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, December 2018

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Sarah Fensore and Nick Liadis with help from Hilary Allen and 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:

Pine Gulch sunrise. Photo by Sarah Fensore

It’s beginning to feel like winter at the Palomarin Field Station. Winter banders Nick and Sarah are finally getting into the groove of things. We continue to observe large numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and they continue to be captured in flocks, especially in our mist nets located in the scrub habitat. Although predominantly consisting of Yellow-rumped Warblers, the flocks we’ve observed have also contained Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Townsend’s Warblers, Western Palm Warblers, and Nashville Warblers. On one occasion during our closing net run, we observed 65 birds flying overhead! A very warbler-y December indeed! Interestingly enough, the warblers continue to be observed and caught in relatively high numbers at the Palomarin Field Station, but have been scarce at our offsite banding station at Pine Gulch (part of the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve).

Audubon’s Warbler, a subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Sarah Fensore

The winter interns have had a bit of banding Déjà vu this month. In our November blog post, we noted our unusual Western Palm Warbler and Nashville Warbler captures, which occurred on the same day. In December, an identical scenario! On the same day again, we captured another new Western Palm Warbler and Nashville Warbler! Another notable species captured at the Palomarin Field Station this month was the Red-breasted Sapsucker, of which we banded two.

Red-breasted Sapsucker. Photo by Sarah Fensore

At our Pine Gulch banding site, we’ve seen a multitude of sparrow species including two subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel’s and Puget Sound), Golden-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Lincoln’s Sparrow. The only sparrow species that we have seen around the banding station but have not captured is Savannah Sparrow. They seem to stay a bit further from our mist nets, preferring the shorter grass near the lagoon edge rather than the riparian areas.

Swamp Sparrow and Song Sparrow comparison. Photo by Sarah Fensore

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 15 days (1662.60 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in December, we captured 81 new birds and recaptured 46 previously banded birds. A total of 127 birds of 20 species were caught. Approximately 8 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding site, we captured 18 new birds and recaptured 34 previously banded birds. A total of 52 birds of 16 species were caught over 3 banding days in December (151.5 net hours), an average of approximately 17 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding site were on December 9th at Palomarin with 38 birds and December 7th at Pine Gulch with 27 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (30), Yellow-rumped Warbler (24), Hermit Thrush (13), Wrentit (11), and Fox Sparrow (10).

At the off-site, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (13), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (10), Common Yellowthroat (8), and Bewick’s Wren (4).

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.