Saturday, October 19, 2013

Metro Beach banding station report - October 3-17, 2013

First, I'd like to announce that the detailed report for the spring 2013 banding season is now finished and can be downloaded as a PDF file by going to the Metro Beach Banding website here.

Banding was conducted on four days during this period: Thursday October 3, Thursday October 10, Saturday October 12, and Thursday October 17. A fifth day was attempted on Sunday, October 6, but after getting only 5 nets open it started to rain, and didn't show signs of letting up, so we took it all back down. Thanks to Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke for putting in 3 hours that day, only to be rained out. Clearly the days with warblers dominating the captures is behind us, with many species finishing up the season well below their 10-year averages, some only half the average. Sparrows arrived in the first half of October in abundance, with the result that October 3 was an all-time record day with 226 new birds banded (record was 224), followed by another record on October 10 with 286, then another fantastic day on October 12 with 243. Before this year, there were only four days with more than 200 birds banded, never more than one in a season. During surveys on October 16 there were still lots of birds in the banding area, but on October 17 there were nowhere near as many, with the result that numbers returned to more modest levels with 54 banded that day.

Banding could not have been done on these days without the help of very capable volunteers, including: John Bieganowski, Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Mary Mangas, Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack, Edie Schmitz, Blanche Wicke, and Sue Wright. It was also nice to see semi-regular annual visitors from California, George and Heather, who visited briefly on October 10, and were pressed into service for a couple hours on October 12.

Highlights of the 226 birds banded on Thursday, October 3 included the first two Blue-headed Vireos of the season.
Hatch-year Blue-headed Vireo

Certainly not the first of the season, but the 15 Winter Wrens today was more than double the previous record for a single day (7 on 9 Oct 2008). In fact, the 7 Winter Wrens in the Upland Nets on just the first net check equaled that record!
Hatch-year Winter Wren

One of the Winter Wrens had a few white feathers, a couple on the upper wing coverts of the left wing, a couple on the crown, and the outermost (10th) primary on the left wing. This is the first Winter Wren I've captured with white feathers.
Hatch-year Winter Wren with white feathers

Three Brown Thrashers were encountered in one of the Field Nets, which would have been a record for a single season (!), but unfortunately one of them got away before we could get to it. There were at least two others near the cars while we had these two "in the bag". Eye color is a good indication of age in Brown Thrashers, with duller yellow eyes indicating hatch-year.
Hatch-year Brown Thrasher

 One of the photos shows the nictitating membrane, present in all birds, which is mostly clear and semi-transparent in most species.
Hatch-year Brown Thrasher showing nictitating membrane

It was a good day for both species of kinglet, and 4 species of thrush were captured today including a single Gray-cheeked, several Swainson's, and a somewhat late Wood Thrush. Among the 26 warblers of 9 species banded today included a single Orange-crowned, and several Black-throated Blues, which have been scarce this fall. One of the females had absolutely NO white at the base of the primaries. This is one of my favorite "quiz birds", as it highlights the importance of using more than one field mark to identify birds. The number of times I've included this topic in the banding highlights (probably every year) indicates that this variation is not particularly rare.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

The photo below shows a more typical pattern. Note that a larger amount of white does not necessarily indicate an older (after hatch-year) bird in the field.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

A female Wilson's Warbler was the latest ever banded here in the fall.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Warbler

It was also a good day for sparrows, with the first Dark-eyed Junco of the season among the 5 species banded.
Hatch-year female Dark-eyed Junco

Somewhat late was an Indigo Bunting, showing no blue anywhere so it was determined to be a hatch-year female.
Hatch-year female Indigo Bunting

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Marsh Wren calling near the Field Nets, an American Redstart, and a somewhat late Rose-breasted Grosbeak that was calling next to the cars most of the morning.

Highlights of the 286 birds banded on Thursday, October 10 included an amazing SIX House Wrens which was one more than the previous record, and quite a few for so late in the season. A surprise was a record late date for banded Wood Thrush, amazingly represented by TWO individuals.
Hatch-year Wood Thrush

Perhaps the biggest surprise was a Yellow-breasted Chat, only the 3rd since 2004, the 9th since 1989, and the latest ever here.The gray, not black lores indicated it was a female.
Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Hatch-year female Yellow-breasted Chat

Sparrows were the dominant group filling the nets on this record day, with the first Field Sparrow of the season. Typically, less than one per season is banded here.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

The 107 White-throated Sparrows banded today beat the previous one-day record by 11. A member of this species was probably the 2000th bird of the season banded. Only two other seasons have exceeded this threshhold.
Hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Black-throated Blue Warbler, and an Eastern Towhee calling next to the cars all day long, but not going into the nearby Willow Net.

Highlights of the 243 birds banded on Saturday, October 12 included two more Blue-headed Vireos, always a nice species to include in the photo highlights.
Hatch-year Blue-headed Vireo

All three warblers captured today should have made the photo highlights, but on busy days the time available for photos is limited. Single individuals of Orange-crowned Warbler, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat were banded today. Surprisingly, this was not a record late date for the Ovenbird nor the yellowthroat. Once again, sparrows were the lead story today. While there were good numbers of White-throated again (71), the 42 Song Sparrows was a record day. The previous record was 35, on two dates; 22 October 1989, and 29 October 2010.
After hatch-year Song Sparrow

Another record was set for White-crowned Sparrow. Prior to this year the record was 12 on 7 October 2007. On 29 September this fall, 22 were banded, but 23 were banded on 10 October, and today, 26.
Hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a couple Chimney Swifts and Tree Swallows, and two Eastern Towhees near the cars all day, but yet again avoiding capture.

Highlights of the 54 bird banded on Thursday, October 17 included a single House Wren, which was late but not record late.
Hatch-year House Wren

Setting a record late date by one day, were the two Marsh Wrens today. This also brought the season's total to 17, which has far surpassed the 7 in 2008 which was the greatest number since 2004. The record for a single season is 26 from 1997, but 24 were banded in 1993 and 22 in 1994. Cattails were more prevalent in the banding area than they are currently.
Hatch-year Marsh Wren

Hatch-year Marsh Wren

This late in the season, it is always a delight to encounter something bright yellow caught in the nets, which indicates a warbler. Today's single warbler was a Nashville.
Hatch-year male Nashville Warbler

Sparrows again dominated the captures, with the 3rd Field Sparrow of the season setting a record.
Hatch-year Field Sparrow

And finally, an Eastern Towhee found its way into the Field Nets, far from the cars. Less than one of these is banded each season.
Hatch-year female Eastern Towhee

Interesting species observed but not banded included at least one American Woodcock. One flew off the roadside in the dark, and at dawn one (the same one?) was flushed out of the road. On slower days, that is when less then 200 birds are captured, the bander and volunteers have a little time between net checks to look at birds.
Allen Chartier, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, and Edie Schmitz

What we're all looking at, above, is an Eastern Screech-Owl that Blanche found while looking at a flock of kinglets and chickadees that were obviously agitated.
Red morph Eastern Screech-Owl

 This was one of two screech-owls that we detected, one was heard before sunrise a fair distance from this one. In addition there were clearly two adult and one immature Great Horned Owls, all calling before dawn.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 3, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:32
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.5
No. of Nets: 9.0-14.0
Net Hours: 102.50
Temperature (F): 62-73
Cloud Cover: 100--60-90%
Wind: SE-SW @ 5-0-7 mph
Barometer: 30.10 - 30.03
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 226 (plus 15 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 31
Capture Rate: 239.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.50 hours, 5:00-15:30): John Bieganowski (9.0 hrs), Dave Lancaster (9.0 hrs), Tom Schlack (9.5 hrs), Mary Mangas (6.0 hrs), Steve Mangas, Blanche Wicke (9.0 hrs), Sue Wright.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
Brown Creeper - 3
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 15 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 45
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 15
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 7
Hermit Thrush - 25 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wood Thrush - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
Brown Thrasher - 2 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 6
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 7
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Palm Warbler -3
Ovenbird - 2
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Wilson's Warbler - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 8 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 5
White-throated Sparrow - 45 (plus 3 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 9
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Indigo Bunting - 1
American Goldfinch - 9 (plus 8 recaptured)

THURSDAY, October 10, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:40
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): 48-72
Cloud Cover: 0%
Wind: NW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.27 - 30.24
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 286 (plus 26 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 27
Capture Rate: 320.4 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 11.5 hours, 5:00-16:30): John Bieganowski (9.5 hrs), Dave Lancaster (9.5 miles), Tom Schlack, Blanche Wicke (9.5 hrs).

Mourning Dove - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 3
House Wren - 6
Winter Wren - 5
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 14
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 18
Swainson's Thrush - 2
Hermit Thrush - 38 (plus 2 recaptured)
Wood Thrush - 2
Gray Catbird - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Palm Warbler - 1
[Ovenbird - 1 recaptured]
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 24 (plus 8 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 5
Swamp Sparrow - 13
White-throated Sparrow - 107 (plus 3 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 23
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 14 (plus 8 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)

SATURDAY, October 12, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:42
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): 50-72
Cloud Cover: 0-40%
Wind: Calm-ENE @ 0-5-7 mph
Barometer: 30.16 - 30.15
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 243 (plus 34 recaptured, 7 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 23
Capture Rate: 289.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 5:00-15:30): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke (9.5 hrs).

[Mourning Dove - 1 recaptured]
Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Blue-headed Vireo - 2
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 3
Marsh Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 17 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 29 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Hermit Thrush - 21 (plus 2 recaptured)
Gray Catbird - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 42 (plus 6 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Swamp Sparrow - 7
White-throated Sparrow - 71 (plus 7 recaptured, 3 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 26 (plus 5 recaptured)
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]
American Goldfinch - 15 (plus 8 recaptured)

THURSDAY, October 17, 2013
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:48
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:45 (rain forced early close)
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 9.0-14.0
Net Hours: 81.50
Temperature (F): 54-57
Cloud Cover: 100%
Wind: SE-SSW @ 5-7 mph
Barometer: 29.93 - 29.90
Precipitation: Lt. Rain at close (12:00+)
No. Banded: 54 (plus 20 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 17
Capture Rate: 93.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.0 hours, 5:00-13:00): Stevie Kuroda, Tom Schlack (5.0 hrs), Edie Schmitz, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke.

Mourning Dove - 1 (plus 1 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Brown Creeper - 1
House Wren - 1
Winter Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 5
Hermit Thrush -  2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Nashville Warbler - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 16
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Swamp Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 9 (plus 3 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
White-crowned Sparrow - 5 (plus 4 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 2 (plus 12 recaptured)

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