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, December 2015

This summary was compiled by Palomarin banding interns Jason Gregg and Katie Temple with help from Mark Dettling, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

December was an exciting month for our winter interns. Though it was a rainy month for Palo, we were averaging about 14 birds caught per banding day. Not only did we run our Palo nets, but we also operated potter traps (a type of ground trap) around the field station in an attempt to catch Fox Sparrows with geolocators on them that were attached last winter. A little more information on the geolocator project can be found in a previous blog post and this news piece. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any of them, but we did catch other exciting species, such as Western Scrub-Jays and Golden-crowned Sparrows. Though we didn’t recapture any Fox Sparrows with geolocators here at Palo, we were able to retrieve two of them at one of our other banding locations, Pine Gulch Marin County Open Space Preserve.

Along with the higher than average capture rates and rainy weather, we were lucky enough to see a Spotted Sandpiper at the Palomarin Field Station. It was sighted right outside of our kitchen perched on top of our picnic table after a night and day of heavy rain. It hung around the immediate area for about a day and a half. The Spotted Sandpiper is a highly unusual bird to have around the offices and living quarters, since it prefers the shores of lakes and rivers. With the amount of rain we had, we also were fortunate enough to have California and Rough-skinned Newts everywhere!

Our notable captures for the month included a Black Phoebe, an adult male Varied Thrush, a Red-breasted Sapsucker, 2 Western-Scrub Jays, some Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a few Anna’s Hummingbirds.


Black Phoebe, Muddy Hollow Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo by Kate Maley

First winter male Sharp-shinned Hawk inside the Palomarin Field Station banding lab. Photo by Katie Temple

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 17 days (1670.75 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in December, we captured 111 new birds and recaptured 131 previously banded birds. A total of 242 birds of 21 species were caught this month. Approximately 14 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 115 new birds and recaptured 122 previously banded birds. A total of 237 birds of 23 species were caught over 11 banding days this month (550.97 net hours), an average of approximately 22 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on December 19th at Palomarin with 30 birds and December 28th at Pine Gulch with 63 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (134), Townsend’s Warbler (21), Hermit Thrush (17), Golden-crowned Kinglet (16), and Wrentit (8).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (89), Song Sparrow (32), Fox Sparrow (22), Wrentit (18), and Hermit Thrush (15).

Differences in feather patterns on an adult male (left) and a first winter female (right) Townsend’s Warbler. Photo by Tyler Winter

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.