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, October 2015

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

Exciting Captures and Observations:

October banding was very exciting! The nights started to get cooler, and the days crisper as many migrants continued on their journey south. Migration slowed down as the month progressed and we saw the return of our last winter residents. What we were catching abundantly in September began to shift to other species that spend their winters in West Marin. Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Fox Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes can all be heard and seen often at our Palomarin Field Station now. Our final winter resident to return is the Varied Thrush, which we started to hear at the end of the month, but have not seen or captured yet. Stay tuned next month!

Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Hannah Conley.

Our first exciting October capture was a Yellow-Green Vireo, a vagrant (a bird outside of its usual range) usually found in Mexico, at our Pine Gulch banding site!

Yellow-green Vireo captured along Pine Gulch Creek in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. Photo by David Sherer.

On October 15th, while opening the nets at Redwood Creek in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near Muir Beach, an incredibly rare vagrant was captured. It was a Dusky Warbler, an Old World Warbler whose range is typically from Siberia to Southeast Asia. This is the second record for Marin County, the first being in 1997 at our Palomarin Field Station. Word quickly spread about this exciting capture, and many birders were able to come to the site and spot this nondescript (although fortunately vocal) little brown bird over the course of the next week.

Dusky Warbler captured along Redwood Creek in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Photo by Hannah Conley

We also had an exciting capture of one of our winter resident species, the Fox Sparrow. Last winter, geolocator tags were put on some individuals so we would be able to learn where these birds spend their spring and summer breeding. As more and more Fox Sparrows return to spend the winter in West Marin we have been anxiously awaiting the recapture of our tagged birds. On the 30th of October we recaptured one of these birds at our Pine Gulch banding site. We look forward to seeing what the tag has to tell us, and to the return of more of our tagged birds.

Here is a photo taken of the Fox Sparrow we caught at Pine Gulch on October 30th  right after the geolocator tag was put on it last winter.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 27 days (2922.25 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in October, we captured 203 new birds and recaptured 71 previously banded birds. A total of 274 birds of 32 species were caught this month. Approximately 10 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 318 new birds and recaptured 153 previously banded birds. A total of 471 birds of 41 species were caught over 22 banding days this month (1231.43 net hours), an average of approximately 21 birds per day.

We have caught a few Swamp Sparrows at our offsite Pine Gulch this October, as well as one at our Palomarin Field Station, which is the second one caught by those nets since 1969. Photo by Hannah Conley .

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on October 9 at Palomarin with 19 birds and October 30 at Pine Gulch with 44 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (64), Hermit Thrush (47), Golden-crowned Sparrow (21), Wrentit (19), and Townsend’s Warbler (19).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Fox Sparrow (96), Hermit Thrush (74), Song Sparrow (66), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (40), and Wrentit (32).

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were our most frequently captured bird this October at our Palomarin Field Station. The male has a ruby crown and the female does not. We catch both, but many more females. Photo by Hannah Conley.

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.