Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Marsh Sparrow Banding Results

This was the second winter season of banding marsh sparrows on Kiawah Island.  Last year, 20 different sites were sampled once during the winter.  This year I choose 10 of those site to revisit but sampled them twice during the winter with a least 45 days between banding sessions.  We banded 323 new birds with 149 recaptures of 9 different species compared to 308 new birds and 1 recapture of 8 species last year.

SPECIES                                       2013                             2012
Nelson's Sparrow (NESP)             39 (13)                            115           
Saltmarsh Sparrow (SALS)           24 (28)                           64 (1)
Seaside Sparrow (SESP)             245 (107)                         106
Clapper Rail                                      3                                   1
Sedge Wren                                      0                                   4
Marsh Wren                                   4 (1)                               13
Yellow-rumped Warbler                    1                                   0
Palm Warbler                                    2                                   0
Savannah Sparrow                            3                                   4
Swamp Sparrow                               2                                   1
TOTAL                                     323 (149)                        308 (1)

We experienced a large decrease in Nelson's Sparrows captures from last year while Seaside Sparrows captures more than tripled.  I thought the differences may have been attributed to the fact that we did not sample as many sites as last year.  But when just comparing the sites that were sampled in both years, larges differences still occurred in NESP and SESP numbers.  Saltmarsh Sparrow numbers appear to not to have fluctuated to the extent the other two species have.  Because this is only the second year of banding it is hard to say whether or not this is just a normal fluctuation in their winter population.   

Nelson's Sparrow (alterus)

Nelson's Sparrow (subvirgatus)

SESP and SALS do appear to have a great deal of site fidelity to their wintering sites based on evidence from the number of recaptures from birds banded in 2012.  Alternatively, NESP exhibited fairly poor site fidelity in relation to SESP and SALS.  Only 6% of the NESP banded in 2012 were recaptured in 2013.  While SALS and SESP had an astounding 42% and 44% return rate, respectively, from 2012.

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow

We had 3 long-distance recoveries this winter - all Saltmarsh Sparrows!  One was actually a bird that was captured last year and recaptured again this winter.  It was originally banded at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts on 8/03/11 and captured at Kiawah Island on 4/18/12 and 2/13/13 in the exact same patch of cover!  Another was banded in Queens, NY in the saltmarsh just east of the JFK Airport on 8/01/12 and captured on Kiawah Island on 3/10/13.  Yet another was banded at Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island on 7/16/12 and captured on Kiawah Island on 4/07/13.

Clapper Rail

I would like to thank all of the volunteers that slogged around the saltmarsh chasing sparrows this winter!  It is not easy work and I appreciate your willingness and eagerness to keep coming back for more.  I could not have done it without your support!


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