Taking the Long View: An inside look at the goings-on at the longest running avian ecology field station west of the Mississippi.

Palomarin Monthly Banding Summary: November 2020

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Sophie Noda, Caroline Provost, and Brandon Dunnahoo with help from Hilary Allen, Banding Supervisor.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

November brought the Palo banders some very exciting, high-volume days of banding, and some exceptionally fun birds.  One of our most exciting captures of the month was a hatch-year (a young bird hatched in this calendar year) Red-shouldered Hawk in late November. It is uncommon for us to capture this species, or any birds of that size, because our mist nets are designed for small songbirds. Over the course of 55 years of bird banding at Palomarin, we have now caught a total of twelve Red-shouldered Hawks. Our records show an additional seven Red-shouldered Hawk captures at Pine Gulch (a site in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve where we have been mist netting for 27 years).

A stunning hatch-year Red-shouldered Hawk, held by Sophie Noda. Photo by Brandon Dunnahoo.

In November, we stopped banding at Redwood Creek (as we don’t band there in winter), and returned to Pine Gulch. November 3rd marked the first time we have banded at Pine Gulch since pausing banding at the site on March 17th due to COVID-19.

As anticipated, we have had some high-volume days and many exciting captures there. One memorable moment was when we caught a male Sharp-shinned Hawk, followed by a male Cooper’s Hawk. The Cooper’s Hawk was quite large in body size and talon size compared to the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Another day, we caught an intergrade Northern Flicker, a hybrid between a Red-shafted Flicker and a Yellow-shafted Flicker subspecies. Intergrade Flickers are not uncommon, but this was our first Intergrade flicker capture of the year. Pine Gulch graced us with other first-of-season captures, including a Marsh Wren and a House Finch, and some other fun captures such as several Pine Siskins,

We also caught three species of sparrows in the Zonotrichia genus in November. Along with several Golden-crowned Sparrows, we also caught two less common Zonotrichia sparrows – a Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow (a migratory subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow) and a White-throated Sparrow (a species more commonly found much further east).

A hatch-year male Sharp-shinned Hawk. Photo by Sophie Noda


Our second Cooper’s Hawk capture of the year, and first after-hatch-year (i.e., hatched in the previous calendar year or earlier) male of the year. Photo by Caroline Provost.


A unique capture for Marin County, a Flicker Intergrade. These stunning woodpeckers are a hybrid between the Red-shafted Flicker subspecies from the west and the Yellow-shafted Flicker subspecies from the east. Photo by Mark Dettling.


Pine Siskin wings. Part of a Pine Siskin flock was flying just low enough to be caught in our net. We were able to compare plumage of these individuals in hand. Photo by Caroline Provost.


Purple Finches side by side. An after-hatch-year male on the right, unknown age/sex on the left. Photo by Caroline Provost.


A White-throated Sparrow. Photo by Sophie Noda


A Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow. Photo by Sophie Noda.


Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 25 days (2615.67 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in November, we captured 190 new birds and recaptured 138 previously banded birds. A total of 328 birds of 25 species were caught. Approximately 13 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 247 new birds and recaptured 122 previously banded birds. A total of 369 birds of 37 species were caught over 11 banding days in November (561.85 net hours), an average of approximately 34 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on November 19th at Palomarin with 41 birds, and November 10th at Pine Gulch (Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve) with 62 birds.

At Palomarin, the following species were caught in the highest numbers: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (128), Wrentit (38), Townsend’s Warbler (25), Golden-crowned Kinglet (23), and Hermit Thrush (17).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (91), Song Sparrow (44), Myrtle Warbler (32), Hermit Thrush (30), and Fox Sparrow (23).

About these Summaries:

Point Blue interns and staff at our Palomarin Field Station share these blog posts in an effort to further engage the public in our science. We are grateful to our partners at the Point Reyes National Seashore and to our surrounding Bolinas and West Marin County community for their support of our work.

Our Palomarin Field Station is currently closed to the public during COVID-19.  Consider visiting us in the future, and in the meantime you can tune in to one of our Facebook Live events to see what we are up to!  Learn more on our upcoming events web page.