Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Metro Beach banding report - August 20-30, 2014

Banding was conducted on 4 days during the last half of August; Wednesday the 20th, Friday the 22nd, Thursday the 28th, and Saturday the 30th. Weather conditions remained wet, so it was amazing that no rain was encountered on any of these four days. Migration of passerines began with a trickle, and the wet nature of the banding area continued to be in evidence with yet another first for the station being a wetland species on the 30th.

Highlights of the 36 birds banded on Wednesday, August 20 were fairly sparse, and almost entirely occurred on nearly the last net run with two Great Crested Flycatchers and a single Eastern Kingbird. All were in one net, and their getting caught together provided the side-by-side photo opportunity below.
Eastern Kingbird (left) and Great Crested Flycatcher

The kingbird's development seemed less progressed than the one captured earlier this month, as the bill was shorter.
Hatch-year Eastern Kingbird

The Great Crested Flycatchers included an adult, with a lot of pinfeathers all over its body, and a very freshly plumaged hatch-year.
After hatch-year Great Crested Flycatcher

Hatch-year Great Crested Flycatcher

A White-breasted Nuthatch was an unusual catch, as less than one per season is caught at this site. Interesting birds observed but not banded included flyover Cooper's and Red-tailed hawks, calling Virginia Rail and Common Gallinule, a begging juvenile Great Horned Owl (well before sunrise), both Least and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (one each), perhaps the last Yellow Warbler of the year, and two calling Northern Waterthrushes.

Highlights of the 39 birds banded on Friday, August 22 included 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, one of which was an adult male. An odditiy of this banding site is that the vast majority of hummingbirds captured are hatch-year birds with very few adults, and especially few adult males. Adult male Ruby-throats depart earliest, with the majority out of the state of Michigan by about September 5. This one was in heavy body molt, as all adults seem to be this time of year. Note the white pinfeathers on the throat.
After hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 After hearing them in the banding area for a while, finally a Least Flycatcher was captured. This one was fairly easy to identify by its small size, large head, and broad, bright white eye ring.
Hatch-year Least Flycatcher

An Eastern Phoebe was captured today; a species that is very rarely captured here before September 15. Only two species of migrant warbler found their way into our nets, including the third Northern Waterthrush of the fall. This one could be aged as hatch-year based on the conspicuous pale tips on its tertials, which wear off on many hatch-year birds, forcing banders to use degree skull ossification to age them.
Hatch-year Northern Waterthrush

The other migrant warbler species captured today was a single Wilson's Warbler, which could not be easily aged by any visible plumage characters, so was aged hatch-year based on skull ossification.
Hatch-year Wilson's Warbler

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a single American Woodcock flushed from the Field Nets net lane, before the nets were open, a calling Virginia Rail, a single Magnolia Warbler, and two flyover Bobolinks.

Highlights of the 48 birds banded on Thursday, August 28 included two Virginia Rails! Having heard them out near the Field Nets for more than a week, using an audio lure was very successful this morning. Four other rails were in the net lane, but not captured, on the same net run. Both were hatch-year birds, based on molt limits in the secondary coverts, with support from the eye color which was brown in one bird, and more olive-brown in the other. These are only the 4th and 5th Virginia Rails ever banded at this site.
Hatch-year Virginia Rail

Hatch-year Virginia Rail (brown eyes)

Hatch-year Virginia Rail (olive eyes)

A species not captured very often is the Hairy Woodpecker, represented today by this hatch-year male.
Hatch-year male Hairy Woodpecker

A pleasant surprise today, since I really like Empidonax flycatchers, was the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, which was easily identified by its big-headed proportions, greenish tones, and broad pale yellowish eye ring. The throat (not seen well in photos) was grayish white at the chin shading to yellowish on the lower throat.
Hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Two migrant warblers were captured today, new to the species list for the fall. One of them was this American Redstart.
Hatch-year American Redstart

The other warbler species, which actually nests in the same county, but not at this park (not enough habitat), was an Ovenbird.
Hatch-year Ovenbird

Another interesting Ovenbird was a report just received of one banded last fall (on August 31, 2013) that was found (dead) this spring (May 6, 2014) in a remote town in northern Ontario (Maple Leaf). Interesting birds observed but not banded was a pair of chasing Cooper's Hawks; both appeared to be juveniles, and a single Chestnut-sided Warbler working the tangles near the cars.

On Saturday, August 30, we were joined by fellow bander (and soon to be hummingbird bander), Amy Wilms who bands birds at the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary in central Indiana. She was joined by one of her volunteers, Mike Hall.
Sarah Toner (L), Mike Hall (C), Amy Wilms (R)

 We showed them an unfortunate amount of mud, and a station first Belted Kingfisher!
Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

The two chestnut breast bands clearly indicated this bird was a female.
Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

Aging this bird was a bit challenging, mainly because it was a first for everyone. Most convincing was the shapes of the outer primaries, which were more pointed as they should be for a hatch-year.
Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

The pattern of black on the central tail feathers is also supposed to be helpful for aging kingfishers, but it was not clear to us what we were looking at.
Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

Having one of these birds in-hand gave us the opportunity to examine their odd feet, which are characteristic of all kingfishers. Two toes are fused at the base, which in this species helps it dig nesting burrows in river banks.
Hatch-year female Belted Kingfisher

As part of the slow trickle of newly arriving warblers, a male Black-throated Blue Warbler was captured today. This one was easily aged as hatch-year by the white mottling on its black throat.
Hatch-year male Black-throated Blue Warbler

And finally, a very common species but perhaps an unusual individual, Red-winged Blackbird was captured. Most of the Red-wings banded at this station are in spring, when it is easy to age males as second-year or after second year. Some years (including this year), a few juveniles (hatch-year) are banded in early August. So lacking much experience with adults in early fall, the molt on this individual struck me as a bit unusual.
After hatch-year male Red-winged Blackbird

It is showing fresh feathers on the head and back (with rufous fringes), and a very fresh red and yellow epaulette. But the outer two primaries, and the alula, were VERY worn and brown. Also the next primary in was still growing, as was the outermost secondary. So, do the very dull flight feathers indicate that this is a second-year bird? I'd appreciate hearing from banders with more experience with Red-winged Blackbird molt.
After hatch-year male Red-winged Blackbird

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a calling Virginia Rail, a calling Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a calling Northern Waterthrush, and a single Baltimore Oriole.

Banding Data
WEDNESDAY, August 20, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:45
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): 69-77
Cloud Cover: 100-80%
Wind: SW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 29.80-29.91
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 36 (plus 16 recaptured)
No. of Species: 12
Capture Rate: 57.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Jacob Charlebois, Marie McGee, Sarah Toner, Blanche Wicke (6.5 hrs).

Downy Woodpecker - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Alder Flycatcher - 2
Great Crested Flycatcher - 2
Eastern Kingbird - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
American Robin - 2
Gray Catbird - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Common Yellowthroat - 2
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 9 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Finch - 1
American Goldfinch - 12 (plus 4 recaptured)

FRIDAY, August 22, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:47
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:15
Hours Open: 7.25
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 93.25
Temperature (F): 66-79
Cloud Cover: 90-50%
Wind: Calm-N @ 0-1-3 mph
Barometer: 30.01-30.02
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 39 (plus 16 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 14
Capture Rate: 61.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack (6.0 hrs), Sue Wright.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 3
Northern Flicker - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 3
Least Flycatcher - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Warbling Vireo - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Robin - 6 (plus 2 released unbanded)
Yellow Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 1
Song Sparrow - 11 (plus 3 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1 (plus 3 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 3 (plus 8 recaptured)

THURSDAY, August 28, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:53
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: 92.00
Temperature (F): 61-73
Cloud Cover: 40-10%
Wind: NNW @ 1-3-5 mph
Barometer: 30.19-30.19
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 48 (plus 19 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 17
Capture Rate: 75.0 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Jacob Charlebois, Dave Lancaster, Joan Tisdale, Blanche Wicke.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 6 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Least Flycatcher - 1
Marsh Wren - 2
American Robin - 1
Gray Catbird - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Redstart - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 11 (plus 6 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
[Swamp Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 16 (plus 9 recaptured)

SATURDAY, August 30, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 5:56
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:00
Hours Open: 6.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-13.0
Net Hours: 72.00
Temperature (F): 70-81
Cloud Cover: 100-50-100%
Wind: S @ 3-5-12 mph
Barometer: 29.98-29.97
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 33 (plus 8 recaptured)
No. of Species: 11
Capture Rate: 56.9 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.5 hours, 5:00-14:30): Mike Hall (IN), Sarah Toner, Blanche Wicke, Amy Wilms (IN).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -4
Least Flycatcher - 1
Marsh Wren - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3 (plus 2 recaptured)
Song Sparrow - 5 (plus 3 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 13 (plus 3 recaptured)

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