Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring is here - Bird banding begins at Lake St. Clair Metropark

After a warmer than normal winter, we were glad for reasonable temperatures on our first banding day of the spring on Sunday April 2. But the wetter than normal conditions continued into early spring, and our net lanes were quite wet. The photo below shows the Channel Nets, and the net lane is almost indistinguishable from the channel! We managed to dodge the weather and band on four days between April 2 and 18.

Highlights of the 51 birds of 10 species banded on Sunday, April 2 included a Northern Flicker, which is an infrequently captured species at this site.
Second-year female Northern Flicker

This Golden-crowned Kinglet, one of 7 banded today, was the first bird banded this spring.
After hatch-year male Golden-crowned Kinglet

A Carolina Wren was singing in the banding area as soon as the sun came up, but we didn't catch this bird, which was originally banded here last year, until a few hours later...and when it was in-hand, there was still a Carolina Wren singing in the area!
After hatch-year Carolina Wren.

Spring banding is started at this locale the first week of April so that the migration period of earliest migrants (like Golden-crowned Kinglets and others) is fully documented. We also typically catch some winter residents as they start heading north, like this American Tree Sparrow (one of 3 today).
After hatch-year American Tree Sparrow

Interesting birds observed, but not banded, included a winnowing Wilson's Snipe, and early Eastern Phoebe, and a very early House Wren singing lustily from an area between the "Thicket" and "Bat" nets.

Our second banding day was Saturday, April 8, and although there was another period of rain mid-week, it wasn't the 2 inches of the week before. So, the water was a bit diminished, but not entirely gone as this photo of the Channel Nets taken from the same spot as the photo above shows.

Highlights of the 76 birds of 18 species captured included more of the expected early migrants including Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, and an early White-throated Sparrow.
After hatch-year Brown Creeper
After hatch-year Winter Wren
After hatch-year Fox Sparrow
Another Carolina Wren was captured (this one unbanded), and 5 more American Tree Sparrows, along with another over-wintering species, Dark-eyed Junco.
Second-year female Dark-eyed  Junco
Interesting birds observed, but not captured, included a migrating group of Turkey Vultures, a flyover Great Egret, a flyover Common Loon, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and the same (?) singing House Wren from last week.

Highlights of the 52 birds of 15 species banded on Friday, April 14, included two Northern Flickers and two Tree Swallows, which nest in boxes very near the Meadow Nets but can easily see the nets if it isn't cloudy or foggy. 
After hatch-year Tree Swallow
Another Winter Wren was only the second this spring, and two Hermit Thrushes today brought the spring total up to about a half-dozen.
Second-year Hermit Thrush
And among a number of Golden-crowned Kinglets was the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season.
After hatch-year male Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Interesting birds observed, but not banded, included flyover Bonaparte's Gull and Caspian Tern, and two Common Loons migrating north and calling to each other. 

Highlights of the 47 birds of 18 species banded on Tuesday, April 18, included yet another Northern Flicker, and a Brown Thrasher which had been singing in the area. It is a species that is expected around this time of year, but is an uncommonly captured species in the park. 
After hatch-year Brown Thrasher
Much more surprising was a very early Wood Thrush.
After hatch-year Wood Thrush
Another interesting capture was an early White-crowned Sparrow. This individual was in the middle of molting out of its juvenile brown-and-buff crown pattern into its adult black-and-white crown pattern. I've never captured one at this stage of molt before. By the time they typically arrive in southern Michigan in late April or early May, they have all completely molted. So this individual may have wintered farther north than most, and gotten an early start on migration.
Second-year White-crowned Sparrow
Second-year male White-crowned Sparrow
Interesting birds observed, but not banded today included an American Bittern calling from the North Marsh and audible from the banding table, a migrating "V" of 6 Great Egrets, a near-adult Bald Eagle, and the House Wren present since April 2 continued to sing, but evaded the nets once again!

Many thanks to the following volunteers for making banding possible on these four days: Steve Carlson, Jacob Charlebois, Joe Grabowski, Jean Gramlich, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Stevie Kuroda, Steve Mangas, Matthew Porter, Bruce Watson, Blanche Wicke, Christian Zammit, Julian Zammit.

Bird Banding Results

April 2, 2017

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:15
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.5
Net Hours: 117.0
Temperature (F): 39-57
Cloud Cover: 20-50%
Wind Direction: SW-S
Wind Speed (mph): 3-5-7
Barometer: 30.23 - 30.20
Precipitation:  None
No. Banded: 51 (plus 4 recaptured, 1 released unbanded)
Species Captured: 10
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 47.9
Banding Assistants (9.5 hours worked): Steve Carlson, Jacob Charlebois, Stevie Kurda (7.0 hrs), Bruce Watson (7.0 hrs), Christian Zammit, Julian Zammit. 

Northern Flicker - 1
[Carolina Wren - 1 recaptured]
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 7
American Robin - 5
American Tree Sparrow - 3
Song Sparrow - 13 (plus 2 recaptured)
Northern Cardinal - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 7 (plus 1 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 11 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Sparrow - 2

April 8, 2017

Time open (E.S.T.): 5:45
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open: 7.0
Net Hours: 116.0
Temperature (F): 36-55
Cloud Cover: 20-0-10%
Wind Direction: WNW-SW
Wind Speed (mph): 3-5-10
Barometer: 30.04 - 30.11
Precipitation: None
No. Banded: 76 (plus 12 recaptured, 3 released unbanded)
Species Captured:  18
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 78.4
Banding Assistants (9.5 hours worked): Stevie Kuroda, Bruce Watson.

Downy Woodpecker - 1
[Black-capped Chickadee - 3 recaptured]
Brown Creeper - 2
Carolina Wren - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Winter Wren - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Tree Sparrow - 5
Fox Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 11 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Dark-eyed Junco - 1
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 2 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 19 (plus 2 released unbanded)
American Goldfinch - 23 (plus 3 recaptured)
House Sparrow - 3 (plus 1 released unbanded)

April 14, 2017

Time open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open:  6.75
Net Hours: 113.75
Temperature (F): 43-57
Cloud Cover: 40-20%
Wind Direction: ENE-SE
Wind Speed (mph): 5-7-10
Barometer: 30.38 - 30.41
Precipitation:  None
No. Banded: 52 (plus 8 recaptured)
Species Captured: 15
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 52.7
Banding Assistants (9.0 hours worked): Jean Gramlich, Harry Lau, Rose Lau, Matthew Porter. 

Northern Flicker - 2
Tree Swallow - 2
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
Winter Wren - 1
Brown Creeper - 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Hermit Thrush - 2
American Robin - 6 (plus 2 recaptured)
[American Tree Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Song Sparrow - 4 (plus 2 recaptured)
Swamp Sparrow - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 13 (plus 1 recaptured)
American Goldfinch - 6 (plus 1 recaptured)
House Sparrow - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)

April 18, 2017

Time open (E.S.T.): 6:00
Time closed (E.S.T.): 12:45
Hours Open:  6.75
Net Hours: 113.75
Temperature (F): 39-60
Cloud Cover: 20-50-10%
Wind Direction: NE-SE
Wind Speed (mph): 5-7-10
Barometer: 30.40 - 30.37
Precipitation:  None
No. Banded: 47 (plus 15 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
Species Captured: 15
Capture Rate (#/100 net hours): 56.3
Banding Assistants (9.5 hours worked): Joe Grabowski, Steve Mangas, Blanche Wicke.

Northern Flicker - 1
Black-capped Chicakdee - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Brown Creeper - 1
[Golden-crowned Kinglet - 1 recaptured]
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 3
Hermit Thrush - 1
Wood Thrush - 1
[American Robin - 1 recaptured]
Brown Thrasher - 1
[American Tree Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
[Song Sparrow - 2 recaptured]
[Swamp Sparrow - 1 recaptured]
Northern Cardinal - 1 (plus 1 recaptured)
Red-winged Blackbird - 22 (plus 3 recaptured, 2 released unbanded)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 2
American Goldfinch - 11 (plus 4 recaptured)
House Sparrow - 1

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