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, March 2019

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Olivia Wang and Sarah Mueller with help from 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.

Explore Point Blue’s website to learn more.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

With the changing of the seasons comes some changes to Palomarin as well. We said goodbye to our winter banders Nick and Sarah, and welcomed a new crew of banders for the spring. Sophie and Olivia, two California natives, started in the beginning of March, while Sam and Sarah, hailing from Maryland and Utah, respectively, started a few weeks later. All four spent the first month studying hard and receiving extensive training to prepare for the season ahead. In addition to the new flock of interns, there were some exciting birds seen, heard, and captured that marked the start of spring!

Palomarin intern Olivia Wang with a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk. Photo by Lisa Hug.


Wilson’s Warblers were heard singing starting in mid-March – a sure sign that spring was here – but weren’t caught until a week later. Our other signs of spring include nesting activity around the field station. Barn Swallows have returned to their nest on the side of the building, and a pair of Western Bluebirds were spotted displaying breeding behaviors right outside the kitchen window. Other exciting birds heard and seen throughout March included our first Northern Saw-whet Owl, Pacific-slope Flycatchers, and Violet-green Swallows for the year.

March also contained some exciting captures both at Palomarin and our off-sites. At Palomarin, we caught a male and a female pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches at the same time. It was an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast their plumage differences.

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch and female Red-breasted Nuthatch. The male has more black on top of its head which contrasts more sharply with the blue-gray back. Photos by Olivia Wang


During our first day this year at our offsite Muddy Hollow (in Point Reyes National Seashore), we captured an adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk. Later on in the month we recaptured a young male Sharp-shinned Hawk at Palomarin, making for another fun comparison opportunity – this time between the adult and juvenile plumages (and eye color!) of the hawks.

Adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk and juvenile male Sharp-shinned Hawk. Adults have red eyes, blue-gray back and wings, and a barred orange breast while juveniles have yellow eyes, brown back and wings, and a brown streaked breast. Photos by Sophie Noda and Olivia Wang.


On March 17th at Palomarin, we caught a Pileated Woodpecker – the 10th ever in Palo history! Other highlights include a Varied Thrush, an Anna’s Hummingbird, a House Wren, and a Black Phoebe.

Female Varied Thrush. Photo by Olivia Wang

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 14 days (1,222.03 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in March, we captured 36 new birds and recaptured 56 previously banded birds. A total of 92 birds of 21 species were caught. Approximately 7 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 74 new birds and recaptured 52 previously banded birds. A total of 126 birds of 26 species were caught over 9 banding days in March (448.78 net hours), an average of 14 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on March 6th at Palomarin with 24 birds and March 7th at Muddy Hollow (in Point Reyes National Seashore) with 23 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (18), Oregon Junco (11), Orange-crowned Warbler (10), Wrentit (8), Allen’s Hummingbird (5), and Bushtit (5).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (22), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (17), Bewick’s Wren (10), Fox Sparrow (10), and Oregon Junco (10).


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 open to the public.  Consider visiting us!  Learn how on our contact & visit us web page.