July 1, 2013

End of the Season Tally for Spring 2013

Hello friends,

I finally just tallied up our totals for the spring season.  Here are the numbers: we banded on 15 days, caught 377 new birds and had 76 recaptures in 388 mist-net hours.  A mist-net hour is the standard unit of effort for bird banding, with one mist-net hour meaning one standard sized mist-net (12 m long) being open for one hour.
I am still working on the data entry to get the number of species and how many of each we caught.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who came out to help this spring, and thanks especially to Presque Isle Audubon Society for major financial support and the others of you who sent donations as well.

All for now,

Sarah Sargent
Audubon PA

Michele, Jason, Barb and Ruth at the Niagara Boat Launch banding site in May, 2013.

May 12, 2013

Banding Highlights May 10 and 11

Friday at Fry's and Saturday at Niagara Highlights. May 10-11

Friday was another battle against the weather but I managed to get the nets open after the rain came through by 9 am. Unfortunately, I had to shut down by 11 as the winds picked up. But there were some great birds banded in that short window. Some of the migrants included Swainson's thrush, veery, Lincoln's sparrow, and a stunning male magnolia warbler! It was great to see some of our resident birds up close too, including my first brown thrasher of the year. 

Saturday was an amazing day at Niagara Boat Launch! Naturally, after my last post which hinted that Niagara doesn't get as many migrants as Fry's, the blogging and banding gods conspired to prove me wrong! It was a foggy, cold day but a great day to see migrants. American redstart was abundant in the park that day and we ended up with a beautiful male and 2 females before the end of the day. The male was a recapture and while redstarts do breed on Presque Isle, it's very possible that this bird could have been banded elsewhere! I still need to look up origins for all our recaps this year thus far. Whenever I see a redstart, I always hope that it has color-bands on it. I once worked for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Jamaica with wintering american redstarts. These birds were all uniquely color marked and one of the greatest surprises to me was the site fidelity displayed by some individuals. Many of us here in PA hope to see the same pair of bluebirds, martins, or warblers return to nest each spring in the same location of our yard or park. However, it had never occurred to me that these birds each winter are flying thousands of miles to return to the very same yard in a tropical location! Some of the individual redstarts on the project had been returning to the same exact tree for several years to spend the winter! The exact breeding location of the redstarts banded in Jamaica has never been known as none of them have been resighted in the USA, but they are around here somewhere, so keep your eyes open for color bands!

Other warblers of the day included some ovenbirds, black-throated blue warbler, black-and-white warblers, common yellowthroat, magnolia warbler, yellow-rumped warblers, and yellow warblers. An eight warbler species day! Interestingly, one of the station visitors captured a photo of 2 cerulean warblers in the trees near the banding station. Of course, these tree top travelers, which are very rare in the park, would have been a shocking catch in our mist-nets which only stand 8 feet tall. Other species for the day included veery, eastern towhee, gray catbird, brown-headed cowbird, house wren, a troop of white-crowned sparrows, and my personal favorite bird of the day: a male white-breasted nuthatch.

In addition to great birds, there was a constant and sizable group of visitors to the banding station! I'm so glad to see so many people interested in the science we are doing and hope you all keep coming. Clearly, I haven't been able to take many photos so if you stopped by and got a few photos, send them to me at pispbirdbanding  (at symbol) gmail. com and I might be able to use them in the blog- include your full name if you would like photo credit. 

Sunday's banding at Fry's was cancelled due to high winds.

Photo: ASY male American redstart from Niagara Launch on May 11 (asy = after second year)

May 8, 2013

Banding Highlights from May 5th and 7th

I'm very excited to be keep you all up to date on our exciting banding season this year. Since Sarah's post, we have had 2 more days of successful bird banding. Matt Phillips ran the banding station at Fry's on Sunday the 5th. I can tell you that I am a little jealous in his epic morning of netting ten Nashville warblers! TEN!! Other highlights on Sunday included a swamp sparrow, blue-winged warbler, and gray-cheeked thrush! There was a great turnout of visitors and I am sorry that I couldn't have been one of them.

On Tuesday, May 7th, I banded at Niagara Launch. While Fry's sometimes offers a more interesting mix of migrant species, Niagara consistently provides us with pure "banding gold:" RECAPTURES. Recapture, capturing an already banded bird from a previous day, year, or location, is often the ultimate goal of a banding project. While the information we gain from banding new individuals is valuable and can help us determine trends in species abundance, and timing of migration, molt, and breeding activities; recaptures provides scientists us with very valuable data regarding survival, migration routes, and a variety of other life history and population information. All of our banding data is submitted to the nation wide database administered by the Bird Banding Laboratory at Patuxent: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/index.cfm which gives scientists around the world access to the information we collect right here at Presque Isle State Park. At Niagara, we literally did strike gold with 4 beautiful golden-colored yellow warblers which had been banded in previous years and a male northern cardinal. I still need to check our records, so stay tuned to find out when and where these birds were first banded. Other species included eastern towhee, gray catbird, American robin, and a very bitey brown-headed cowbird.

 See you at Fry's on Friday! (weather permitting).
Photo: A recaptured ASY (after-second-year) female yellow warbler.