Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Banding

During the summer I monitor the breeding birds in the area by going out once a week between spring and fall migration. We banded 7 times between 18 June and 29 July netting 371 birds of 22 species- 282 new birds, 79 recaptures and 10 birds that escaped before processing. We run our nets an average of 5 hours with some days only getting 3 hours in if temps get too high. All our banding this summer was done in the Punkhorn, a huge area of overgrown cranberry bogs, with the exception on some trapping done in my yard for orioles and hummingbirds.

By the 18th of June some birds had already started their annual molt and the phoebes nesting on top of the light fixture in the generator house had fledged. We were excited this day to band another Alder Flycatcher who was captured in a net where the male was singing. The male started singing on 19 May, continuing through the month of June, and then we ceased to hear him after 11 July. I suspected the 2nd Alder was a female due to her short wing and I was right. We recaptured her on the 11 July with a full brood patch! Neither the Birds of Massachusetts published in 1993 or the Mass Breeding Bird Atlas published in 2003 show Alders breeding on cape, the closest being northern Plymouth County. So it was an exciting find.

Our other neat capture on June 18th was the recapture of the oldest Common Yellowthroat on record according to the Bird Banding Laboratory longevity records. Our guy is officially 11 years old now and the oldest on record was caught in 1985 in New Jersey aged 10 years 11 months. We acutally recaptured him 3 times this season so we know the band was read correctly! He is aged 12Y (12 year) because he has entered his 12th year. His plumage was interesting in that he had some yellow feathers mixed in with the grayish-white feathers on his head.

The 18th also yielded our first Hairy Woodpecker for the season, a SY (second year) male. It always amazes me just how large their bill is compared to the Downy!

Our Downy from 16 July was a young male, he still had his red feathers on top of his head. As he molts his body feathers black ones will replace the red which will migrate to the back of his head.

Our first of many baby catbirds was caught on 4 July. Catbirds were the most abundant bird this summer.

We also banded an Orchard Oriole on the fourth, a species we don't handle very often. They are slightly smaller than Baltimore Orioles and take a smaller band size. The young of both sexes look similar but we can sex them most of the time by the length of their wing. This was a young female.

On July 16th we had a rare capture of a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We have never banded one in the summer before so it was a surprise to find this SY male in the net.

It was an enjoyable summer banding at our old site, but we look forward to getting back to Wing Island for fall migration. Many thanks to all who helped out this summer: Gretchen Putonen, Claire Revekant, Rob Finer, Donna Kucia (who inputs all our data), Eric Russell (who keeps our nets clear), Judith Bruce, Cheryl Baer, Bridget Strejc, Jo-Anna Ghadban, Ron Kielb, Emilie Seavey, Grace Veres, and Corey Accardo.

Our top ten species for the summer were:

SPECIES                             # BANDED
Gray Catbird                                90
Common Yellowthroat                  70
Ovenbird                                      40
Baltimore Oriole                           20
Eastern Towhee                            13
Black-capped Chickadee                 9
Song Sparrow                                7
Ruby-throated Hummingbird           4
Yellow Warbler                             4
Downy Woodpecker                       4