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 2016

11.30.16
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This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Lila Fried, María Chávez, and Preston Duncan with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

October is traditionally a roller coaster of a month at Palomarin, and this year was no exception. Palo staff and interns rocked Point Blue’s annual Bird-A-Thon (you can still donate!) on October 3, racking up 141 species (including a vagrant Red-throated Pipit!) despite being hit hard all day by the first rain of the season. The interns rushed to meet deadlines for their required capstone projects, and were also hard at work studying for their North American Banding Council (NABC) exams as part of obtaining their bander’s certification. This year’s Western Bird Banding Association meeting was held in Point Reyes Station, which gave the Palo staff and interns an exciting opportunity to join other bird banders from around the country (and world!) in some really interesting presentations and discussions. Palo’s annual Golden-crowned Sparrow party was also held this month to welcome the arrival of Golden-crowned Sparrows from their northerly breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska. Friends from around the area gathered at the field station to partake in our festivities and their homemade golden crowns did not disappoint! The party included golden food, crafts, and a live band, LoWatters! On top of welcoming our beloved Golden-crowned Sparrows back, there were additional reasons to celebrate since it was the 50th anniversary of the Palomarin Field Station and our own Diana Humple’s birthday. What a day for celebrations!

Point Blue staff and interns birding hard at Abbott's Lagoon during a very rainy Bird-A-Thon in October, 2016. Photo by Diana Humple.

Point Blue staff and interns birding hard at Abbott’s Lagoon during a very rainy Bird-A-Thon in October, 2016. Photo by Diana Humple.

An especially exciting capture for the month was an immature Magnolia Warbler, which was caught at our Muddy Hollow site in the Point Reyes National Seashore on October 17th, and we caught another one on October 31 at our Redwood Creek site in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area! This colorful bird breeds in Canada, the Northeastern U.S. and northern Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, and winters from southern Mexico to Panama in addition to the West Indies. It is uncommon west of the Mississippi and rare west of the Rockies, and these particular individuals were only the fourth and fifth records for Palomarin captures! Immature birds can be distinguished from similar looking species by their light gray neckband and unique tail pattern with a black tip and white inner band.

First-year Magnolia Warbler captured at Muddy Hollow by Palomarin Field Station in October, 2016. Photos by Lila Fried.

First-year Magnolia Warbler captured at Muddy Hollow in Point Reyes National Seashore by the Palomarin Field Station interns in October, 2016. Photos by Lila Fried.

The interns also got a surprise during the field portion of their NABC exam when a Swamp Sparrow turned up in the nets! This species is common east of the Rockies and occurs in low numbers along the Pacific Coast, and is largely absent from much of the interior west. We usually catch one or two each winter, and it is important that each bird is carefully examined by banders since they have a very similar head pattern and coloration to our Song Sparrow. Swamp Sparrows, however, have an unstreaked breast, also helping to distinguish it from Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Swamp Sparrow captured at our Pine Gulch banding station in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve by Palomarin Field Station in October, 2016. Photo by Preston Duncan.

Swamp Sparrow captured at our Pine Gulch banding station in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve in October, 2016. Photo by Preston Duncan.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 25 banding days (2571.81 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in October, we captured 130 new birds and recaptured 44 previously banded birds. A total of 174 birds of 26 species were caught. Approximately 7 birds were caught per banding day.

At our 5 other West Marin banding sites (“off-sites”), we captured 141 new birds and recaptured 100 previously banded birds. A total of 241 birds of 29 species were caught over 19 banding days in October (1013.73 net hours), an average of approximately 13 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on October 22 at Palomarin with 16 birds and the same date at Pine Gulch with 21 birds.

At Palomarin the highest capture numbers were for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (33), Golden-crowned Sparrow (24), Hermit Thrush (22), Wrentit (19), and Fox Sparrow (13).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Hermit Thrush (49), Song Sparrow (36), Fox Sparrow (32), Wrentit (27), and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (17).

Sometimes our nets catch other animals besides birds! California Sister (Adelpha californica) at the Palomarin Field Station in October, 2016. Photo by Lila Fried.

Sometimes our nets catch other animals besides birds! California Sister (Adelpha californica) at the Palomarin Field Station in October, 2016. Photo by Lila Fried.

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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