Saturday, June 4, 2016

Lake St. Clair Metropark Bird Banding Report - May 26 - June 2, 2016

After my complaining in my last post about the lack of flycatchers and thrushes this spring, the flycatchers at least came through for the last 3 banding days of the season. Thrushes, not so much...

On Thursday, May 26, we opened the nets with a trace of rain that quickly subsided, and captured a total of 12 flycatchers. Of these, two were Eastern Wood-Pewees.
After hatch-year Eastern Wood-Pewee

Pewees show only a hint of an eye ring, and it is restricted to the rear half of the eye, so more like a "crescent". Their wing bars are not as prominent as on the Empidonax flycatchers, and in-hand they have very short legs. This leg length might be useful in the field as they often appear like their sitting low on the branch, whereas "Empids" show more leg. The remaining 10 flycatchers captured were all Empids, which included two Least and two Yellow-bellied, the latter a late migrant that is expected this time of year.
After hatch-year Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

This is perhaps the easiest Empid to identify in Michigan, with its large teardrop-shaped eye ring that is often yellowish or pale buffy, large head, greenish tones on all the upperparts, and yellow throat as well as yellow belly. More difficult to identify are Willow and Alder Flycatchers, which used to be considered one species, the "Traill's" Flycatcher. Even in-hand, many of these cannot be identified to species, so must be reported as "Traill's", but of today's captures, four measured out to Alder, one as Willow, and one was intermediate so left as Traill's.
After hatch-year Alder Flycatcher

Willow and Alder Flycatchers can be told from the other Empids in Michigan by their brownish-olive upperparts, sometimes slightly contrasting grayish-olive heads (as on the individual above, but often this is also brownish-olive), weak narrow or indistinct buffy eye rings, and clean white throats.

Vireos have not been much in evidence this spring, so it was nice to capture our first Red-eyed Vireo today.
After hatch-year Red-eyed Vireo

Four Swainson's Thrushes today were encouraging, but as it turned out would be the peak (and last) day for the season for them. An uncommon capture at any time was a Brown Thrasher.
After hatch-year Brown Thrasher

Although some warbler species tend to be later migrants, it was still a surprise that we had such a great day for warblers, which included 10 species captures plus one more observed only. The numbers of Yellow Warblers in this small (3 acre) area continues to amaze, and we banded 8 more today, including the 60th of the spring which broke the 10-year record of 59 back in the Point Rosa Marsh site.
After second-year male Yellow Warbler

Most of the 9 Magnolia Warblers captured today were females, signalling that their migration was nearing its end.
Second-year female Magnolia Warbler

Normally and early migrant, it was surprising that the first Black-throated Green Warblers of the spring were captured today. As with the Magnolias, both were females, indicating the end of migration was near.
Second-year female Black-throated Green Warbler

Both an early and late migrant, the 5 American Redstarts (all females) captured today was the peak (and last) of the season. The 3 Northern Waterthrushes were a surprise since we had a lot fewer than expected earlier in the month, when their migration typically peaks. An expected late migrant is Mourning Warbler, and the 4 banded today (2 males, 2 females) broke the spring record of 3 back at the marsh site, and tied the fall record for there.
After second-year male Mourning Warbler

After hatch-year female Mourning Warbler

Another later migrant is the Wilson's Warbler, and they arrived today with a vengeance, with 8 banded, most of them males.
After hatch-year male Wilson's Warbler

And another later migrant, which has been captured in fewer numbers each year, is Canada Warbler. All 3 that were banded today were females.
Second-year female Canada Warbler

Second-year female Canada Warbler

Other banding highlights today included a female Indigo Bunting, a single Lincoln's Sparrow, and 5 more Baltimore Orioles. Interesting species observed but not banded included a flyover Black-bellied Plover, a singing Great Crested Flycatcher, a male Eastern Bluebird, and 3 singing Blackpoll Warblers that came close to the nets, but never quite came low enough to be captured.

Sunday, May 29 was another flycatcher day, with 14 individuals of 4 species. Empidonax flycatchers dominated, with one Yellow-bellied, 2 Willow, 2 Alder, and 8 "Traill's" Flycatchers.
After hatch-year "Traill's" Flycatcher

A bit of a surprise was an Eastern Kingbird, which I've captured fewer than one each year back in the marsh.
After hatch-year female Eastern Kingbird

Both male and female Eastern Kingbirds have a concealed red crown patch. Determining the sex is done by the shape of the outermost primary, which has a longer and narrower "notch" in males, and shorter and broader as in this female.
After hatch-year female Eastern Kingbird

Fewer warblers were banded today, but did include a few more Yellow Warblers! But there were two surprises; one being a female Blackburnian Warbler. This species has been irregularly banded here, and not very often in spring.
After hatch-year female Blackburnian Warbler

After hatch-year female Blackburnian Warbler

In fall, Blackpoll Warblers are fairly numerous, but in spring I've banded very few. So it was a very pleasant surprise to capture a female today.
After hatch-year female Blackpoll Warbler

This might be a difficult ID challenge in the field, but the pale yellowish feet along with the greenish crown and back, with black streaks, and the black malar and side streaks, are helpful for identifying this as a female Blackpoll Warbler.
After hatch-year female Blackpoll Wasrbler

The tinge of yellow on the lower throat of this individual seemed a bit unusual, although I've banded fewer than 10 Blackpolls in my life in spring (hundreds in fall). We banded a LOT of Red-winged Blackbirds today (34), and a few more Baltimore Orioles, which is different from our experience back in the marsh where they seemed to move to other parts of the park after mid-May. Interesting species observed, but not banded today included two Green Herons, and a female Eastern Towhee (they're not known to breed here).

The final day of banding this spring was Thursday, June 2.Migrants are typically still moving during the first week of the month,and we did manage to band a few more Empidonax flycatchers; 2 Alder and 1 Yellow-bellied. Another Brown Thrasher was a good catch, and the male Cedar Waxwing was the first for the season, and the 70th species of the spring.
After hatch-year male Cedar Waxwing

Although this individual had 7 waxy tips on the secondaries, and females sometimes have none, the best way to determine their sex is by looking at the black on the chin and throat. Males are more extensively black there.
After hatch-year male Cedar Waxwing

Three more Yellow Warblers brought the season total to 68, and along with the 6 returnees from previous years (some from Point Rosa Marsh), was a record number by far. Two female Wilson's Warblers were also late migrants. And one more Baltimore Oriole brought the season's total to 24, which is 9 more than the record season back in the marsh.
After second-year male Baltimore Oriole

And the final bird of the season was a Song Sparrow, which was also the first species captured this species.
After hatch-year male Song Sparrow

And finally, here is some of the fine crew who helped out today.

Interesting birds observed but not banded today included a singing Willow Flycatcher, a singing second-year male American Redstart, and an Indigo Bunting.

Thanks to the following volunteers for making banding on these three days possible. John Bieganowski, Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kuroda, Dave Lancaster, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Ava Lau, Tessa Lau, Marie McGee, Bruce Watson, and Blanche Wicke.

Bird Banding Results

May 26, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 6.75
Net Hours: 110.375
Temperature (F): 70-79
Cloud Cover: 100-80%
Wind Direction: SE
Wind Speed (mph): 5-7-10
Barometer: 29.31 - 29.31
Precipitation: Trace rain in a.m.
No. Banded: 104 (plus 26 recaptured and 1 released unbanded)
Species Captured: 32
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 118.7
Banding Assistants (9.5 hours worked): Dave Lancaster, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Blanche Wicke (7.0 hrs). 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 2
Alder Flycatcher - 4
Willow Flycatcher - 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Least Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
[House Wren - 1 recaptured]
Swainson's Thrush - 4
American Robin - 5
Gray Catbird - 3
Brown Thrasher - 1
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 8 (plus 13 recaptured)
Magnolia Warbler - 9
Black-throated Green Warbler - 2
American Redstart - 5
Northern Waterthrush - 3
Mourning Warbler - 4
Common Yellowthroat - 3
Wilson's Warbler - 8
Canada Warbler - 3
Song Sparrow - 2
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 released unbanded)
Indigo Bunting - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 16 (plus 4 recaptured)
Common Grackle - 2
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Baltimore Oriole - 5 (plus 4 recaptured)
[American Goldfinch - 1 recaptured]
House Sparrow - 1

May 29, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 7.00
Net Hours: 113.50
Temperature (F): 68-81
Cloud Cover: 60-100-80%
Wind Direction: S
Wind Speed (mph): 3-5-10
Barometer: 29.40 - 29.37
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 66 (plus 21 recaptured and 3 released unbanded)
Species Captured: 17
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 79.3
Banding Assistants (9.0 hours worked): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 1
Northern Flicker - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 2
Willow Flycatcher - 2
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 8
Eastern Kingbird - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 1
House Wren - 1
American Robin - 2
Yellow Warbler - 3 (plus 11 recaptured)
Blackburnian Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 1
Wilson's Warbler - 2
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 34 (plus 3 recaptured, 3 released unbanded)
Common Grackle - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 3 (plus 4 recaptured)

June 2, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:15
Hours Open: 6.75
Net Hours: 110.375
Temperature (F): 63-81
Cloud Cover: 60%
Wind Direction: WSW
Wind Speed (mph): 1-3-10
Barometer: 29.31 - 29.35
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 23 (plus 13 recaptured)
Species Captured: 15
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 32.6
Banding Assistants (9.0 hours worked): John Bieganowski, Jacob Charlebois (2.5 hrs), Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Ava Lau, Tessa Lau, Marie McGee (6.0 hrs), Blanche Wicke (7.0 hrs).

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
Alder Flycatcher - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 1 recaptured]
American Robin - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
[Gray Catbird - 1 recaptured]
Brown Thrasher - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Yellow Warbler - 3 (plus 4 recaptured)
Wilson's Warbler - 2
Song Sparrow - 3 (1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 2 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 4 (plus 1 recaptured)
Baltimore Oriole - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[American Goldfinch - 1 recaptured]