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, March 2014

04.14.14
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This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Brian Cole and Kim Geissler with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

March is perennially an exciting time at the Palomarin Field Station, as it is the time of year when migrants begin arriving from their southern wintering grounds. March also brought the arrival of the summer interns, who arrived from around the nation to enter the intensive Palomarin bird monitoring training program. Four of the interns will be banders, while 3 additional interns will spend their days searching for nests in the area around the field station. Please stop by and visit us!

A brilliant male Townsend’s Warbler captured at the Palomarin Field Station. Photo by Janelle Chojnacki.

A brilliant male Townsend’s Warbler captured at the Palomarin Field Station. Photo by Janelle Chojnacki.

The migrants began showing up from their long travels, resting and feeding in the forest around the station. We frequently encountered noisy flocks of Townsend’s Warblers (who will continue north, and many of which overwinter at the station) feeding in the coast live oaks. The distinctive song of the Wilson’s Warbler (a summer breeder here in the Point Reyes National Seashore) signaled their arrival, with the first individual showing up in our nets on March 20th.

A notable  capture was the Savannah Sparrow caught at Pine Gulch Creek on March 21, providing an awesome, up close encounter with a bird we infrequently catch. As always, a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the hand (watch out for those sharp talons) elicited a collective gasp of wonder from the new interns, none of whom had ever seen a hawk so close.

A wing length measurement is taken on a Savannah Sparrow captured at Pine Gulch Creek, one of our mist netting stations on Marin County Open Space District Land. Photo by Janelle Chojnacki.

A wing length measurement is taken on a Savannah Sparrow captured at Pine Gulch Creek, one of our mist netting stations on Marin County Open Space District Land. Photo by Janelle Chojnacki.

The nest searching interns (aka “gridders”) found 9 Wrentit nests in March, many of which are now active and contain eggs! Wrentits, a year round resident to the coastal scrub of Palomarin, are one of our main study species at Palo. Nests and nesting behavior have also been observed for Bushtits, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Song Sparrows, and Bewick’s Wrens.

The Douglas iris was (and still is) in full bloom and the Douglas fir began producing new, bright green needles. With the initiation of plant phenology monitoring at all of our banding sites in Marin County, the interns are paying close attention to the timing of various phases of plants in our study area. March also brought a welcome rain, precipitating a flourish of California poppies and sending newts on the move. Stay tuned for the next update!

Larger birds in the nets are always exciting, including this Mourning Dove captured at Palomarin on March 27, 2014. Note the blue eye ring and pink feet! Photo by Asya Rahlin

Larger birds in the nets are always exciting, including this Mourning Dove captured at Palomarin on March 27, 2014. Note the blue eye ring and pink feet! Photo by Asya Rahlin

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 15 days (1513.6 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in March, we captured 29 new birds and recaptured 37 previously banded birds. A total of 66 birds of 17 species were caught this month. Approximately 5 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites (the “off-sites”), we captured 78 new birds and recaptured 66 previously banded birds. A total of 144 birds of 28 species were caught over 10 banding days this month (484.79 net hours), an average of approximately 14 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on March 27 at Palomarin with 13 birds and March 4 at Pine Gulch with 30 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Oregon Junco (10), Song Sparrow (8), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (8), Fox Sparrow (8), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (8) and Spotted Towhee (6).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Fox Sparrow (24), Song Sparrow (16), Oregon Junco (16), Golden-crowned Sparrow (15), and Chestnut-backed Chickadee (10).

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.

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