Monday, November 2, 2015

Fall Bird Banding at Lake St. Clair Metropark

From 1989-1999, Ellie Cox banded songbirds in an area of Point Rosa marsh that encompased a transition from a swamp woods to cattail marsh, along the maintenance road at Lake St. Clair Metropark, Macomb County, Michigan. For most of those years, I was a regular banding assistant. From 2004-2014, I continued banding in this same area under my own master banding permit. In recent years, efforts have been undertaken to restore the hydrology of these wetlands. In 2014, the banding area became flooded, partly due to these restoration efforts and partly due to above average rainfall, making banding in the area much more difficult. With 10 years of data from Ellie Cox, and 10 years of my own data, it seemed like a good time to end the banding efforts in Point Rosa marsh. So, in 2015 I began looking for a new site within the same park, and during September and October I tried out an area adjacent to the Meadow Loop, close to the Nature Center.












Access to this site is much easier, with almost no mud or water to walk through, and the few volunteers who helped this fall really enjoyed it. Net runs are shorter, as the acreage where the nets are set up is about 3 acres vs. about 7 acres back in the marsh. Sitting in the mowed field adjacent to the banding area has a clear view of the open sky to the north. On one day in late September, when the wind direction shifted from northwest to southwest, suddenly the sky was filled with Broad-winged Hawks. Over 3500 went by that day.
Broad-winged Hawks














video

On a slow day in late September, I was able to drive around in the parking area looking for a previously reported Buff-breasted Sandpiper, between net runs. I did not find the bird there, but after we closed the nets that day I did find it on the beach.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper













This fall banding was done on 14 days from September 6 - October 25, with nets open 83.75 hours (1005 net hours). The 10-year average in Point Rosa Marsh was 24 days, with nets open an average of 158 hours (1800 net hours). This is about 60% of a full fall season's efforts, and hopefully beginning in 2016 there will be enough volunteers available for a full effort again.

A total of 632 birds of 54 species was banded, plus 41 recaptured (some originally banded in Point Rosa marsh!), for  total of 673 total captures and a capture rate of 66.9 birds per 100 net hours. The 10-year average in Point Rosa marsh was 1714 banded of 70 species, plus 303 recaptured and released unbanded, for an average total of 2017 total captures, and an average capture rate of 112.1 birds per 100 net hours. So, the number banded, and species diversity at the new Meadow site, does compare favorably to the Point Rosa marsh site. A complete list of the birds banded this fall follows the photo highlights below.

This new site appears to be a great place to capture and band American Woodcocks. The total of 4 banded this fall equals the previous 10 years combined in Point Rosa marsh, including both spring and fall!
American Woodcock. Hatch-year male. Note shorter bill.












American Woodcock. Hatch-year female. Note longer bill.















The 35 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds banded was a good number, considering the late start to the season. Also missing from the nets were flycatchers, as many are captured during August and early September. One exception was Eastern Phoebes, which were captured in numbers 5 times the 10-year average in Point Rosa marsh.
Eastern Phoebe. Hatch-year.













And, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on October 7 was a surprise, and very late.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Hatch-year.













Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Hatch-year













Another surprise, since very few have come south in Michigan this fall, was a Red-breasted Nuthatch captured in a net in a fairly open habitat.
Red-breasted Nuthatch. Hatch-year female.














Kinglet and thrush numbers were comparable to Point Rosa marsh, compensating for the reduced effort (see below), and there were some good days of warbler migration as well. The abundant goldenrod in the area was good for certain species, including Nashville, Tennessee, and Orange-crowned Warblers.
Orange-crowned Warbler. Hatch-year male.














A Northern Parula was caught very low in a net adjacent to a row of pines. There were no conifers in the Point Rosa banding site.
Northern Parula. Hatch-year female.














And it was nice to capture another species associated with pines, the Black-throated Green Warbler.
Black-throated Green Warbler. Hatch-year female.














Sparrow numbers were modest, although a couple of Field Sparrows were interesting, and the prime habitat where we were expecting to capture good numbers was mowed by the park staff before the migrant sparrows arrived. One surprise was this Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Hatch-year male.














And here is a complete list of the birds banded this fall at the new site, with the capture rate in parentheses. The 10-year fall average from the Point Rosa marsh site for each species is shown in brackets [avg. no. (avg. capture rate)]. Any number greater than about 50% of this 10-year average indicates a good number captured, but of course this is only a single season of data.

American Woodcock - 4 (0.40) [0.1 (0.01)]
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 35 (3.48) [80.5 (6.35)]
Downy Woodpecker - 5 (0.50) [7.9 (0.62)]
Northern Flicker - 1 (0.1) [3.3 (0.26)]
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1 (0.1) [2.9 (0.23)]
Willow Flycatcher - 1 (0.1) [3.4 (0.27)]
Eastern Phoebe - 15 (1.49) [2.4 (0.19)]
Blue-headed Vireo - 3 (0.30) [3.4 (0.27)]
Red-eyed Vireo - 11 (1.09) [5.0 (0.39)]
Blue Jay - 6 (0.60) [4.3 (0.34)]
Black-capped Chickadee - 15 (1.49) [15.0 (1.18)]
Tufted Titmouse - 4 (0.40) [2.1 (0.17)]
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1 (0.10) [1.5 (0.12)]
Brown Creeper - 6 (0.60) [18.0 (1.42)]
House Wren - 6 (0.60) [16.9 (1.33)]
Winter Wren - 9 (0.89) [16.2 (1.28)]
Marsh Wren - 2 (0.20) [5.9 (0.47)]
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 22 (2.19) [65.8 (5.19)]
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 87 (8.65) [48.2 (3.80)]
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 16 (1.59) [12.6 (0.99)]
Swainson's Thrush - 32 (3.18) [34.7 (2.73)]
Hermit Thrush - 53 (5.27) [79.1 (6.23)]
American Robin - 9 (0.89) [24.9 (1.96)]
Gray Catbird - 7 (0.70) [16.7 (1.32)]
Tennessee Warbler - 12 (1.19) [16.5 (1.30)]
Orange-crowned Warbler - 6 (0.60) [5.7 (0.45)]
Nashville Warbler - 46 (4.57) [50.5 (3.98)]
Northern Parula - 1 (0.1) [1.3 (0.10)]
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1 (0.1) [6.9 (0.54)]
Magnolia Warbler - 22 (2.19) [35.5 (2.80)]
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 4 (0.40) [32.8 (2.59)]
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1 (0.10) [16.5 (1.30)]
Black-throated Green Warbler - 2 (0.20) [1.4 (0.11)]
Palm Warbler - 2 (0.20) [6.1 (0.48)]
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1 (0.10) [5.1 (0.40)]
Blackpoll Warbler - 3 (0.30) [16.8 (1.32)]
American Redstart - 15 (1.49) [15.3 (1.21)]
Ovenbird - 1 (0.10) [13.9 (1.10)]
Northern Waterthrush - 2 (0.20) [8.2 (0.65)]
Common Yellowthroat - 16 (1.59) [64.6 (5.09)]
Wilson's Warbler - 7 (0.70) [14.4 (1.13)]
Canada Warbler - 1 (0.10) [5.1 (0.40)]
Northern Cardinal - 14 (1.39) [14.7 (1.16)]
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1 (0.10) [1.5 (0.12)]
Field Sparrow - 2 (0.20) [1.8 (0.14)]
Fox Sparrow - 6 (0.60) [8.3 (0.65)]
Song Sparrow - 14 (1.39) [162.6 (12.82)]
Lincoln's Sparrow - 5 (0.50) [12.1 (0.95)]
Swamp Sparrow - 11 (1.09) [72.3 (5.70)]
White-throated Sparrow - 61 (6.07) [217.1 (17.11)]
White-crowned Sparrow - 1 (0.10) [23.2 (1.83)]
Dark-eyed Junco - 6 (0.60) [4.2 (0.33)]
American Goldfinch - 16 (1.59) [278.5 (21.95)]
House Sparrow - 1 (0.10) [0.0 (0.0)]

Thank you to the following volunteers (hours in parentheses) for helping this fall. Email me in early spring (March) if you want to volunteer in 2016.

Allen Chartier (114.5)
John Bieganowski (26.0)
Jacob Charlebois (7.5)
Neil Gilbert (8.5)
Stevie Kuroda (72.5)
Dave Lancaster (25.0)
Steve Mangas (4.0)
Joan Tisdale (44.5)
Bruce Watson (72.5)
Blanche Wicke (67.0)

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