Taking the Long View: An inside look at the goings-on at the longest running avian ecology field station west of the Mississippi.

Winter Season Banding Summary, November 2022-January 2023

Come explore the exciting new captures and returning birds of our Winter season!

This summary was compiled by Point Blue’s Palomarin Banding Apprentices (in reverse alphabetical order: Sam Rapp, Greyson Poutas, Anna Douglas, and Cristobal Castañeda) with help from Mike Mahoney, Banding Supervisor. 

Exciting Captures and Observations:

As the fall season drew to a close, the team here at Palomarin (Palo) geared up for the arrival of wintering birds at the field station and our off-site banding stations. We continued to do intensive banding at our field station though the week of Thanksgiving before switching to our 10-day banding periods. Although we expected that the majority of fall migrants had already passed through the seashore, we still were surprised by the diversity of birds we caught.

Winter season also meant that banders got much needed time off during the winter holidays to visit friends and family! Banding at Palo takes place on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the remainder of the winter (plus the occasional “off-site”, each of which we monitor once every 10 days). Additionally, many parts of California received much needed precipitation, which also means that we had many days where we did not operate the nets to ensure the safety of the birds.

Despite slower banding days, the fall crew caught its first Varied Thrush, and many American Robins. They also continued to capture common wintering species such as Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes, as well as year round residents such as Anna’s Hummingbirds, Wrentits, Song Sparrows, and Bewick’s Wrens.  

Song Sparrow captured at Muddy Hollow in Point Reyes National Seashore on December 20, 2023; Photo credits: Sam Lee Rapp.


Varied Thrush captured at Palomarin Field Station on December 18, 2022; Photo credits: Greyson Poutas.


Atmospheric rivers throughout the Bay Area lead to very high amounts of rain in late December and early January. However, in February and March, Palo residents have made note of many plants waking back up, in the form of breaking leaf buds, budding flowers, and young pollen cones (data we also collect at our study sites and contribute to the USA National Phenology Network). Certain bird species such as the Hutton’s Vireo and Pacific Wren around then also began to sing around the field station, clear signs of spring being just around the corner!

Let’s Do the Numbers: 

In 50 days (5556.58 net hours) of mist-netting at Palomarin from November through the end of January, we captured 138 new birds and recaptured 143 previously banded birds. A total of 281 birds of 26 species were caught, with an average of approximately 6 birds caught per banding day. 

At our four other West Marin banding sites (our “off-sites” mentioned above), we captured 217  new birds and recaptured 234 previously banded birds. A total of 451 birds of 26 species were caught over 27 banding days in November through the end of January (1467.47 net hours), an average of approximately 17 birds per day.

The highest capture rate at Palomarin was on 13th January 2023 with 13 birds. Our other West Marin banding sites saw a high count of 46 birds at Pine Gulch on January 6th 2023.

At Palomarin, the following species were caught in the highest numbers: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Townsend’s Warbler, and Wrentit.

Across all off-sites, the highest numbers of captures by species were: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Song Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Wrentit.

About these Summaries:

Point Blue apprentices 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, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve; to our surrounding Bolinas and West Marin community; and to numerous Point Blue and Palomarin supporters, 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.