June 2, 2016

Spring Season 2016 Fifth and Sixth Week Highlights

The last two weeks of banding this season netted us 648 new birds and 55 species. Below are some pictorial highlights:

The Three Rivers Birding Club from Pittsburgh admiring a Red-bellied Woodpecker.
Releasing a Great-crested Flycatcher
Banding Demonstration
A visitor helping to release a banded bird.
Banding a Yellow Warbler- our top species for this season
A Second Year Male Red-winged Blackbird
Banding a Wood Thrush.
Checking a Yellow Warbler for a brood patch. As we
didn't want to keep birds that were previously banded
off of their eggs for too long, we would record the extent
of their brood patch and release at net
Bay-breasted Warbler, one of only two caught this season.
Wilson's Warbler. One of our later migrants. We banded 18 this season.
Measuring the wing length of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Ovenbird. We banded 13 this season.
Black-throated Green Warbler. This species arrived later than usual this season.
Tennessee Warbler. For a few days they were singing
their little hearts out around the banding station.
Our BIC amazed to still be capturing
Magnolia Warblers on the very last day of banding.
Canada Warbler. This season we netted 7, all males.
Mourning Warbler, one of 11 we banded this year
Northern Parula. 
Chestnut-sided Warbler.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Our youngest volunteer, Addison, watching the
banding process very intently.
Philadelphia Vireo. This year we caught 4 and before that
we had not banded any since 2013.

June 1, 2016

Spring Season 2016 Fourth Week Highlights

The fourth week of spring banding this season was nothing short of crazy yet fantastic! The weather started out cool but sunny and by Friday we were experiencing winds so strong that they created crashing waves in the Bay and by Sunday it was nothing but periods of hail, snow, and rain throughout the day. And YET, we had three days of over a 100 birds banded and our biggest day yet in Audubon PA's history there with 318 birds banded! In total for the week, we banded 823 new birds of 55 species.

The 'fallout': May 11th started out as any other morning, there weren't any crazy weather fronts moving through and although we did have southerly winds overnight that had turned to northerly ones in the morning, that was nothing too out of the ordinary for here. We didn't even get all of the nets open before they started filling up with birds. The vegetation was filled with Blackburnians, Black-throated Blues, Cape Mays, and Yellow Warblers, the sandy pathway was covered with Palm Warblers and Lincoln Sparrows, and the dirt parking area saw its share of White-crowned Sparrows. It was simply magical to say the least! We are eternally grateful to our long-time volunteer, Frank Frisina, who actually left work that morning as soon as he got the call that help was desperately needed. Even with the two of us, it still took a while to get the nets shut as the birds were hitting the nets faster than we could extract and at one point, we were literally trying not to trip over them as they were practically everywhere. But, all the birds were safely extracted and we processed 250 of them, releasing close to 50 of them unprocessed due to various reasons, and then were able to reopen a few nets mid-afternoon for a grand total of 318 new birds banded.

Thursday and Friday, Tracy Graziano from the Pennsylvania Game Commission came out to record our work as well as interview us for a video that she is creating that documents the partnership between Audubon PA and the PA Game Commission. Stay tuned for a link to that video later this month.
 Also on Thursday, we began placing transmitters on birds as part of our project to better understand their movements throughout the area as well as the path that they take as they continue north on their journey. Friday and Sunday we closed early due to strong winds and then Sunday, after sitting at the one site in the intermittent hail, snow, and rain, for several hours we went over to the second site with the goal of specifically trying to catch two more Magnolia Warblers to tag. We had three nets open for less than a half hour and were surprised to discover 20-30 warblers in each net! Talk about an impressive birds per net hour average! Of course, since this was the weekend of crazy weather, the wind kicked up and it started hailing again as we tried to process the birds. Luckily we were able to keep the birds warm and dry in the trusty Subaru and our volunteer, who had already gone home for the day, came back to ferry birds two by two from the car to us to be processed. Haha did I mention yet how awesome our volunteers are?!

All in all, quite an amazing week!

Blue-winged Warbler.
Male Indigo Bunting. 
The only photo that I have from our
biggest day. Each of those bags has
birds waiting to be processed. And
there were even more in paper bags
on the table.
We had so many birds on Sunday that both banders were processing.
Where are the birds you may ask? Sitting in the car out of the cold
and intermittent hail storms.
Something about Palm Warblers this year really
living up to their name.

Cape May Warbler.
Tracy attaching a GoPro. 
Filming the banding process via a GOPro
attached to the head.
Male Black-throated Blue Warbler.
Net full of warblers! And another 20 or so
from another net hanging in bird bags 
on the tree in the background
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blackburnian Warbler (male)

Spring Season 2016 Third Week Highlights

The third week of spring banding this year saw northerly winds bringing in cooler temps creating a decrease in new arrivals and lower capture rates than the two weeks prior. We banded a total of 132 new birds of 33 species. 

Presque Isle Audubon's Festival of the Birds, which is always a fun time had by all, took place over the weekend of May 6-8th. Although we only captured 20 new birds each day, we were fortunate enough that we were still able to have at least one bird to show each group of visitors when they stopped by the banding station. And, boy, what a great group of visitors! Over a 100 people stopped by the banding station between the two days and were treated with up close views of the birds as well as the opportunity to help release some of them. Of course, we don't want to brag or anything, but when esteemed ornithologist, author, and illustrator, David Sibley, stops by your banding station on two consecutive days, one can't help but be quite excited. Yes, yes, he was the keynote speaker for the festival but it was still thrilling to have him stop by, sign some of his books, and release a Palm Warbler.

Banding Demonstration Festival of the Birds 2016

Sibley sharing his knowledge on Palm Warblers. 
Checking a Palm Warbler for moult limits.
Children and adults were thrilled to speak with Sibley.
David Sibley holding an appropriately named Palm Warbler
This visitor was so intrigued by the Catbird's whiskers,that she needed to go in for a closer look
Banding Demonstration Festival of the Birds 2016
Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow

Hooded Warbler (male)

Blue-headed Vireo. First one banded since 2013