Point Blue Conservation Science: Monthly Banding Summary, February 2018
April 13, 2018
This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Krista Fanucchi and Nicole Gaudenti with help from Hilary Allen and Mark Dettling, Banding Supervisors.
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:
Many exciting captures to speak of this month! The banding interns were very surprised to capture a Rufous Hummingbird at Palomarin on 2/10. The Rufous Hummingbird is a long distant migrant who winters in Southern California and Mexico and breeds in Oregon and further north into Alaska. We often encounter Rufous Hummingbirds during their long migration along the Pacific Coast; however, this is an unusually early detection for this time of the year! The closely related Allen’s Hummingbird is what we would expect to see this early in February, considering they make a less extensive migration and also breed in the Point Reyes area. The Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbird look very similar and can be difficult to tell apart in the field and in the hand (when banding). In order to tell the difference between the two species while banding, we look at the shape and size of certain tail feathers. We caught our first Allen’s Hummingbird this year on 2/21. Click here to read a Palomarin publication about the timing of these two species here in the Point Reyes area.
Other exciting captures this month included a Red-breasted Sapsucker on 2/8 at one of our West Marin offsite locations. Red-breasted Sapsuckers spend the winter in Marin and although we have been hearing them around, this was our first capture for the season!
Interns were also thrilled at the opportunity to band an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk on 2/23 at another offsite location. Most of the Sharp-shinned Hawks that we catch are young birds which have a very different plumage from the adults.
Although February typically has low capture rates for banding, interns were kept busy studying for the North American Banding Council (NABC) bander training and certification exam. They also spent time out in the field finishing up their winter bird census, which is another method we use to measure bird abundance and diversity here at Palomarin.
Banding interns joined the STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) crew for a restoration day at Sonoma Creek on 2/9. Everyone enjoyed planting salt grass (Distichlis spicata) and learning more about the STRAW program. The first stages of the Sonoma Creek restoration project included the removal of sections of the marsh to create channels that allow tidal flow into the marsh. Now the restoration has moved onto the planting stage and school groups are currently assisting STRAW interns/technicians with planting and watering salt grass, alkali heath, and marsh gumplant. All of their collaborative hard work provides habitat for birds and other wildlife and contributes to a healthier marshland. If you want to learn more about the STRAW program, click here.
February marks that final full month of the winter banding internship. Once March comes around the field station will be busy with new interns and the excitement of spring!
Let’s Do the Numbers:
In 14 days (1,358.83 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in February, we captured 13 new birds and recaptured 21 previously banded birds. A total of 34 birds of 13 species were caught. Approximately 2 birds were caught per banding day.
At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 39 new birds and recaptured 40 previously banded birds. A total of 79 birds of 20 species were caught over 9 banding days in February (345.73 net hours), an average of approximately 11 birds per day.
The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on February 24th at Palomarin with 7 birds and February 11 at Pine Gulch with 23 birds.
At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (8), Song Sparrow (8), Pacific Wren (4), Fox Sparrow (4), and Hutton’s Vireo (2).
Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Fox Sparrow (18), Song Sparrow (14), Hermit Thrush (9), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (5), Bewick’s Wren (5), and Wrentit (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.