Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lake St. Clair Metropark Bird Banding Report - 16 April 2016

My intended protocol for banding twice each week is really taking a beating so far. As reported for April 3, winter made an unwelcome return, and from that date until about April 12, conditions were clearly unsuitable for spring banding, with snow and freezing temperatures on many days. So, after a lapse of 13 days, we were all happy to return to the park to band birds. And we weren't disappointed. There were LOTS of birds around, including a few birds that head north early in the spring, and others in numbers greater than we ever had back in the Pt. Rosa Marsh banding area.

Eastern Phoebes are, by far, the earliest migrant flycatcher through the park, so it was expected that they would be around today, and we managed to catch one of them.
Second-year Eastern Phoebe

Tree Swallows have been back for a while, but the last time we banded it was so chilly that they were not hanging around the nest boxes in the banding area, but instead were hawking for insects low over the water in the marshes. Today, they were back at the boxes and we caught one that was not banded. I'm hoping to catch one (of 18) that I banded last summer as a nestling.
After hatch-year male Tree Swallow

The close-up below shows the black forward-facing feathers in front of the eyes that is thought to act as an anti-glare mechanism to help them see better when catching insects in flight.
After hatch-year male Tree Swallow

Winter Wrens were also in evidence today, and the 4 captured was one greater in a single spring day than at the Point Rosa site.
After hatch-year Winter Wren

After hatch-year Winter Wren

Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets migrate in mid-April, with Golden-crowned moving through earlier. The 32 Golden-crowned Kinglets banded today was an indication that we were still in the early part of kinglet migration, although the preponderance of females suggests that we're in the latter part of their movements. They will be entirely gone before the end of April here. And it was far more than I've ever banded in a single spring day in Point Rosa Marsh (but not more than in fall). Ruby-crowned Kinglets are expected to start migrating in mid-April, but the 5 banded today was a bit more than expected for this early, and all were males as anticipated.
After hatch-year male Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Hermit Thrushes have been trickling into the state for the past couple of weeks, but the 18 banded today was clearly an influx, and more than on any spring (but not fall) day in Point Rosa Marsh.
Second-year Hermit Thrush

It was also a good sparrow day, which should be the case throughout the month of April. Not the first banded of the spring, this White-throated Sparrow was so bright that I wanted to include a photo, and its plumage was fresh so it may have been a migrant rather than an overwintering bird. I sometimes see birders refer to "female" or "immature" White-throated Sparrows based on their brightness or dullness, but this is extremely variable, to the point that as banders we cannot age or sex them based on any plumage characters.
After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

After hatch-year White-throated Sparrow

Early migrating sparrows were also well represented, with 2 American Tree Sparrows, and the first (and possibly last) Dark-eyed Junco of the spring.
After hatch-year female Dark-eyed Junco

It was an excellent day for Fox Sparrows, with the 6 banded equaling the highest for a single day in spring at the Point Rosa Marsh banding site.
After hatch-year Fox Sparrow

Two Field Sparrows were a surprise, as they have not yet peaked in migration, and was more than any spring day previously.
After hatch-year Field Sparrow

The lack of Common Grackles captured so far seems a little surprising. Perhaps they prefer to forage in the swamp woods instead of a meadow in the spring. Only one was captured today.
After second-year female Common Grackle

Interesting recaptures included two Northern Cardinals banded at the station in Point Rosa Marsh (0.4 miles away), one in 2014 and one in 2012. 

Thanks very much to Annie Crary, Stevie Kuroda, Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke for helping out today. It is always great to have such capable volunteers on very busy days.

Bird Banding Results

April 16, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open:7.0
Net Hours:114.00
Temperature (F):41-66
Cloud Cover: 20-10%
Wind Direction:Calm-N-E
Wind Speed (mph):0-5
Barometer: 30.38 - 30.44
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 127 (plus 16 recaptured and 2 released unbanded)
Species Captured:25
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 127.2
Banding Assistants (8.5 hours worked): Annie Crary, Stevie Kuroda (8.0 hrs), Joan Tisdale, Bruce Watson (8.0 hrs), Blanche Wicke.

[Downy Woodpecker - 1 recaptured]
Northern Flicker - 1
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue Jay - 1
Tree Swallow - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[Tufted Titmouse - 1 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 1
Winter Wren - 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 32
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 5
Hermit Thrush - 18
American Robin - 7 (plus 3 recaptured)
American Tree Sparrow - 2
Field Sparrow - 2
Fox Sparrow - 6
Song Sparrow - 13 (plus 3 recaptures)
Swamp Sparrow - 8
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Northern Cardinal - 3 (plus 6 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Red-winged Blackbird - 13 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 2
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 2

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