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-July 2018

This summary was compiled by Mark Dettling (Banding Supervisor) from the data collected by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Francoise Benjamin, Christian Cormier, Chad Cremer, and Sarah Fensore.

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.

Exciting Captures and Observations:

The spring and summer really flew by! This post will be a quick summary of the entire breeding season. Like always it was a busy one! Starting in March we welcomed a new set of interns, including four banding interns, three nest searching interns, and two Spotted Owl interns. During the first month they receive intense training on the techniques needed to complete the work they will be doing the rest of the summer. At the same time migrant birds are returning and all the birds are starting to nest, so the station is aflutter with activity.

Palomarin and Spotted Owl interns and staff, summer 2018. Left to right standing: Renée Cormier, Hilary Allen, Sarah Fensore, Mike Mahoney, Francoise Benjamin, Christian Cormier, Nick Gabry, Rachel Weisbeck, Eliza Montgomery, Danaé Mouton, Preston Duncan, Mark Dettling. Sitting: Mochi and Chad Cremer. Staff not pictured: Megan Elrod, Ryan DiGaudio, Tom Gardali, Geoff Geupel, Diana Humple, and Igby. Photo by Mark Dettling.


It was another excellent season! The members of this crew will move on to other wildlife jobs, graduate school, or some much deserved vacation. Thanks for all your hard work!

Every bird we capture is an exciting opportunity to learn something, but some are exciting just because we don’t capture many of them. At Palomarin, we caught a Pileated Woodpecker on March 11th, which was only the 9th one we’ve ever caught. On June 14th, the big surprise was a Hooded Warbler, our 4th at Palo and 11th across all sites (we have 4 other long-term banding sites in west Marin County that are also part of the Palo project). A Belted Kingfisher was caught at Palo on July 27th, only the 6th at this site. Some other uncommon captures at Palomarin were an Olive-sided Flycatcher (May 3), two MacGillivray’s Warblers (May 5 and June 8), a Band-tailed Pigeon (May 17), and a Western Tanager (July 11).

Chad releasing a Pileated Woodpecker (March 11, 2018) adult female. Ninth one banded at Palomarin. Photo by Christian Cormier.
Hooded Warbler (June 14, 2018) second-year female. Fourth one banded at Palomarin. Photo by Christian Cormier.
Belted Kingfisher (July 27, 2018) young female. Sixth one banded at Palomarin. Photo by volunteer Joseph Zeno.
Western Tanager (July 11, 2018) second-year male. First capture since 2015, although this species was a much more common capture 40 years ago. Photo by Sarah Fensore.
Close up of Western Tanager (July 11, 2018) second-year male. Photo by Sarah Fensore.


At our Pine Gulch banding site (part of the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve), we enjoyed capturing multiple Tree Swallows in late March through early April. We catch them most often in the early spring, and they are always a treat to see in the hand. We captured two European Starlings (May 1 and 10 at Redwood Creek in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) and a Brown-headed Cowbird (June 21 at Pine Gulch). Though we commonly see these two species, it is an uncommon occurrence to catch either one and a nice chance to examine them up close. A Nashville Warbler caught at Pine Gulch on April 10 was only our 8th spring capture of this species. We catch more of them in the fall. At Muddy Hollow (in the Point Reyes National Seashore) we caught a Rose-breasted Grosbeak on July 5. This was our 19th capture of this species (third time at Muddy Hollow) and the first since 2007.

Tree Swallow (March 2018) adult, unknown sex. Photo by Sarah Fensore.
European Starling (May 1, 2018) adult female. Photo by Sarah Fensore.
Nashville Warbler (April 10, 2018) adult, unknown sex. Photo by Sarah Fensore.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (July 5, 2018) second-year male. First capture since 2007. Photo by Sarah Fensore.


Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 105 days (11,588.81 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in March through July, we captured 560 new birds and recaptured 380 previously banded birds. A total of 940 birds of 38 species were caught. Approximately 9 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 907 new birds and recaptured 569 previously banded birds. A total of 1476 birds of 48 species were caught over 58 banding days in March through July (3,110.56 net hours), an average of approximately 25 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on July 19th at Palomarin with 35 birds and July 6th at Pine Gulch with 67 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Wilson’s Warbler (189), Wrentit (136), Swainson’s Thrush (106), Allen’s Hummingbird (61), and Song Sparrow (56).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Wilson’s Warbler (330), Song Sparrow (250), Swainson’s Thrush (224), Wrentit (65), and Common Yellowthroat (54).

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 Palomarin Field Station is open to the public.  Consider visiting us! Learn how by going to our visitor information web page.