Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Metro Beach banding report - October 16-25, 2014

Temperatures were fairly mild during this period, but it was a bit of a challenge getting the standard 6 hours in between rain some days, and wind on other days. Migration has slowed down considerably, and the big push of sparrows expected at this time of year seems not to have materialized, at least in the flooded banding area. But there were some interesting highlights. Banding was conducted on four days during this period, Thursday October 16, Saturday October 18, Thursday October 23, and Saturday October 25.

Highlights of the 33 birds banded on Thursday October 16 included the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season. I would have expected many more of these by now, so this is rather late for the first report.
Hatch-year male Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A late Swainson's Thrush was probably the last one of the season. With low sparrow numbers this fall (except for Song and Swamp), it was nice to capture the first adult White-crowned Sparrow of the season.
After hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was a Rusty Blackbird caught in the Field Nets. This is only the 13th Rusty banded here since 1989, the 7th since 2004, and the first ever in the fall season.
After hatch-year female Rusty Blackbird

The bird was sexed as female based on its wing chord, not based on any plumage character.
After hatch-year female Rusty Blackbird

After hatch-year female Rusty Blackbird

Banding birds allows us to see in detail some areas of the plumage that are often not easily seen in the field, or overlooked. One of the volunteers today noticed the interesting pattern on this bird's undertail coverts, so here they are...
After hatch-year female Rusty Blackbird

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a flyover Sharp-shinned Hawk, calling Great Horned and Eastern Screech-Owls, a flyover American Pipit, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a very late Northern Waterthrush, and a Fox Sparrow.

Highlights of the 81 birds banded on Saturday, October 18 included the first three Eastern Phoebes of the season. Notice the narrow white outer web on the outer tail feathers.
Hatch-year Eastern Phoebe

Sometimes they can be quite yellow on the underparts.
Hatch-year Eastern Phoebe

The photo below shows what banders (after Pyle) call a "molt limit, with two different ages of secondary coverts evident seen as different colors and different wear in this case.
Hatch-year Eastern Phoebe

Among the three warbler species banded today were 7 Yellow-rumped (the season's peak so far), and this Palm Warbler which was somewhat late.
Hatch-year Palm Warbler

The most interesting warbler of the day was released before a photo was taken (I got distracted answering questions from visitors to the station). It was a Blackpoll Warbler, which was somewhat late. But it was this bird's weight that was of interest. Blackpoll Warblers normally weigh about 11-12 grams without any body fat, but to accomplish their long-distance migrations they can sometimes weigh considerably more. This bird weighed 19.2 grams. Many Blackpolls fly nonstop from the central Atlantic Coast of the U.S., not making landfall until they arrive in Venezuela, so extreme fat loads are needed to accomplish this. Late migrants in the Great Lakes seem to have the highest fat loads, with earlier migrants often having little fat. This suggests to me that the fat deposition changes based on day length more than where the bird is located in its migration.

A Field Sparrow was only the second of the season, which is more than normal here.

Interesting birds observed but not banded included a Fox Sparrow, and a flyover Pine Siskin.

Highlights of the 35 birds banded on Thursday, October 23 included yet another bunch of Hermit Thrushes. Overall, thrush migration this fall has been poor, but this species seems to be in near normal numbers. One individual showed very obvious "fault bars", which are an indication that all the tail feathers were grown simultaneously, which typically only occurs when the bird is in the nest. This bird also had some retained juvenile coverts with small buffy shaft streaks, and its skull was incompletely ossified, so every method of aging it was consistent with a hatch-year.
Hatch-year Hermit Thrush

Fault bars on hatch-year Hermit Thrush

Northern Cardinal almost never makes the photo highlights. One reason is that they are a fairly common breeding species in the banding area, though not too many are banded. Another reason is that they bite...HARD, and holding them for photos is an unpleasant experience. So here is a hatch-year female Northern Cardinal, aged by the presence of dusky coloration on the orange bill. Their bills are almost completely dusky when they leave the nest, and gradually turn bright orange into late fall.
Hatch-year female Northern Cardinal

Arriving at least a week later than expected was the season's first Fox Sparrow. Note the bicolored bill and arrow-shaped reddish spots on the lower breast and flanks.
Hatch-year Fox Sparrow

And arriving right on time, if not a bit early, were the first American Tree Sparrows, which usually signal the end of the migration. It was unusual to have so many (4) on the first day of their arrival here.
After hatch-year American Tree Sparrow

Interesting birds observed but not banded included somewhat late Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, and two Dark-eyed Juncos (a species yet to be banded this fall).

Highlights of the 10 (yes 10!) birds banded on Saturday, October 25 included a bird that one volunteer (Sarah) saw in the murky darkness as we set up the Field Nets, but captured on a later net run...a Wilson's Snipe! This is only the 3rd snipe ever banded at this site, the first was in spring 1991 and the second was just this past spring 2014.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Snipe

Hatch-year female Wilson's Snipe

The uniformly rounded and whitish-tipped secondary coverts indicated this was a hatch-year bird. The white outer web on the outermost primary was something I was surprised to see, though it is not useful for aging or sexing. The sex was determined by the measured length and shape of the outer tail feather, and the number of dark bars.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Snipe

The underwing pattern is one character that is useful in distinguishing Wilson's from the now separate species, the Common Snipe of the Old World.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Snipe

The bird was released on the ground, among the abundant leaf litter, where it briefly crouched attempting to become invisible, then it did a brief distraction display, then flew off strongly.
Hatch-year female Wilson's Snipe

An Orange-crowned Warbler was somewhat late, but not the latest we've ever had.
Hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warbler

And a banded American Tree Sparrow was initially presumed to be one of the four banded on October 23, but it turned out that it was banded on November 1, 2012, at this site, providing one of very few between-year returnees here (we don't band here in winter).
After hatch-year American Tree Sparrow

Interesting birds observed, but not banded, included flyover Northern Harrier and Sharp-shinned Hawk, three Bonaparte's Gulls and a single Caspian Tern, also flying over, calling Eastern Screech-Owl and Eastern Phoebe, and a calling Marsh Wren out near the Field Nets.

Banding Data
THURSDAY, October 16, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:46
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:30
Hours Open: 7.75
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 99.75
Temperature (F): 54-61
Cloud Cover: 100-20-100%
Wind: NW-W @ 1-3-7 mph
Barometer:  29.10-29.09
Precipitation: Fog in a.m, rain at close.
No. Banded: 33 (plus 10 recaptured)
No. of Species: 15
Capture Rate: 43.1 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.5 hours, 5:00-15:30): John Bieganowski, Ann McKlinsky, Edie Schmitz, Blanche Wicke.

Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Black-capped Chickadee - 2 recaptured]
[Tufted Titmouse - 1 recaptured]
[White-breasted Nuthatch - 1 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 1
Hermit Thrush - 10
Song Sparrow - 6 (plus 4 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 6
White-crowned Sparrow - 1
Rusty Blackbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)

SATURDAY, October 18, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:49
Time Open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 13:00
Hours Open: 7.0
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 91.50
Temperature (F): 46-48
Cloud Cover: 100-90-100%
Wind: NW @ 5-7-12 mph
Barometer: 29.10-29.30
Precipitation:  Trace rain at open
No. Banded: 81 (plus 8 recaptured, 4 released unbanded)
No. of Species: 18
Capture Rate: 101.6 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 10.0 hours, 5:00-15:00): Steve Mangas, Tom Schlack (5.0 hrs), Blanche Wicke.

Downy Woodpecker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Hairy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Eastern Phoebe - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Brown Creeper - 3
Winter Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 8 (plus 1 recaptured)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 4
Hermit Thrush - 16 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 7
Palm Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Field Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 7 (plus 1 recaptured)
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Swamp Sparrow - 14 (plus 1 released unbanded)
White-throated Sparrow - 9 (plus 1 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 3 (plus 1 released unbanded)

THURSDAY, October 23, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:54
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.75
No. of Nets: 4.0-12.0 (less nets because of fewer volunteers)
Net Hours: 76.00
Temperature (F): 39-55
Cloud Cover: 20-5%
Wind: NW @ 5-7-0 mph to SW @ 3-5
Barometer: 29.61-29.56
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 35 (plus 4 recaptured)
No. of Species: 9
Capture Rate: 51.3 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 9.0 hours, 5:00-14:00): Dave Lancaster, Blanche Wicke.

Golden-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 8
American Tree Sparrow - 4
Fox Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 12 (plus 3 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1
American Goldfinch - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)

SATURDAY, October 25, 2014
Sunrise (E.S.T.): 6:57
Time Open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time Closed (E.S.T.): 11:30 (gusty winds and a blizzard of falling leaves forced early close)
Hours Open: 6.00
No. of Nets: 5.0-14.0
Net Hours: 77.50
Temperature (F): 50-63
Cloud Cover: 100-80%
Wind: WSW-W @ 3-5-15 mph
Barometer: 29.23-29.15
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 10 (plus 3 recaptured)
No. of Species: 8
Capture Rate: 16.8 birds per 100 net hours
Volunteers (worked 8.0 hours, 5:00-13:00): Dave Lancaster, Ann McKlinsky, Sarah Toner, Blanche Wicke.

Brown Creeper - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 1
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1
[American Tree Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 2 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1

1 comment:

Jeff Stratford said...

Thanks for posting these with the age tips. Learning a ton.