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, May 2016


This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Garrett Duncan and Anna Kennedy with help from Mark Dettling, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

Exciting captures this month at Palomarin included a Lincoln’s Sparrow caught on May 1st and the first Black-headed Grosbeak of the year on May 4th. We also caught a Yellow-breasted Chat on May 3rd, which was only the 11th individual of this species ever captured at Palomarin, the last being in 2008.

Lincoln’s Sparrow Photo by Garrett Duncan

Lincoln’s Sparrow Photo by Garrett Duncan

Black-headed Grosbeak Photo by Garrett Duncan

Male Black-headed Grosbeak Photo by Garrett Duncan

Male Yellow-breasted Chat Photo by Kayla Putty

Male Yellow-breasted Chat Photo by Kayla Putty

During the month of May, we began catching more hatch year birds, or birds born this calendar year. Young birds of some species may have left the nest up to a month ago, but are now moving around enough to get caught in our mist nets. At Palomarin we caught the first hatch year Wrentit on May 26th. Wrentits are a study species at Palomarin and the nest searching interns find and monitor the nests and band the nestlings, putting a unique color band combination on each individual, in addition to the usual aluminum band. The color bands allow an individual to be identified without being caught, enabling us to create maps of their territories and see interactions between different pairs of birds.

At our five other banding locations in West Marin, we began catching many young of many species, including Song Sparrows, Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

This spring we excitedly await the return of Swainson’s Thrushes that were equipped with small geolocator tags last summer. The data downloaded from these tags will enable us to more precisely determine where individuals of this species spend their winter. However, we have to recapture the tagged individuals to remove the tags and get this data! This year we are using new tags that collect a few GPS points on dates that we choose, giving us even greater accuracy in determining wintering locations. We caught our first two geolocator-tagged Swainson’s Thrushes on May 9th at our Redwood Creek banding site near Muir Beach, and a few others across our banding sites throughout the month.

Swainson's Thrush with a GPS geolocator tag. Point Blue photo.

Swainson’s Thrush with a GPS geolocator tag. Point Blue photo.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 29 days (2998 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in May, we captured 88 new birds and recaptured 91 previously banded birds. A total of 179 birds of 28 species were caught this month. Approximately 6.7 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 187 new birds and recaptured 210 previously banded birds. A total of 397 birds of 28 species were caught over 15 banding days this month (777.3 net hours), an average of approximately 26 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on May 23 at Palomarin with 12 birds and May 9th at Redwood Creek with 59 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Swainson’s Thrush (33), Wilson’s Warbler (23), Wrentit (16), Allen’s Hummingbird (15), and Purple Finch (12).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Swainson’s Thrush (116), Wilson’s Warbler (93), Song Sparrow (54), Allen’s Hummingbird (21), and Chestnut-backed Chickadee (20).

Male Purple Finch Photo by Kayla Putty

Male Purple Finch Photo by Kayla Putty

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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