Point Blue's Palomarin Blog

Taking the Long View: An inside look at the goings-on at the longest running avian ecology field station west of the Mississippi.

Monthly Banding Summary, August 2016

11.17.16
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This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Maria Chavez and Preston Duncan with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

A new group of interns arrived at Palomarin for the fall season – more bright-eyed future-biologists in the making at Point Blue, eager to learn the wonderful art of banding birds! We bid farewell to the hard-working spring and summer crew, including the banders as well as nest-searchers. The fall crew was very grateful for the wisdom that they were all able to pass on during training. Preston, Maria, Kate, and Lila started their season off strong (along with the summer group finishing off strong) with some fun captures, starting with a day at their banding station at Pine Gulch, in Marin County Open Space District’s Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve, where they captured a few uncommonly-captured birds including a Black Phoebe and Cassin’s Vireo on August 5th. A few days later, they caught three young Lazuli Buntings within a few days (August 11, 12, and 16)!

First-year Lazuli Bunting of unknown sex, August 12. Photo by Maria Chavez

First-year Lazuli Bunting of unknown sex, August 12. Photo by Maria Chavez

 

The Yellow Warblers began their march through Marin in early August as well, with the first individual arriving at Palo on the 12th. Preston and Maria were introduced to their first Black-headed Grosbeak on August 13th at our banding station located along the shores of Lagunitas Creek in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which was quite exciting for the two of them. Grosbeaks have very strong bills that allow them to break through tough seeds, which are a large part of their diet – this particular first-year grosbeak enjoyed demonstrating its great mandible strength on both Maria and Renée’s fingers. The first Townsend’s Warbler of the season also arrived from its breeding grounds in the Northwest to Palomarin on August 23rd, which seemed a little bit early to the crew, but upon doing some research into our long-term dataset, found that this young male was right on time! On the final day of August, the crew was excited to see a MacGillivray’s Warbler in their nets at their banding station in Redwood Creek, also on Golden Gate National Recreation Area land! August turned out to be a great month to be introduced to banding.

First-year Yellow Warbler of unknown sex, August 12. Photo by Maria Chavez.

First-year Yellow Warbler of unknown sex, August 12. Photo by Maria Chavez.

With the arrival of August came many days of relentless fog. Sometimes, this foggy weather can affect banding conditions at Palo. The banders had to be extra vigilant when monitoring the status of their nets, ensuring the safety of captured birds. A main function of birds’ feathers is insulation for thermoregulation, and if wet, they can lose their ability to keep themselves warm! After weathering the foggy days, the interns spent their off-time rooting for team USA at the summer Olympics in Rio. Some favorite events included the thrilling games of table-tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball. Aside from cheering on their favorite athletes, the crew spent some time exploring the areas around Palo, including the nearby trails and areas around the greater Point Reyes National Seashore.

First-year Black-headed Grosbeak of unknown sex. August 13. Photo by Maria Chavez.

First-year Black-headed Grosbeak of unknown sex. August 13. Photo by Maria Chavez.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 30 days (3355.73 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in August, we captured 138 new birds and recaptured 58 previously banded birds. A total of 196 birds of 25 species were caught. Approximately 7 birds were caught per banding day.

At our 5 other West Marin banding sites (the “off-sites”), we captured 268 new birds and recaptured 140 previously banded birds. A total of 408 birds of 26 species were caught over 19 banding days in August (1063.63 net hours), an average of approximately 21 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on August 19th at Palomarin with 15 birds and August 13th at Lagunitas Creek with 37 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Wrentit (49), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (39), Oregon Junco (13), “Western” Flycatcher (12; these are most likely Pacific-slope Flycatchers, but could not reliably be separated from Cordilleran Flycatchers – the two used to be considered one species, the Western Flycatcher), and Song Sparrow (12).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (101), Wilson’s Warbler (81), Swainson’s Thrush (76), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (27), and Wrentit (21).

First-year MacGillivray’s Warbler of unknown sex, August 31. Photo by Preston Duncan.

First-year MacGillivray’s Warbler of unknown sex, August 31. Photo by Preston Duncan.

About these Summaries:

In an effort to share our science with the public, Point Blue interns and staff at our Palomarin Field Station (Palomarin or “Palo”) in Point Reyes National Seashore near Bolinas, CA produce these monthly bird-banding summaries. Our science interns create these summaries as part of their science outreach training.

Our Palomarin Field Station is open to the public.  Consider visiting us!  Learn how by visiting our mist-netting demonstrations web page.

First-year male Townsend’s Warbler, August 23. Photo by Kayla Putty.

First-year male Townsend’s Warbler, August 23. Photo by Kayla Putty.

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