Monday, September 5, 2016

Lake St. Clair Metropark Bird Banding Report - August 21-28, 2016

The last half of August was just as hot and steamy as the first half, so migration seemed to be a bit slow in getting started, and it was still tough getting volunteers to help, so only three days were covered for a total of 5 days in August versus the planned 8 days. Hopefully everything will pick up in early September.

Highlights of the 14 birds banded on Sunday, August 21, included four Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (always a highlight), but only two actual migrants, a Magnolia Warbler and an American Redstart.
Hatch-year Magnolia Warbler

There are still no known in-hand criteria that are 95% reliable for determining the sex of hatch-year Magnolia Warblers, although several field guides show "extremes" that presumably correlate to some degree with the sexes.
Hatch-year female American Redstart

Interesting birds observed, but not captured, included flyover Chimney Swifts, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and a few (18) migrating Purple Martins.

Highlights of the 8 birds banded on Wednesday, August 24 included 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which included an adult male.

At this station, during fall, very few adult hummingbirds are captured, and even fewer are adult males. The explanation for this is not known, but might have something to do with the marshy habitat and "coastal" location. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was the only other interesting capture, and we closed the nets early due to the heat (86 degrees F) and humidity (90%). An interesting non-bird highlight was a caterpillar found by Jacob who visited the site briefly on his rounds working in the park.
Raphia frater (The Brother) caterpillar

Initially I thought it might be a species of skipper, but it turned out to be a moth, which the field guide calls "The Brother (Raphia frater). It is a species I have not seen before. There were also other dragonfly highlights today including Lance-tipped Darner and Mottled Darner.

Highlights of the 33 birds banded on Sunday, August 28, again included Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (4). An interesting trend has begun, which may change, but more hatch-year females have been banded than males, which is the opposite of what we experienced back at the Point Rosa Marsh banding location.
Hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hatch-year birds are characterized by their newer feathers, which in this species show broad buffy fringes, which at this time of year allows them to be aged in the field as youngsters. Later in September though, a few adult females that have completed their post-breeding molt will be lingering and will also show these pale fringes, but on adults it tends to be concentrated only on the crown.

A smattering of migrants today included the season's first thrushes, a Veery and two Swainson's Thrushes. Most years back at the Point Rosa site these species were captured before mid-August, so it isn't clear if the difference is because of the new location, or the hot, dry summer climate this year.
Hatch-year Veery

Hatch-year Swasinson's Thrush

The first Ovenbirds and Northern Waterthrushes of the season were banded today. The waterthrush is another species that was often banded before mid-August at the Point Rosa site, but is just turning up at this new site in late August.
Hatch-year Ovenbird

After not capturing any for almost three weeks, it was a bit of a surprise to catch our second Yellow Warbler of the fall. Also surprising was that it was an adult male...the first was an adult female. Clearly we completely missed the chance to capture any of the young fledged in the park this summer (they are a very common nesting species).
After hatch-year male Yellow Warbler

A few pinfeathers can be seen on his crown; there were many more pinfeathers beneath the surface, so he was in heavy molt even though he looked fairly "clean" otherwise.
After hatch-year male Yellow Warbler

Other migrant warblers captured today included singles of Nashville and Black-throated Blue, and two Wilson's.
Hatch-year female Nashville Warbler

Hatch-year male Wilson's Warbler

Both Nashville and Wilson's warblers can be sexed by their crown color and pattern. The Nashville completely lacked chestnut in the crown, so was female, and the Wilson's had a more extensive black crown than a female would.
Hatch-year female Black-throated Blue Warbler

The female Black-throated Blue Warbler that we captured almost completely lacked the main field mark that many birders depend on for identification...a white patch at the base of the primaries. I see these very lightly marked individuals every fall season.

Nine more Magnolia Warblers were banded today, after the first one was captured on the 21st. One was unusual in that it had apparently lost half of its tail and grown it back, presenting an interesting opportunity to see the difference in the shapes of the rectrices in adult-type and juvenile-type.
Hatch-year Magnolia Warbler with
juvenile-type (left) and adult-type (right) tail feathers.

Interesting birds observed, but not banded today included a pair of Sandhill Cranes heard calling from the nearby marsh (not heard all summer), a Brown Thrasher that eluded capture, and a couple of flyover migrant Bobolinks. We closed the nets early again today due to the heat (84 degrees F) and humidity (90%).

Many thanks to the volunteers who made banding possible on these three days: Jacob Charlebois, Jean Gramlich, Stevie Kuroda, Kim Patrick, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, Christian Zammit, and Julian Zammit.

Bird Banding Results

August 21, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:30
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:30
Hours Open: 7.00
Net Hours: 114.00
Temperature (F): 64-77
Cloud Cover: 20-50%
Wind Direction: SW-W
Wind Speed (mph): 5-7-12
Barometer: 29.07 - 29.19
Precipitation:  None
No. Banded: 14 (plus 5 recaptured)
Species Captured: 10
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 16.7
Banding Assistants (8.5 hours worked): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, Christian Zammit (5.0 hrs), Julian Zammit (5.0 hrs). Happy Birthday Julian!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 4
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
House Wren - 2
[Marsh Wren - 1 recaptured]
American Robin - 3
Magnolia Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 1
Song Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
[American Goldfinch - 1 recaptured]

August 24, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time closed (E.S.T.): 11:45
Hours Open: 5.75 (clused early due to heat and humidity)
Net Hours: 84.375
Temperature (F): 72-86
Cloud Cover: 50-0-80%
Wind Direction: S
Wind Speed (mph): 1-3-10
Barometer: 29.54 - 29.45
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 8 (plus 2 recaptured)
Species Captured: 8
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 11.9
Banding Assistants (8.5 hours worked): Jacob Charlebois, (7.5  hrs), Jean Gramlich, Kim Patrick. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 3
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 1
Willow Flycatcher - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
[Marsh Wren - 1 recaptured]
American Robin - 1
Gray Catbird - 1
[Northern Cardinal - 1 recaptured]

August 28, 2016

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time closed (E.S.T.): 11:30
Hours Open: 5.75 (closed early due to heat and humidity)
Net Hours: 91.813
Temperature (F): 72-84
Cloud Cover: 50-100-80%
Wind Direction: SW-E
Wind Speed (mph): 1-3-5
Barometer: 29.51 - 29.57
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 33 (NONE recaptured!!!)
Species Captured: 17
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 35.9
Banding Assistants (7.5 hours worked): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson (7.0 hrs), Blanche Wicke. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 4
"Traill's" Flycatcher - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 2
Warbling Vireo - 1
House Wren - 1
Veery - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 2
American Robin - 2
Nashville Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 1
Magnolia Warbler - 9
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 1
Ovenbird - 2
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Wilson's Warbler -2
Song Sparrow - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1

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