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, November 2017

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Michael Mahoney, Krista Fanucchi and Kimberly Navarro with help from Hilary Allen, 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:

As the seasons change, so too does our seasonal banding crew here at the Palomarin Field Station. We greeted the first heavy rains in November along with four new seasonal banding interns: Krista, Kimberly, Nicole and Mike.

While all of the species encountered during banding are thrilling for new interns, some notable November captures at the Palomarin Field Station included a male Varied Thrush as well as a hatch-year (a bird hatched within 2017) male Cooper’s Hawk! We typically do not catch large birds like Cooper’s Hawks because the size of the nets that we use primarily target much smaller species. On November 15th we caught both a juvenile and an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk at Uppers (an offsite location within the Palomarin study area) on the same day, giving us an excellent opportunity to compare the variation in plumage and iris color between young and adult birds!

Hatch-year Sharp-shinned Hawk at Uppers. Photo by Elise Zarri
Hatch-year male Sharp-shinned Hawk at Uppers. Photo by Elise Zarri
After hatch-year Sharp-shinned Hawk at Uppers. Photo by Elise Zarri
Adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk at Uppers. Photo by Elise Zarri
Hatch-year male Cooper's Hawk at Palo. Photo by Mike Mahoney
Hatch-year male Cooper’s Hawk at Palomarin. Photo by Mike Mahoney

The banding interns were a bit surprised to capture a Wilson’s Warbler at Muddy Hollow in the Point Reyes National Seashore at the beginning of November. Though Wilson’s Warblers are abundant here in the breeding season, the winter range of this Neotropical migrant usually extends from the Southern California coast through Mexico and into Panama. Was this particular bird just an unusually late migrant, or will we potentially recapture this individual again this winter?

We also caught two hatch-year male Orange-crowned Warblers at Pine Gulch in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve on November 20th. Though we do encounter this species throughout the year, it is relatively uncommon to catch them in the winter months. Additionally, the Orange-crowned Warblers that winter in this area are likely a different sub-population than those that breed here in the spring/summer.

Bewick's Wren at Pine Gulch. Photo by Krista Fanucchi
Bewick’s Wren at Pine Gulch. Photo by Krista Fanucchi

There are yet more transitions to speak of! After Thanksgiving we switched to our winter schedule, banding only three days a week at Palo (Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday).

Everyone took Thanksgiving day off to spend with family and friends. Nicole, Elise, and Krista, headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday while Kim and Mike joined staff for a Thanksgiving birding trip along Bolinas Lagoon. They all enjoyed good company and got to see some Surf Scoters, Whimbrels, and Harbor Seals!

Thanksgiving day birding trip with interns, staff, and friends. Photo by Kimberly Navarro
Thanksgiving day birding trip with interns, staff, and friends. Photo by Kimberly Navarro

As November came to an end we said goodbye to the last of the fall interns. Thank you for doing an excellent job guiding the winter crew through their first few weeks here at Palo!

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 21 days (2472.51 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in November, we captured 98 new birds and recaptured 100 previously banded birds. A total of 198 birds of 20 species were caught. Approximately 9 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 125 new birds and recaptured 75 previously banded birds. A total of 200 birds of 27 species were caught over 9 banding days in November (523.29 net hours), an average of approximately 22 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on November 6th at Palomarin with 21 birds and November 20th at Pine Gulch with 41 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (41), Wrentit (28), Fox Sparrow (26), Golden-crowned Kinglet (17), and Oregon Junco (15).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (50), Song Sparrow (25), Fox Sparrow (17), Puget Sound White-crowned Sparrow (14), and Hermit Thrush (14).

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.