Monthly Banding Summary, September 2014
By Palomarin Field Station
This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Wyatt Hersey and Stephanie Levins with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.
Exciting Captures and Observations:
With the end of the breeding season and the start of fall migration, September is a time of transition and always proves to be a great time of year for both birding and banding. As the songs of the summer breeders have faded away, sightings and sounds of the winter residents begin to be heard in the forests and fields around our study areas. This is a time of year at Palo where one can observe a mix of migrants including both songbirds and hawks, year-round residents, and winter residents – and we also hope for the irregular vagrant. Vagrants are birds that fly off-course during migration and end up far from their normal range. Every fall we look at all captures carefully and stay on our toes to make sure we don’t overlook any vagrant that may only be subtly different from our regularly-captured species – while some of these rare captures are obviously different.
September is also a busy month for raptor migration and we kept our eyes to the skies scanning for migrating Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, and Broad-winged hawks, and the occasional Golden Eagle. This month, we started to see and capture Accipiters (Sharp-shinned and the occasional Cooper’s hawk), as they move south and hunt beneath the canopy along the way. It has been found that young hawks are often in disproportionately high numbers along the coast compared to inland sites. Our banding data and observations corroborate this, as most of our sightings are of juveniles and the majority of our captures of Sharp-shinned Hawks are of young males.
This September we had a handful of exciting captures, including the tenth Acorn Woodpecker ever to be captured here at the Palomarin Field Station (in almost 50 years of continuous banding!!), one of each Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk, a Northern Waterthrush and an American Redstart (both vagrants), a Red-shafted Flicker, as well as many others.
By the end of the month we saw winter residents such as Fox Sparrows and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets show up in great numbers, while the number of Yellow and Wilson’s warblers tapered. The occasional rains caused the termites to hatch and disperse around the field station, allowed us to observe a Pacific Giant Salamander moving about, and gave drink to the thirsty plants. We breathed deep and smelled the sweet fragrance of California Sagebrush as we moved into the darker months to come.
Let’s Do the Numbers:
In 30 days (2848.0 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in September, we captured 112 new birds and recaptured 46 previously banded birds. A total of 158 birds of 33 species were caught this month. Approximately 6 birds were caught per banding day. At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 242 new birds and recaptured 99 previously banded birds. A total of 341 birds of 39 species were caught over 26 banding days this month (1271.75 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 September 10 at Palomarin with 15 birds and September 29 at Pine Gulch with 30 birds. At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Pacific-slope Flycatcher (22), Fox Sparrow (18), Townsend’s Warbler (12) and Swainson’s Thrush (11). Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (78), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (32), Fox Sparrow (26), Swainson’s Thrush (24), and Chestnut-backed Chickadee (23).
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.