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, October 2017

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin banding intern Elise Zarri with help from Renée Cormier, 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:

October was a busy month at the Palomarin Field Station! We started the month with our annual fundraiser, the Bird-A-Thon (BAT), on October 2nd; while Point Blue didn’t have an official BAT this year, our team still got together to bird and raise funds for the Palomarin Field Station. The goal was to try to find as many bird species as possible in 24 hours in Marin County, while dressed up in our “fancy” clothes. It was a full day of birding for the Palomarin crew, starting at 5:40am! We saw 145 species and some of the highlights were 2 Magnolia Warblers and a Broad-winged Hawk in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Bird-A-Thon “Lookers” crew Oct. 2nd, Left to right: Mark Dettling, Kelly Franson, Steve Howell, Diana Humple, Megan Elrod, Hilary Allen, Renée Cormier, Elise Zarri, Brittany Panos, Meredith Heather, and Preston Duncan. Photo by Mark Dettling.

Luckily, the North Bay fires spared Bolinas and the Palomarin Field Station, but the air was smoky for most of the week of October 9th. We were unable to conduct banding for 4 days due to poor air quality, which was unsafe for banders, as well as the birds.

In better news, we had a group from the Partners In Flight Western Working Group visiting on October 11th. They observed banding, took a tour of Palomarin, and birded in the Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve. In addition, the fall interns finished their capstone projects (an independent project selected by each intern) and presented them to Point Blue staff. Meredith and Brittany worked on projects with Palomarin banding data, Kelly created a new training tool for future banding interns, and Elise made a guide for the Nature Trail at Palomarin.

The fall banders studied hard for their banding certifications from the North American Banding Council and they took the three-part test October 24-26. Everyone did a great job and passed with flying colors!

Female Varied Thrush at Palomarin, October 19. Photo by Meredith Heather.
Female Varied Thrush at Palomarin, October 19. Photo by Meredith Heather.

More of the common wintering birds showed up at Palomarin in October including the first White-throated Sparrow on Oct. 16th, the first Varied Thrush on Oct. 19th, and the first Red-breasted Sapsucker on Oct. 20th. Another exciting capture at Palomarin was an Acorn Woodpecker on Oct. 13th. This was only the 4th Acorn Woodpecker captured at Palomarin in the past 17 years, and the thirteenth ever captured since 1966!

First-year female Acorn Woodpecker at Palomarin, October 13. Photo by Brittany Panos.

At our other mist netting sites around Marin County, we caught our first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the winter, as well as a Tennessee Warbler and 2 Marsh Wrens at Pine Gulch Creek in Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve on October 17th. For the Tennessee Warbler, this was only our 16th ever captured, and 12 of those records are from the 1970s and 80s. We also caught a Hammond’s Flycatcher at Muddy Hollow in the Point Reyes National Seashore on Oct. 13th and a Palm Warbler at Pine Gulch Creek on Oct. 26th.

A first-year Tennessee Warbler at Pine Gulch, October 17. Photo by Kelly Franson.
A first-year Tennessee Warbler at Pine Gulch, October 17. Photo by Kelly Franson.

At the end of October, we had our first 2 winter banding interns arrive at Palomarin, excited to start their training! We are moving into the transition time between fall and winter seasons and we were sad to say goodbye to Meredith, who was a bander for spring/summer and fall.

A first-year Marsh Wren at Pine Gulch, October 17. Photo by Meredith Heather.

Let’s Do the Numbers:

In 25 days (2740.84 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin in October, we captured 191 new birds and recaptured 91 previously banded birds. A total of 282 birds of 31 species were caught. Approximately 11 birds were caught per banding day.

At our other West Marin banding sites, we captured 274 new birds and recaptured 100 previously banded birds. A total of 374 birds of 34 species were caught over 17 banding days in October (900.81 net hours), an average of approximately 23 birds per day.

The highest capture rates at Palomarin and our other West Marin banding sites were on October 16th at Palomarin with 19 birds and October 17th at Pine Gulch with 53 birds.

At Palomarin the highest numbers were captured for the following species: Fox Sparrow (39), Hermit Thrush (38), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (31), Oregon Junco (28), and Wrentit (26).

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Fox Sparrow (78), Hermit Thrush (59), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (42), Song Sparrow (38), and Wrentit (22).

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.