June 5, 2015

2015 Spring End of Season Totals

Volunteer Sam Stull releasing a Red-eyed Vireo on the last day of spring banding The bird sat there for a few minutes before flying off and singing a beautiful farewell tune. It seemed like a very apropos end to the season.

Whoa, is everyone sitting down?!

The tallies are in for the 2015 spring banding season here on beautiful Presque Isle State Park.

Over the course of six weeks (34 banding days), we banded 1,262 new birds from 70 different species! We netted an additional 35 birds that were not banded for one reason or another (ie, we don't have a special permit for hummingbirds). We also recaptured an additional 90 birds that were either banded in previous years or previously in the same season. This means our grand total for birds processed was 1,387 birds this year. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself (and I do!) :)

Our number one bird band was, as you can probably guess, the Gray Catbird coming in with a whopping 218 newly banded birds. Second Place was, you also probably guessed it, the Yellow Warbler with 150 newly banded birds. Third place goes to the White-throated Sparrow with 100 new birds. A nice surprise was the 86 new Magnolia Warblers we caught this spring as well as the 62 new Blackpoll Warblers. All in all though, it was a great season and each bird is always special in its own way.

The following are the totals for the birds that we banded. They are ordered by band size/how they're recorded in the book- so generally, from smallest to largest.

American Redstart: 37
Wilson's Warbler: 15
Magnolia Warbler: 86
Tennessee Warbler: 5
Black-throated Green Warbler: 9
Chestnut-sided Warbler: 30
Nashville Warbler: 14
Northern Parula: 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: 3
Black-and-White Warbler: 21
Brown Creeper: 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 2
Blue-winged Warbler: 2
Cerulean Warbler: 1
Least Flycatcher: 5
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher: 8
Trail's Flycatcher (Alder/Willow): 20
Black-throated Blue Warbler: 19
Yellow Warbler: 150
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle's): 44
Common Yellowthroat: 64
Blackpoll Warbler: 62
Bay-breasted Warbler: 21
Canada Warbler: 10
Hooded Warbler: 5
Blackburnian Warbler: 8
Warbling Vireo: 3
Palm Warbler (Western): 19
House Wren: 11
Cape May Warbler: 6
American Goldfinch: 1
Chipping Sparrow: 1
Field Sparrow: 1
Eastern Phoebe: 1
Lincoln's Sparrow: 22
Mourning Warbler: 7
Red-eyed Vireo: 17
Northern Waterthrush: 17
Swamp Sparrow: 11
Ovenbird: 10
Indigo Bunting: 1
Dark-eyed Junco: 1
White-throated Sparrow: 100
White-crowned Sparrow: 4
Swainson's Thrush: 26
Gray-cheeked Thrush: 5
Veery: 7
Hermit Thrush: 7
White-breasted Nuthatch: 4
Song Sparrow: 14
Downy Woodpecker: 2
Wood Thrush: 4
Gray Catbird: 218
Brown-headed Cowbird: 3
Eastern Kingbird: 1
Tufted Titmouse: 1
Red-winged Blackbird: 14
Baltimore Oriole: 21
Great-crested Flycatcher: 3
Eastern Towhee: 4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak: 3
Northern Cardinal: 8
Spotted Sandpiper: 1
Hairy Woodpecker: 2
American Robin: 16
Red-bellied Woodpecker: 1
Brown Thrasher: 4
Blue Jay: 4
Northern Flicker: 4
American Woodcock: 1

And, of course, a big THANK YOU to ALL of our volunteers! We couldn't have done it without you. We were especially fortunate this year because we now have three generations of volunteers from the same family helping us and the youngest, Miss Addison, was always eager to help whether it be carry a bird in its bag safely back to the banding table or show her other young friends how interesting birds can be. I wanted to highlight this because children like her are a great example of why we do what we do- her future and the birds future is one in the same and so I felt it appropriate to close the season with photos of both her and the birds.  To quote the song that will now be stuck in everyone's head (sorry!): "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way."

Addison Miller eagerly carrying a bird back to the banding table to be processed. This was a bird that her grandfather, Frank Frisina, just extracted from the net and she is helped by her aunt, Catherine Frisina. Volunteering runs deep in this family and we couldn't be more grateful!

Jessica Miller showing her daughter, Addison, a beautiful Yellow Warbler up close.
Miss Addy showing her friend, Abby, how wonderful birds are (in particular, a male Blackpoll Warbler). 

Hope everyone has a great summer and remember, fall will be here before you know it and it will be time to play the warbler guessing game all over again!

May 27, 2015

Drumrolll please....

The 1,300th bird that was extracted from the nets here at Presque Isle State Park and processed this season was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. He was caught with his lady friend and they will now forever also be tied together with matching bands bearing sequential numbers.

Did you know? The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak takes a turn incubating the eggs for several hours during the day, while the female incubates the rest of the day and all night long. Both sexes sing quietly to each other when they exchange places. Pretty sweet, huh ladies? 


The 1,200th bird to be banded this season was this lovely little lady pictured below: a female Blackpoll Warbler. 

Unlike the grosbeaks pictured above, this pretty lady is still on her way up to her breeding grounds in the Canadian boreal forest. Did you know, not only does the male Blackpoll Warbler have one of the highest pitched songs of all birds but they also have one of the most fascinating (and amazing!) migratory routes? Part of their fall migratory route is over the Atlantic Ocean. This route averages 3,000 km (1,864 mi) over open water, requiring a potentially nonstop flight of up to 88 hours. To accomplish this flight, these amazing little warblers nearly double their body mass and take advantage of a shift in prevailing wind direction to direct them to their destination.  Impressive!

May 24, 2015

How I Met Your Mother (Presque Isle Style)

As many of you know we don't just catch the migratory birds here at Presque Isle, we also catch a lot of the local breeding population. Some of our recapture data shows the same birds returning to the same banding site around the same time each year. It's pretty amazing that they are that site faithful but it's true, we almost never recapture a bird that was banded at one site at the other site and vice versa. And considering these birds flew all the way from the tropics to nest here, what's a few extra miles, right? Well, apparently it's a lot to them. So, as they are reestablishing territories we often catch two of the same species in the net together. Sometimes it's two males that are still squawking at each other and sometimes it's a male and a female. So I like to think that the latter pair will look back some day and tell their children about that one fateful day that they met in a mist net at Fry's Landing. I'm joking, of course, but it is a lot of fun and very interesting data that we recover from monitoring these local breeders.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher pair that was caught together in the net. Because this was a known mated pair that I had been watching build a nest for over a week, when we gave them sequential bands, we also pronounced them husband and wife. Clearly, one of them looks more thrilled than the other.
Photo by Gigi Gerben
Male and Female Baltimore Oriole caught together in the same net. This was taken at Niagara Boat Launch but we have a wonderful view of a nesting pair of orioles at Fry's Landing. Orioles build some of the coolest nests and we'd be happy to point it out to you if you stop by and see us this week!
Photo by Gigi Gerben

Male and female Yellow Warblers. The most common pairs found in the nets.

A typical Yellow Warbler nest

A female Yellow Warbler with a brood patch- with that extensive of a brood patch she is almost surely sitting on eggs. The females use their bare skin to help regulate the temperature of the eggs on which they sit. 
Not the best photo but that is actually a photo of a gravid Gray Catbird, ie she is with egg. On average, a catbird will lay four eggs, one on each consecutive day, after which she will sit and incubate them while being fed by the male until the eggs hatch about 12-13 days later.