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, August 2015

This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns David Sherer and Anna Kennedy with help from Renée Cormier, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

August is the beginning of the fall banding season at Palomarin, bringing a new group of interns (and this year, a couple who stuck around from summer). Fall is an important season for migratory birds: the breeding season has come to a close and many species are moving to their wintering grounds. Among these are a few vagrants (or birds that are outside of their normal range), some of which find themselves in West Marin County. It’s an exciting time to be banding and occasionally figuring out how to identify birds rarely seen in this region.

This month, we captured two such vagrants. The first was an American Redstart, a warbler with a flashy tail, caught at our site along Redwood Creek in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (National Park Service land) near Muir Beach. The second bird was a Northern Waterthrush, caught at Palomarin.

American Redstart captured at Redwood Creek on August 19th. Photo by David Sherer.

Since 1970, this was only the 5th Northern Waterthrush captured (and only the 8th across all of our West Marin banding sites). The last individual at Palomarin was caught in 2009 and the other three were caught in 1985, 1972 and 1971.

A hatch-year Northern Waterthrush captured at Palomarin on August 28th. Photo by Mark Dettling.

Fall migration also presents banders with a few first-of-the-year captures (usually migratory species that we didn’t catch during spring migration). In August, we captured a Cassin’s Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, and Hermit Warbler. Additionally, we captured two Cooper’s Hawks. In general, our most commonly captured raptors are Sharp-shinned Hawks, so seeing two of the larger Cooper’s Hawks was especially exciting!

A hatch-year male Hermit Warbler. Photo by Hannah Conley.

August was also notable for the capture of several Western Scrub-Jays, a year-round resident that is nevertheless infrequently captured.

A Western Scrub-Jay captured at the Palomarin Field Station. Photo by Hannah Conley.

As the fall season continues, we are looking forward to many more exciting and unusual captures!

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 27 days (3106.33 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in August, we captured 108 new birds and recaptured 45 previously banded birds. A total of 153 birds of 30 species were caught this month. Approximately 6 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 368 new birds and recaptured 151 previously banded birds. A total of 519 birds of 37 species were caught over 20 banding days this month (1091.00 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 August 28th at Palomarin with 11 birds and August 31st at Muddy Hollow, in the Point Reyes National Seashore, with 54 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Pacific-slope Flycatcher (34), Wrentit (17), Brown Creeper (11), Swainson’s Thrush (10), and Bewick’s Wren (10).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (169), Swainson’s Thrush (89), Wilson’s Warbler (61), Pacific-slope Flycatcher (48), and Wrentit (31).

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.