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.

Point Blue Conservation Science: Monthly Banding Summary, June and July 2017

08.31.17
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This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Isabel Lawrence and Ian Souza-Cole with help from Mark Dettling, Banding Supervisor.

About Point Blue: Our mission is to conserve birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach.

Our Vision: Because of the collaborative climate-smart conservation work we do today, healthy ecosystems will continue to sustain thriving wildlife and human communities well into the future.

Visit Point Blue’s website to learn more.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

June and July were full of new things for the banders! We were occupied by high capture days, interpreting molting birds, new species, banding certification testing, and the cuteness of all the hatch-year birds. Meanwhile, the gridders (nest searching interns) were busy nest searching, monitoring, and banding nestlings.

Highlight captures at Palomarin included a MacGillivray’s Warbler on June 12th, a Hooded Warbler on June 15th, an Olive-sided Flycatcher on July 13th, and a Red-shafted Flicker on July 27th. Hooded Warblers are primarily found in eastern parts of the country, but they occasionally get caught in our nets here. Since 1966, there are only 9 other records of Hooded Warbler captures in our database, usually caught at one of our other banding locations in Marin (referred to by us as “offsites”). This year’s Hooded Warbler was an adult female.

After hatch-year female Hooded Warbler at Palomarin. Photo by Ian Souza-Cole.

After hatch-year female Hooded Warbler at Palomarin. Photo by Ian Souza-Cole.

Second-year Olive-sided Flycatcher at Palomarin. Photo by Meredith Heather.

Second-year Olive-sided Flycatcher at Palomarin. Photo by Meredith Heather.

Our offsite banding locations have been just as exciting this summer. At this point, we’ve banded what feels like every hatch-year Song Sparrow and Wilson’s Warbler in West Marin. Highlight captures include a Brown-headed Cowbird on June 29th at Muddy Hollow (Point Reyes National Seashore) and a Marsh Wren on July 26th at Pine Gulch (Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve). Both birds can be heard at the sites, but are not usually caught in our mist nets. The Brown-headed Cowbird was a female, which lacked a brood patch (featherless area on belly for incubation) since they are a brood parasite. This means that they lay their eggs in another bird species’ nest, and therefore do not incubate the eggs.

Hatch-year Wilson’s Warbler in juvenile plumage at Muddy Hollow. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

Hatch-year Wilson’s Warbler in juvenile plumage at Muddy Hollow. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

After hatch-year female Brown-headed Cowbird at Muddy Hollow. Photo by Ian Souza-Cole.

After hatch-year female Brown-headed Cowbird at Muddy Hollow. Photo by Ian Souza-Cole.

Gridders were busy throughout the summer months tracking down Wrentit nests, as well as Spotted Towhees and Wilson’s Warblers. Upon the completion of the internship on July 31st, they even had one Wrentit nest still active. This nest proved to be the latest recorded ever at Palomarin, with nestlings well into August.

The spring/summer banders are responsible for monitoring four nest boxes and any other bird nests on the Palomarin buildings. As a part of our monitoring, we band the nestling birds once they reach a certain age and their legs are fully grown. A double-brooding Western Bluebird pair occupied one nest box this year, while the other three went unused. The pair completed a second successful clutch in July. A pair of Barn Swallows also double-brooded in a nest on the side of our bunkhouse. The first round of Barn Swallow nestling were banded on June 27th, when the little guys were just 12 days old.

Banded nestling Barn Swallow from local nest at Palomarin. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

Banded nestling Barn Swallow from local nest at Palomarin. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

Palomarin banders celebrated the end of the summer season and completion of banding certification testing with a birding trip in Point Reyes National Seashore. We were excited to see a flock of Tricolored Blackbirds, a Red-throated Loon, a Barn Owl, Black Oystercatchers, and many other birds!

Spring/Summer banders birding at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. From left to right: Ian, Mark, Emily, Meredith, and Isabel. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

Spring/Summer banders birding at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. From left to right: Ian, Mark, Emily, Meredith, and Isabel. Photo by Isabel Lawrence.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 52 days (5,772 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in June and July, we captured 269 new birds and recaptured 171 previously banded birds. A total of 440 birds of 29 species were caught. Approximately 9 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 487 new birds and recaptured 300 previously banded birds. A total of 787 birds of 32 species were caught over 24 banding days in June and July (1,276.67 net hours), an average of approximately 33 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on July 5th at Palomarin with 23 birds and June 6th at Pine Gulch with 66 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Wrentit (69), Wilson’s Warbler (65), Swainson’s Thrush (54), Oregon Junco (51), and Bewick’s Wren (22).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Wilson’s Warbler (176), Song Sparrow (168), Swainson’s Thrush (164), Wrentit (59), and Allen’s Hummingbird (38).

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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