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 2018

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding interns Sarah Fensore and Nick Liadis 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:

November brought with it a lot of changes to Palomarin. The transition from the fall to the winter banding season meant saying goodbye to fall banders Nicole and Mike, and welcoming the winter crew, Nick and Sarah, who came from Pennsylvania and Maine, respectively.

The mid-month start to the season was marked by smoke-filled skies and daily stories of tragedy and damage from the infamous Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Smoke from the enormous late-season fire—further compounded by unfavorable winds—inundated the Bay Area, making it unsafe to band for almost two weeks.

Smoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise CA seen along the Pt. Reyes coast line. Photos by Sarah Fensore

When the air finally cleared and banding started again, we were pleasantly surprised by the capture of a Nashville Warbler and Western Palm Warbler. These were unusual captures not only because these species occur infrequently at the field station, but also because they were caught in the same net together! Both Western Palm Warblers and Nashville Warblers can winter in west Marin, though usually in very low numbers.

A Western Palm Warbler captured at Palomarin on Nov 11th. Photo by Sarah Fensore
A Nashville Warbler caught at Palomarin on Nov 11th. Photo by Sarah Fensore.

On November 25th we caught our first big flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Thirteen of these birds were in the nets together! Yellow-rumped Warblers flock together in winter, often in high numbers and with other species like Townsend’s Warblers. The majority of the flock that we captured consisted of the Audubon’s subspecies, but a few were the Myrtle subspecies, and one couldn’t be definitively identified as either because it had characteristics of both subspecies. A flock of this size is of interest because typically we don’t catch many Yellow-rumped Warblers at the Palomarin Field Station, even though we detect them in the area. In fact, we haven’t caught Yellow-rumped Warblers in such high numbers here at Palomarin for over 10 years!

And while we typically don’t catch many Yellow-rumped Warblers at Palomarin, we do often catch them in high numbers at Pine Gulch, our offsite banding station in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. This year, however, we’ve only caught 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers at Pine Gulch so far. They’ve all come to Palo instead!

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 16 days (1410.00 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in November, we captured 93 new birds and recaptured 49 previously banded birds. A total of 142 birds of 22 species were caught. Approximately 9 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding site, we captured 24 new birds and recaptured 25 previously banded birds. A total of 49 birds of 13 species were caught over 3 banding days in November (129.70 net hours), an average of approximately 16 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding site were on November 25th at Palomarin with 26 birds and November 26th at Pine Gulch with 23 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (27), Hermit Thrush (17), Wrentit (17), Yellow-rumped Warbler (15), and Oregon Junco (12).

At the off-site, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Song Sparrow (16), Fox Sparrow (6), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (6).

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.