlack, Harrison Smith, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 27 birds banded on Wednesday, August 21 included the first migrant flycatchers in the form of two Least Flycatchers.
After hatch-year Least Flycatcher

The first thrush migrant was captured today, a Veery.
Hatch-year Veery

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single juvenile Great Horned Owl screech-hissing from the trees north of the Upland nets.

Highlights of the 72 birds banded on Saturday, August 24 included an adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird among the 8 banded, the highest so far this fall. For the most part, adult hummingbirds are rarely caught at this banding station in fall, a situation that I do not yet understand, though it might have something to do with the "coastal" nature of the site.
After hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

An Empidonax flycatcher that keyed out to Alder was almost certainly a migrant as no evidence of their summering in the park was noted this year.  Another Marsh Wren brought the season total to 5, a better than average year with a good month left before they depart the area.
Hatch-year Marsh Wren

Among the 6 species of warbler banded today were four season firsts, Tennessee, Nashville, Black-throated Blue, and Ovenbird.
Hatch-year Tennessee Warbler

Sometimes birds show unexpected characters that can confuse the birder, especially with fall warblers! Something that banders see fairly often is retained juvenile wing coverts, which in the case of the Tennessee Warbler can turn a warbler that resides in the "no wing bars" portion of our warbler key to one that shows wing bars. Note that this individual was sexed "female" based on her short wing chord, not by any field observable character.
Hatch-year female Tennessee Warbler

Hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

Hatch-year male Black-throated Blue Warbler

Hatch-year Ovenbird

Interesting birds observed but not banded included two juvenile Great Horned Owls calling in the dark while we were setting up the station, and a Canada Warbler in the bushes near where we set up to band.

Highlights of the 51 birds banded on Thursday, August 29 included 6 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Diversity was not great today, with only 8 species. Here is yet another Tennessee Warbler with retained juvenile coverts, forming wing bars the species is not supposed to show.
Hatch-year Tennessee Warbler

The second Black-throated Blue Warbler of the season was captured today, this one a hatch-year female.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Most birders are familiar with the diagnostic white spot at the base of the primaries on the wings to identify female Black-throated Blues. But in hatch-year birds it is very small and in some cases absent altogether! So, what to do when your main field mark is missing? ALWAYS have a back up field mark. The face pattern of females of this species is pretty distinctive, with a dusky gray cheek patch with a narrow white line above and below; and a narrow white "arc" below the eye.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Somewhat of a surprise was the first Bay-breasted Warbler of the season, this one identifiable as a male by the small amount of chestnut visible on its flanks (difficult to see in the photo below).
Hatch-year male Bay-breasted Warbler

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included several warblers in a small flock near the Swamp Nets (but alas too high to be caught); Tennessee, Nashville, Magnolia, American Redstart, and Ovenbird.

One non-bird highlight included a moth spotted by banding volunteer, Dave Lancaster. It was large, more than an inch from front to back, and was perched on a tree trunk next to a poison ivy vine. Using flash photography, the violet tones were brought out and allowed the identification to be made: Darling Underwing (Catocala cara).
Darling Underwing (Catocala cara)

The name underwing comes from the brilliant pattern on the hindwings, which are usually covered when the moth is sitting, so are rarely seen. If one gently touches the moth, they might open the wings briefly allowing a view (see below), or they might just fly of quickly.
Darling Underwing (Catocala cara)

Highlights of the 57 birds banded on Saturday, August 31 included 15 warblers of 8 species, one of which would normally be the highlight of the day. But, another bird today overshadowed them all; a station first, Red-tailed Hawk!
Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Because of their large size, Red-tailed Hawks are only rarely caught in songbird nets; they can easily escape the fine mesh. This bird was on the ground near the Field Nets, and tried to fly away, but got caught by its leg (after tearing a hole in the net), and flew back the other way (tearing another hole), then hopping once more into the middle of the net where it was carefully extracted.
Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

I headed back to the banding area with Stevie to assist, leaving the other volunteers to finish checking the remainder of the nets. The band size was determined using a leg gage (size 7D), and the wing and tail were measured. The brown-banded tail and even age of the primaries and secondaries indicated it was a hatch-year bird. It is generally not possible to sex Red-tails as there is a lot of overlap in size, unlike many other raptors. It was also not possible to weigh the bird, as the scale at the site only had a capacity of 500 grams, and these birds generally weigh well over 1000 grams. Through it all, the bird kept a defiant attitude.
Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

Once everything was recorded, Stevie released the bird.
Stevie Kuroda releasing the hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

As they probably don't nest in the park, today's Red-eyed Vireo was the first of the fall and almost certainly a migrant. Hatch-year birds have brown eyes.
Hatch-year Red-eyed Vireo

A Yellow Warbler recaptured today may be the last one of the fall, but who knows...I've said that a couple times already this fall. Two Magnolia Warblers banded today were the first banded this fall.
Hatch-year Magnolia Warbler

Two warblers that are early migrants were banded today, a bit later than expected actually. One was the Canada Warbler.
Hatch-year female Canada Warbler

The other "late" early migrant was Mourning Warbler. One was a clearly marked after hatch-year male, and the other was a rather nondescript hatch-year female, showing the extremes of appearance that this species can show in fall.
After hatch-year male Mourning Warbler

Hatch-year female Mourning Warbler

And the most exciting warbler of the day, and a top highlight on any other day, was the Connecticut Warbler found out in the Field Net. This was the 8th Connecticut Warbler banded here since 2004, all in fall, and the 16th since 1989, all but two in fall.
Hatch-year female Connecticut Warbler

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included two Cooper's Hawks, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a single calling Swainson's Thrush, and three flyover Bobolinks.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, August 21, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:46
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:45
Hours Open: 6.0 (closed early due to heat and humidity)
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 77.00
Temperature (F): 70-81
Cloud Cover: 20-50%
Wind: S-SE @ 3-5-10 mph
Barometer: 29.49-29.77
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 27 (plus 10 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species:13
Capture Rate: 50.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.00 hours, 5:00-13:00): Renee Render, Tom Schlack, Blanche Wicke (7.5 hrs).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 5 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Least Flycatcher - 2
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
House Wren - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Veery - 1
American Robin - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 4
[Swamp Sparrow - 1 released unbanded]
American Goldfinch - 8 (plus 4 recaptured)

SATURDAY, August 24, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:49
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 95.50
Temperature (F): 59-79
Cloud Cover: 10%
Wind: NW-SE @ 1-3-7 mph
Barometer: 29.62-29.67
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 72 (plus 14 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 16
Capture Rate: 92.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Stevie Kuroda (2.5 hrs), Renee Render (4.5 hrs), Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson (2.5 hrs), Blanche Wicke.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -8 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Alder Flycatcher - 1
House Wren - 3
Marsh Wren - 1
American Robin - 5 (plus 1 recaptured)
Cedar Waxwing - 3
Tennessee Warbler - 4
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 28 (plus 11 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

THURSDAY, August 29, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:54
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:15
Hours Open: 6.25 (closed early due to heat and humidity)
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 86.25
Temperature (F): 69-84
Cloud Cover: 0-20%
Wind: NW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 29.49-29.45
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 51 (plus 14 recaptured)
No. of Species:8
Capture Rate: 75.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.0 hours, 5:00-13:00): Mary Buchowski (5.0 hrs), Jacob Charlebois (5.5 hrs), Dave Lancaster, Marie McGee, Renee Render, Tom Schlack (5.5 hrs), Harrison Smith (5.5 hrs), Joan Tisdale, Blanche Wicke.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 6
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 11 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 26 (plus 9 recaptured)

SATURDAY, August 31, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:57
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.00
Temperature (F): 73-79
Cloud Cover: 100-70-100%
Wind: NE @ 3-7-0 mph
Barometer: 29.15-29.22
Precipitation: Trace Rain
No. Banded: 57 (plus 16 recaptured, 3 released unbanded)
No. of Species:19
Capture Rate: 83.5 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Terri Chapdelaine, Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -4
Northern Flicker - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Wren - 1
Veery - 1
Nashville Warbler - 2
[Yellow Warbler - 1 recaptured]
Magnolia Warbler - 2
Ovenbird - 2
Mourning Warbler - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 1 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Canada Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
American Goldfinch - 26 (plus 13 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

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