Monday, September 30, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - September 19-29, 2013

Banding was conducted on four days during the last half of September; Thursday September 19, Sunday September 22, Thursday September 26, and Sunday September 29. Weather cooperated on all but the last day, with rain closing the station for more than an hour that day, and closing the station down early as well. The late season influx of warblers has yet to appear, as most species have been captured at only about half our 10-year average. The same goes for thrushes. Sparrows have arrived on schedule. The previous record for American Goldfinches (512) was broken definitively and now stands more than 150 above that mark, with a month left to go! It appears that in addition to increasing our captures of House Finches earlier in the season, the fallen tree in the center of the Field Nets is now forcing more birds to perch at net level and get caught, including not only goldfinches but also apparently Red-winged Blackbirds and Mourning Doves. There is a theme, of sorts, in this blog posting focusing on some bird tails.

As always, this entire operation is dependent on the efforts of very capable (and getting better all the time) volunteers, including: David Boon, Brandon Charlebois, Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Renee Render, Tom Schlack, Jeff Silence, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Highlights of the 74 birds banded on Thursday, September 19 included 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This is the best day so far this fall, and the first day in double digits.
Hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Immatures of both sexes have white tail spots, generally on the outer three pairs. In young males the white spot on the innermost is smaller than on females, and a very few females will have white spots on four pairs, like this individual.
Hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Another highlight was the second Philadelphia Vireo of the fall.
Hatch-year Philadelphia Vireo

Other interesting species included Marsh Wren, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Lincoln's Sparrows. Only a single warbler was captured today, a recapture of a Common Yellowthroat. Fully 2/3 of the birds banded today were American Goldfinches.

There were two insect highlights today, both of them caterpillars. Out at the Field Nets, the caterpillar below was found feeding on short vegetation on the ground. It looks like a swallowtail butterfly caterpillar, but is actually that of a moth; specifically the Beautiful Wood-Nymph. Photos of an adult are on my website here.
Beautiful Wood-Nymph (Eudryas grata)

And under the leaves of a plant that I think was Indian Hemp were these sociable caterpillars of another moth, the Dogbane Saucrobotys.
Dogbane Saucrobotys (Saucrobotys futilalis)

Interesting birds observed but not banded included Blackpoll, Black-and-white, and Connecticut Warblers, and a calling Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Highlights of the 144 birds banded on Sunday, September 22 included only 4 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Two more Northern Flickers brought the season total to a very good five.
After hatch-year male Northern Flicker

An Eastern Phoebe was the first of the fall, and somewhat earlier than normal.
Hatch-year Eastern Phoebe

The third Philadelphia Vireo of the season was captured today, the most since before 2004, and the first Winter Wren of the season was also banded. Among the 28 warblers of 6 species banded today were the first two Yellow-rumped Warblers of the fall.
After hatch-year female Yellow-rumped Warbler

It was definitely a sparrow day, with the second Savannah Sparrow of this fall also being only the second ever in the fall.
Hatch-year Savannah Sparrow

Hatch-year Savannah Sparrow

The first White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows were banded today, one of each, and both of them adults.
After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

After hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

A surprise was a young male Indigo Bunting. This bird had a number of blue feathers on the lower back and rump, not visible in the photo below.
Hatch-year male Indigo Bunting

A non-bird highlight was the fairly large Eastern Garter Snake found by Jacob. It appeared that it had just eaten something rather large, so was fairly sluggish.
Jacob with Garter Snake

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Peregrine Falcon flying in off the lake and seen briefly over the banding road, a calling Red-breasted Nuthatch, and just a single Golden-crowned Kinglet,

Highlights of the 122 birds banded on Thursday, September 26 included a single Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which may be the last one here this season.
Hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Two hatch-year Mourning Doves were among very few banded at this station, and the first of their age class.
Hatch-year female Mourning Dove

Surprisingly late were the two Eastern Wood-Pewees, both in the Field Nets on the same net run.
Hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

The first Brown Creeper was a bit unexpected as none had been seen or heard in the banding area all day.
After hatch-year Brown Creeper

And perhaps fittingly, the first Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets of the fall were banded, since there were many, many more of them in the area.
After hatch-year male Golden-crowned Kinglet

Hatch-year female Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 Often arriving around the same time as kinglets, creepers, and Winter Wrens (two banded today) are Hermit Thrushes, one of which found its way into the nets.
After hatch-year Hermit Thrush

 Only four warblers of two species were captured today, a single Nashville Warbler and three Common Yellowthroats.

Very few butterflies have been seen in the banding area this fall (and few in summer too), including only two or three Monarchs, so it was a photo event when one appeared along the banding road, a very fresh Eastern Comma.
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Sharp-shinned Hawk and three Broad-winged Hawks over the banding station, and about 90 Chimney Swifts heading south. One volunteer found a Blue-headed Vireo and a Black-throated Green Warbler.

Highlights of the 102 birds banded on Sunday, September 29 did not, for the first time since August 4, include a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Among the 7 warblers of 6 species today was the first Orange-crowned Warbler, perhaps only a couple days later than expected.
Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

A surprise was an immature male Canada Warbler, which is an early migrant so is quite late at the end of September.
Hatch-year male Canada Warbler

In addition to evaluating degree of skull ossification to age passerines, something that is difficult to learn and master, the shapes of tail feathers is another supporting character in some groups of birds. It is perhaps most useful in the warblers, and today's Palm Warbler (the 10th of the season) was an after hatch-year with more bluntly rounded, not tapered or pointed tail feathers.
After hatch-year Palm Warbler

One of the tricks to using tail feather (rectrix) shape is that you really need to learn the variations of all the species. Warblers formerly in the genus Vermivora (i.e., Tennessee, Nashville, etc.) have more pointed tail feathers in all ages than those formerly in the genus Dendroica (like the Palm Warbler above). And Common Yellowthroats and Mourning Warblers tend to have even more pointed tail feathers, even as adults.

Then there are sparrows, which have even pointier tail feathers than warblers. Below are examples from the good (actually record number) of White-crowned Sparrows banded today, first an adult, followed by a hatch-year. Compare the subtle difference in the shapes, with hatch-year more tapered/pointed.
After hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

And here is one of the hatch-year White-throated Sparrows. It is a little more worn than the White-crowned as they tend to forage in brushier habitats than White-crowned so their feathers wear faster.
Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

As with the warblers, some sparrows have more pointed tail feathers than others. Members of the genus Ammodramus (Henslow's, Grasshopper, etc.) have very pointy tail feathers, while others like Song, Lincoln's, and Swamp (like the hatch-year below) are somewhere in between, and also prone to wear in the habitats where they occur.
Hatch-year Swamp Sparrow

A little on the late side was this adult female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It was even more interesting because she was wearing a band, but not from this year. Rose-breasted Grosbeak does not nest in the park, as there may not be enough acreage of woodland to support them, so it is almost certain that this is a migrant. This is the first time in 10 years that a migrant of a locally non-breeding species has been captured here!
After hatch-year female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and two flyover Caspian Terns.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, September 19, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:17
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): 64-75
Cloud Cover: 50-90%
Wind: SSE @ 5-7-10 mph
Barometer: 30.08 - 30.05
Precipitation: Fog/Haze
No. Banded: 74 (plus 15 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 10
Capture Rate: 98.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.50 hours, 5:00-14:30): Dave Lancaster, Tom Schlack, Jeff Silence (1.0 hrs), Blanche Wicke.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 12
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
House Wren - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Marsh Wren - 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 2
[Common Yellowthroat - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
American Goldfinch - 52 (plus 13 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

SUNDAY, September 22, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:20
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.50
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 98.00
Temperature (F): 50-59
Cloud Cover: 40-10-100%
Wind: NW-NE @ 7-10-12 mph
Barometer: 29.99 -30.06
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 144 (plus 42 recaptured and 5 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 25
Capture Rate: 194.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Brandon Charlebois (7.5 hrs), Jacob Charlebois, Mike Charlebois (5.75 hrs), Stevie Kuroda, Renee Render, Bruce Watson.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -4
Northern Flicker - 2
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
[House Wren - 2 recaptured]
Winter Wren - 1
[Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1 recaptured]
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 2
Nashville Warbler - 8
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Palm Warbler - 6
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 8
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 12 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
White-throated Sparrow - 1
White-crowned Sparrow - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 81 (plus 32 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)

THURSDAY, September 26, 2013
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: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 98.00
Temperature (F): 50-75
Cloud Cover: 10-0%
Wind: NW-NE @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.08 - 30.14
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 122 (plus 23 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 21
Capture Rate: 152.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): David Boon, Dave Lancaster, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Blanche Wicke.

Mourning Dove - 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 1
[Downy Woodpecker - 2 recaptured]
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 2
Eastern Phoebe - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Hermit Thrush - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Song Sparrow - 10
Lincoln's Sparrow - 4
Swamp Sparrow - 5
White-throated Sparrow - 13
White-crowned Sparrow - 8
American Goldfinch - 63 (plus 17 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)

SUNDAY, September 29, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:27
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 5.50 (closed from 9:45 - 11:00, rain)
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 70.00
Temperature (F): 64-64
Cloud Cover: 90-100%
Wind: SSE-SSW @ 10-0-5 mph
Barometer: 30.04 - 30.05
Precipitation: Lt. Rain from10:30 - 11:15, and 13:00+
No. Banded: 102 (plus 31 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 21
Capture Rate: 192.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Bruce Watson.

Mourning Dove -1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
House Wren - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Marsh Wren - 2
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Hermit Thrush - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Palm Warbler - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Canada Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 6 (plus 4 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 23
White-crowned Sparrow - 22 (plus 2 recaptured)
[Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 28 (plus 20 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

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