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, October 2014

11.20.14
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This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Bobby Wilcox and Kaitlin Murphy with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

October was celebratory, with beautiful weather and exciting events here at the Palomarin Field Station. October is known for its warm, sunny days here in Marin, and this one lived up to its reputation – but Autumn scents still waft in the crisp, chilly mornings and clear, starry nights. Kicking off the month, we welcomed back our wintering Golden-crowned Sparrows with a party in their honor, full of golden food and drink, a potpourri of innovative golden crowns, games such as pin-the-band-on-the-sparrow and bets placed on the first sparrow captured in Palomarin nets, and of course, waxing poetic about our feathered friends! A few days later the Palomarin team “the Lookers” traipsed all over Bolinas chasing species for the Rich Stallcup Bird-A-Thon fundraiser, with 126 species being the final count for our group.  Our feat was even more noteworthy because we chose to do a ‘green’ Bird-A-Thon.  Clad in devilishly handsome garb and sensible footwear, we hiked a total of 14 miles over the course of the day in search of our quarry.  Halloween went off in true bird-nerd style with a presentation on climate change by Point Blue’s own Nat Seavy and the interns celebrated passing their North American Banding Council Banding Certification exams (NABC is a rigorous evaluation of one’s banding skills, and at Palo, each bander is evaluated at the end of their internship).

Point Blue Staffer, Dennis Jongsomjit, tries his best to "Pin The Band" on the Golden-crowned Sparrow! Photo by Lishka Arata.

Point Blue Staffer, Dennis Jongsomjit, tries his best to “Pin The Band” on the Golden-crowned Sparrow at our annual party welcoming back this wintering species! Photo by Lishka Arata.

One of the two Black-throated Gray Warblers captured this month at our site at Pine Gulch Creek in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

One of the two Black-throated Gray Warblers captured this month at our site at Pine Gulch Creek in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

So how about the birds? Migration continued through most of the month, with raptors cruising over in numbers, many young Sharp-shinned Hawks sighted hunting in the study area, and quite a few ending up in our nets. Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow and Ruby-crowned Kinglet numbers sky rocketed this month, the type-writer call of the latter fills the canopy most mornings. Several large flocks of geese were observed making their way down the coast, including large flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese. First-of-the-season captures included Red-breasted Sapsuckers and Varied Thrushes. A few highlights include two Black-throated Gray Warblers at Pine Gulch and a pair of Chipping Sparrows still in juvenal plumage at the field station.

Palomarin Staff Biologists’ favorite lunch interruption: when banding interns burst in asking “What is this bird??” These turned out to be young Chipping Sparrows in juvenal plumage – a not-so-common sighting at the field station! Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Palomarin Staff Biologists’ favorite lunch interruption: when banding interns burst in asking “What is this bird??” These turned out to be young Chipping Sparrows in juvenal plumage – a not-so-common sighting at the field station! Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Other interesting sightings: a young Palm Warbler lulled everyone out of the office to gaze upon its golden undertail coverts; California and Rough-skinned Newts have begun crawling out of the streams and into the forests; a Pacific Wren and Bewick’s Wren were discovered to be roosting in the abandoned Barn Swallow nests above the interns’ bunkroom doors; and several Rubber Boas have been excavated from the mulch pile.

This Palm Warbler was enjoyed by all of the staff and interns at Palo for a few days month, seen pumping its tail outside of the field station. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

This Palm Warbler was enjoyed by all of the staff and interns at Palo for a few days month, seen pumping its tail outside of the field station. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Around Palo, newts (Taricha sp.) emerge from their watery summer homes. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Around Palo, newts (Taricha sp.) emerge from their watery summer homes. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Bewick’s (left) and Pacific (right) Wrens find respite from chilly October nights in abandoned Barn Swallow nests above the intern dormitories. Photos by Bobby Wilcox.

Bewick’s (left) and Pacific (right) Wrens find respite from chilly October nights in abandoned Barn Swallow nests above the intern dormitories. Photos by Bobby Wilcox.

Rubber Boa cuddles up to handler Bobby Wilcox after being accidentally excavated from the mulch pile. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Rubber Boa cuddles up to handler Bobby Wilcox after being accidentally excavated from the mulch pile. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 27 days (2928.25 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in October, we captured 162 new birds and recaptured 63 previously banded birds. A total of 225 birds of 33 species were caught this month. An average of 8 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 247 new birds and recaptured 150 previously banded birds. A total of 397 birds of 37 species were caught over 22 banding days this month (1224 net hours), an average of approximately 18 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on October 30 at Palomarin with 20 birds, and October 7th at Redwood Creek and October 8th at Pine Gulch with 36 birds each day.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (54), Hermit Thrush (27), Wrentit (24), Fox Sparrow (23), and Townsend’s Warbler (21).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Fox Sparrow (72), Song Sparrow (57), Hermit Thrush (45), Wrentit (44), and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (38).

A male Ruby-crowned Kinglet showcases his namesake at Muddy Hollow, one of our banding stations in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

A male Ruby-crowned Kinglet showcases his namesake at Muddy Hollow, one of our banding stations in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo by Bobby Wilcox.

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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