Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Fall Migration Banding Summary

The 2014 fall migration banding station at the Kiawah Island Banding Station officially ended yesterday!  Nets were opened for a total of 103 days (out of a possible 108) from August 15 - November 30th.  Despite a very rainy September and October, we only had to cancel banding on five days due to bad weather.    

We banded 5,083 new birds and had 1,334 recaptures of 80 different species.  The most commonly banded species were Common Yellowthroats (1,217), Gray Catbirds (1,046), and Yellow-rumped Warblers (843).  Those three species combined made up 61% of all the birds banded this season!

We banded 6 species never before banded at KIBS:  Cooper's Hawk, Clapper Rail, Eastern Screech-Owl, Sedge Wren, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

We increased our effort from 9,584.2 net-hours in 2013 to 11,565.5 net-hours this year.  This increase was mainly due to the addition of 3 new nets along the dunes and that we banded on 5 more days than last year.  

We also had a bunch of recaptures from birds that were banded in previous seasons.  It will take a while to sort through all those records to determine how many unique returns we actually had as some of those were undoubtedly captured more than once during the fall.

We banded 554 more birds this fall compared to last year but the capture rate decrease by 3.4 birds/100 net-hours.  This decrease is due to the increased effort recorded this year.  Interestingly but not surprising, the capture rate of recaptures remained about the same (11.5 birds/100 net-hours in 2014 and 11.9 birds/100 net-hours in 2013).

There were no rarities banded this year - so breaks the 3 year streak of Bell's Vireos.  Other notable species absent this year included Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch, Swainson's Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Canada Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird    

The following is a photographic recap of the some of the highlights from this season:

Yellow-throated Warbler


Clapper Rail

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Grasshopper Sparrow

Sedge Wren

Eastern Screech-Owl

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

2014 FALL SEASON TOTALS
*Numbers in parentheses indicate the # of recaptures

HAWKS
Sharp-shinned Hawk 9 (4)
Cooper's Hawk 1

DOVES
Mourning Dove 3
Common Ground-Dove 14 (11)

CUCKOOS
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 11

OWLS
Eastern Screech-Owl 1 (2)

NIGHTJARS
Eastern Whip-poor-will 1

WOODPECKERS
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 6
Downy Woodpecker 7 (10)

FLYCATCHERS
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Acadian Flycatcher 1
Alder Flycatcher 3
Willow Flycatcher 5
"Traill's" Flycatcher 15 (2)
Eastern Phoebe 26 (1)
Ash-throated Flycatcher 1 (1)
Great Crested Flycatcher 3

VIREOS
White-eyed Vireo 63 (51)
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 185 (28)

CORVIDS
Blue Jay 2 (3)

SWALLOWS
Tree Swallow 31

CHICKADEES, NUTHATCHES, and CREEPERS
Carolina Chickadee 12 (38)
Tufted Titmouse 3 (5)
Brown Creeper 2 (1)

WRENS
House Wren 46 (26)
Sedge Wren 1
Carolina Wren 11 (28)

KINGLETS and GNATCATCHERS
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 7
Golden-crowned Kinglet 7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 80 (17)

THRUSHES
Veery 9
Gray-cheeked Thrush 7
Swainson's Thrush 26 (1)
Hermit Thrush 56 (22)
Wood Thrush 6
American Robin 1

MIMIDS
Gray Catbird 1,046 (478)
Brown Thrasher 13 (5)
Northern Mockingbird  13(20)

WOOD WARBLERS
Ovenbird 39 (15)
Worm-eating Warbler 8
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Northern Waterthrush 94 (4)
Black-and-White Warbler 33 (13)
Prothonotary Warbler 5 (2)
Tennessee Warbler 7 (1)
Orange-crowned Warbler 7
Nashville Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1,217 (86)
Hooded Warbler 4
American Redstart 182 (18)
Cape May Warbler 9
Northern Parula 19
Magnolia Warbler 9
Yellow Warbler 28
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2 (1)
Blackpoll Warbler 3
Black-throated Blue Warbler 67 (2)
Palm Warbler 95 (1) - "Western" 92 (1), "Yellow" 3
Pine Warbler 2 (1)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 843 (103)
Yellow-throated Warbler 1
Prairie Warbler 188 (15)
Yellow-breasted Chat 3 (2)

SPARROWS
Eastern Towhee 8 (11)
Chipping Sparrow 1
Grasshopper Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 32 (14)
Swamp Sparrow 79 (35)
White-throated Sparrow 10 (5)
White-crowned Sparrow 1

CARDINALS and BUNTINGS
Summer Tanager 4
Scarlet Tanager 6
Northern Cardinal 57 (113)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Blue Grosbeak 1
Indigo Bunting 64 (3)
Painted Bunting 210 (136)

FINCHES
House Finch 3

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  5,083
#of Recaptures:  1,334
# of Species:  80
Effort:  11,565.6 net-hours
Capture Rate:   55.4 birds/100 net-hours
# of Days Banded:  103


I would like to thank all those that made this season such a great success: the banding assistants (Mattie VandenBoom, Libby Natola, Matt Zak, and William Oakley); the Kiawah Island Conservancy for providing funding for the hiring and housing of 3 banding assistants; the Town of Kiawah Island for allowing me to take on an extremely time consuming project, and the funding for one banding assistant; Kiawah Partners for allowing access to their property; and finally to all the volunteers that donated their time to either come out and help or just to observe.    

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Last Day of the 2014 Fall Migration Banding Season

On the last day of the 2014 fall banding season, I banded 17 new birds and had 19 recaptures of 10 different species.  I have been catching the same 7-8 species for the last two weeks so it was nice to get an Eastern Phoebe and a Downy Woodpecker.

I will be putting together a summary post tomorrow with the season's totals and highlights. Winter banding will begin around December 10th with banding occurring every 10 days through the end of March. In addition, our forth season of winter marsh sparrow banding will begin around December 6th to coincide with the higher (> 6 feet) daytime high tides.  If anybody is interested in helping out with marsh sparrow banding let me know.  I can always use the help with this project.

Thank you following along with us again this season.  I am planning to do occasional blog posts for winter songbird banding and marsh sparrow banding - so check back over the winter


LAST BIRD OF THE SEASON
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Hatch-year, female)  




NEW BIRDS
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
11 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 House Wren
1 Carolina Wren
2 Hermit Thrush
9 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  17
# of Recaptures:  19
# of Species:  10
Effort:  164.7 net-hours
Capture Rate:  21.9 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Strong Day for Swampies

It was a chilly start to the morning but it warmed up quickly.  There was absolutely no wind which was a nice change - too bad there wasn't more birds around.  Swamp Sparrows must have been on the move last night because I banded 6 of them today.  The last time more than 2 Swamp Sparrows were banded in one day was way back on November 8th.

Tomorrow is the last day of the fall banding season.  The weather should be ideal for mist netting - I just hope there are more birds around tomorrow than there were today.  

NEW BIRDS
1 Hermit Thrush
12 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
6 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 House Wren
1 Hermit Thrush
5 Gray Catbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Song Sparrow
2 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  20
# of Recaptures:  17
# of Species:  8
Effort:  160.2 net-hours
Capture Rate:  23.1 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23 (4 nets opened late because they were frozen shut!)

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given


Friday, November 28, 2014

28 November 2014

It was a cold and windy start to the morning and as a result we only banded 16 new birds and 12 recaptures of 10 different species.  Because of the wind and colder temperatures, I did not open 10 nets and 7 others were opened later than normal.  One Common Yellowthroat was banded which was kind of a surprise as we had not banded one in almost 3 weeks.  It will be another chilly morning tomorrow but the wind is predicted to be fairly calm, so I should be able to open all of the nets without having to worry about the birds getting stressed in the nets.      

NEW BIRDS
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Common Yellowthroat
9 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 House Wren
2 Carolina Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Common Yellowthroat
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 White-throated Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  16
# of Recaptures:  12
# of Species:  10
Effort:  66.6 net-hours
Capture Rate:  42.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  13 (10 nets not opened due to cold and wind; 7 other nets opened late)

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Rob Smith

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Windy Thanksgiving

It was a windy start to this Thanksgiving Day and it just got windier as the morning went on forcing me to close the nets down early.  Just as well as I had dinner I needed to prepare.
 

NEW BIRDS
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Palm Warbler (Yellow)
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
3 White-throated Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Eastern Towhee
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  12
# of Recaptures:  8
# of Species:  10
Effort:  69.0 net-hours
Capture Rate:  29.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  21

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

5000 Birds Banded this Fall!

Yesterday's rains continued throughout the night and into this morning preventing me from opening nets at the normal time.  The rain started to clear around 11:00am and with help from Matt Johnson we got out there and most nets were open by noon.  Because most of the morning was a wash, I decided to go until dark.

We banded 22 new birds and had 12 recaptures of 11 different species.  The 4th bird banded today was the 5000th bird banded this season!  Fittingly for this time of year, it was a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  We had pretty decent variety of recaptures with 10 different species including the Prairie Warbler again.  She seems to like net #14...

NEW BIRDS
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
18 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Carolina Wren
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  22
# of Recaptures:  12
# of Species:  11
Effort:  117.0 net-hours
Capture Rate:  29.1 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Matt Johnson


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Another Rain Out

I got rained out again today.  Tomorrow is looking like more rain but I may be able to get out later in the morning.

Monday, November 24, 2014

24 November 2014

The wind was not as bad as the weather forecast made it out to be.  It also helped that the winds were from the Southwest which doesn't affect the nets as much as other directions.

I banded 25 new birds and had 18 recaptures of 8 different species today.  Good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers were out today with 22 of them banded.

More rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days but after that it looks like the last 4 days of the season (Thursday - Sunday) will have sunny skies and cooler temperatures.

NEW BIRDS
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
22 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
5 Gray Catbird
7 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  25
# of Recaptures:  18
# of Species:  8
Effort:  142.1 net-hours
Capture Rate:  30.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rained Out

It's been raining nonstop most of the day and I was not able to get out to the banding station this morning.  The next few days are looking iffy as well.  


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tree Swallows and Prairie Warbler

It was a blustery day with winds reaching 15 mph (with gusts to 20) by mid-morning causing me to close down a little bit earlier that normal.  The radar show decent movements of migrants across the Carolinas last night however, that did not reflect the number of birds that were banded today.  I only only banded 15 new birds and had 14 recaptures of 10 different species.  I suspect the wind hurt me some today.

The highlight of today was the capture of 3 Tree Swallows.  I was quite surprised to see them in the net as I did not see any flocks of swallows flying around today.  I guess a small flock must have landed to feed on wax myrtles while I was at the other end of the banding station.  Another interesting bird was the recaptured Prairie Warbler.  This bird was banded in the early November and has been recaptured a couple times since.  Perhaps she is going to spend the winter at the banding station.

NEW BIRDS
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
3 Tree Swallow
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
4 Gray Catbird
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded: 15
# of Recaptures:  14
# of Species:  10
Effort:  111.4 net-hours
Capture Rate:  26.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given

 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Banding Assistants' Last Day

Today was the banding assistants' last day.  I was hoping for a busier day but we only managed to band 16 new birds with 17 recaptures of 11 different species.    I would like to thank them for a wonderful season!  We had a record breaking season with regard to the total number of birds banded (and I still have 9 days left) and I could not have done it without there dedication to the project.  They put in so much effort over the last three months, enduring the heat and humidity of late August to the below freezing temperatures that we have experienced over the last few days.  To huddling under the canopy tent waiting for a rain shower to pass, to swatting what seems like an endless supply of mosquitoes, they did it with a smile.  I wish them the best of luck in the future as they move on to the next chapter of their wildlife career!  

2014 KIBS Fall Banding Crew
From left to right (Mattie, Libby, William, Matt, and Aaron)
 

NEW BIRDS
1 Mourning Dove
1 Common Ground-Dove
1 House Wren
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
8 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Common Ground-Dove
1 Carolina Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Hermit Thrush
6 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  16
# of Recaptures:  17
# of Species:  11
Effort:  126.5 net-hours
Capture Rate:  26.1 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Frosty morning; Ageing Catharus Thrushes

We banded 16 new birds and had 16 recaptures of 9 different species today.  Many of the nets were covered with frost after the below freezing temperatures overnight which made opening them a little difficult.  I had defrost parts of the net with warmth from my hands and breath to get them from sticking together.


Frosty covered Mist Net (net # 4)

Thrushes in the genus Catharus can be aged by looking for molt limits within the greater coverts.  Sometimes the molt limit is not that obvious as either none of the greater coverts have been replaced or maybe just the inner 1 or 2 closest to the body.  Unreplaced greater coverts will usually have distinct "tear-drop" shaped buffy tips such as the hatch-year Hermit Thrush on the right in the photo below.  As you can see, this bird did not replace any of the greater coverts during its first prebasic molt as all of the greater coverts have that buffy tear-drop pattern.  The Hermit Thrush on the left is an adult because it is lacking the tear drops on the tip of the greater coverts.  A few greater coverts do have buffy corners which can be misleading but these are not juvenile greater coverts.
  

Close-up showing the buffy tear-drop pattern on the tips of the greater coverts of hatch-year Hermit Thrush.  


NEW BIRDS
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Hermit Thrush
2 Gray Catbird
10 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Tufted Titmouse
5 Gray Catbird
4 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Mytle)
1 Prairie Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
3 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  16
# of Recaptures:  16
# of Species:  9
Effort:  131.1 net-hours
Capture Rate:  24.4 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
Matt Zak
William Oakley

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

11/19, Another Cold Morning

We had another late start this morning because it was only 28˚ F on Kiawah at sunrise. The weather finally warmed up to 40˚ F enabling us to open the nets around 10:00, and we were able to stay open until about 1:15. Despite the cold weather and the shortened day, we were able to process 26 birds today, 16 new and 10 recaptures from 10 different species. Highlights included our sixth Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and our fourth White-throated Sparrow of the season. 

NEW BIRDS
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
3 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Painted Bunting

RECAPTURES
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Hermit Thrush
3 Gray Catbird
1 Northern Mockingbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds: 16
# of Recaptures: 10
# of Species: 10
Effort: 74.75 net-hours
Capture Rate: 34.8 birds/100 net hours
# of Nets: 23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
Matt Zak

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014

There was another late start due to low temperatures and high winds. We processed a total of 5 new birds and 6 recaptures. Our most abundant species was again the Yellow-rumped Warbler. While we were open the winds were strong, but not enough so that we needed to close any nets early. 

NEW BIRDS
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

RECAPTURES
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Hermit Thrush
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow


BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  5
# of Recaptures:  6
# of Species:  5
Effort:  66.7 net-hours
Capture Rate:  16.5 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23 

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
Matt Zak

Monday, November 17, 2014

17 November 2014

NEW BIRDS
14 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Eastern Towhee

RECAPTURES
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Carolina Wren
1 Hermit Thrush
2 Gray Catbird
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  15
# of Recaptures:  9
# of Species:  7
Effort:  122.2 net-hours
Capture Rate:  19.6 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23 (several closed early due to wind)

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
Matt Zak

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ageing and Sexing Kinglets

It was a rain-shorten day with only 10 new birds and 12 recaptures of 5 different species.  With only a 30% chance of precipitation, rain wasn't even on my radar (no pun intended) until I felt a few rain drops around 8:30am.  I checked the radar and saw the large green blob heading right to us from the ocean.  We all got pretty wet running around the banding station checking the nets for birds as we shut everything down.  

I have been waiting for about a week now to catch a female Ruby-crowned Kinglet so that I could do a post about ageing and sexing kinglets.  Finally . . .  we got three of them today!  

Male and female Ruby-crowned Kinglets look identical except for a patch of feathers on the top of their heads.  Males are adorned with a bright red feathers while the females lack the red.  Sometimes older females can have one or two red feathers in their crown.



 


In Golden-crowned Kinglets both sexes have yellow in their crowns but the male is the only one with a large patch of orange in the center.


Ageing kinglets (both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned) can be challenging.  Molt limits in these species are very difficult to detect.  There are couple of criteria that can be helpful when trying to age them.  The first thing we look at is the shape of the outer rectrices (tail feathers).  Like many passerines, adults will have a broader and more truncate rectrices compared to the narrower and tapered look of the juveniles.  As in the case with kinglets, the outer rectrices of adults are broader and have a club-like shape to them.  Juveniles (or hatch-years) will have more narrow and tapered looking outer rectrices.   





Another characteristic that we can look at is the primary coverts.  In adults, the primary coverts will be broader with relatively wide and distinct greenish edging.  In juveniles, the primary coverts will be more narrow with little or indistinct greenish edging,  Caution should be used when using the shape the primary coverts for ageing birds and should always be used in conjunction with other criteria.  




NEW BIRDS
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
7 Gray Catbird
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  10
# of Recaptures:  12
# of Species:  5
Effort:  62.1 net-hours
Capture Rate:  35.4 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Matt Zak
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 15, 2014

Due to the very cold temperatures this morning, we did not open the nets until after 9am. Today was a slow day with only six new birds and fifteen recaptures. We hope that the low numbers are due to the low temperature and winds that we experienced today and that we will continue to have more productive days for the rest of the month.

NEW BIRDS
2 Gray Catbird
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
7 Gray Catbird
1 Brown Thrasher
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
3 Swamp Sparrow

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  6
# of Recaptures:  15
# of Species:  10
Effort:  69.0 net-hours
Capture Rate:  30.4 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
William Oakley
Matt Zak

Friday, November 14, 2014

November 14, 2014: Mourning Dove

This morning we caught 48 birds: 26 new and 22 recaps representing 9 different species. One of our more interesting catches was a Mourning Dove, only our second this year. Mourning Doves are common in Kiawah but we rarely catch them because they are large enough that they usually bounce right out of our nets. Another bird of note was a late in season American Redstart. These are one of our earlier migrants, and we haven't caught one in a few weeks. 
video
Here is a slow-motion release of the Mourning Dove


NEW BIRDS
1 Mourning Dove
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 American Redstart
22 Yellow-rumped Warblers

RECAPTURES
1 Common Ground Dove
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
8 Gray Catbird
7 Yellow-rumped Warblers
3 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds: 26
# of Recaptures: 22
# of Species: 9
Effort: 126.5 net-hours
Capture Rate: 37.94 birds/100 net-hours

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola
Matt Zak

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Skulling 101

It was another good day at the banding station with 77 new birds and 17 recaptures made up of 8 different species.  Similar to yesterday, Yellow-rumped Warblers continued flying over in loosely formed flocks.  Occasionally a small flock would drop down to feed on the wax myrtle berries next to net 9 and this is where we got most of our 66 Yellow-rumps.  Since we are in the midst of Yellow-rump season I decided to bring back a post on determining age and sex of Yellow-rumped Warblers, you can check out the post written by Aaron back in 2012 by clicking here.  In that post, Aaron goes over the plumage characteristics that we examine in order to determine age and sex.  Sometimes we come across birds with conflicting plumage characteristics and we use skulling to determine age. 

When birds are first hatched they only have one layer of bone making up their skull.  Over the first couple of months to a year of a bird’s life a second layer of bone will grow below the first layer.  The second layer of bone usually follows one of two patterns which can be seen in the photo below.  Areas that only have the first layer of bone will appear pinkish.  The areas with two layers will appear more whitish and will also have tiny white spots.  The tiny white spots are columns between the two layers of skull.  When we skull we squirt a little water to the back of the birds head and part the feathers to create a window.  Bird’s skin for the most part is transparent which allows us to see through to the skull.  We move the window around to look for contrast between areas with two layer of bone versus the areas with only one layer.  If we find contrast this means the skull is unossified and the bird is a hatch year.  Fully ossified skulls will lack any contrast and will appear completely whitish with tiny whiter spots.  A bird with a fully ossified skull is not necessarily an adult.  Certain species can have their skull become fully ossified by October and November.  It’s always a good idea to combine multiple characteristics when determining the age of birds.  
     
The patterns of skull ossification
  

NEW BIRDS
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Hermit Thrush
3 Gray catbird
66 Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Song Sparrow

RECAPTURES
3 Hermit Thrush
6 Gray Catbird
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  77
# of Recaptures:  17
# of Species:  8
Effort:  140.3 net-hours
Capture Rate:  67.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Libby Natola
Matt Zak
Mattie VandenBoom

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FOS: American Robin

Today we banded a total of 94 birds, 81 new birds and 13 recaptures. The majority of our birds were Yellow-rumped warblers with 69 of them banded. Several waves of Yellow-rumped Warblers (300-500 in a loosely formed flock) were seen flying over the banding station early in the morning. They appeared to have come from the main part of Kiawah and were traveling west towards Seabrook Island.  It was quite frustrating to watch 3000-5000 Yellow-rumps completely over fly the banding station.  

We also banded our first American Robin of the year. The American Robin is the largest thrush species found in North America. During the spring and summer, they feed mainly on the ground searching for terrestrial invertebrates, and switch to berries and fruits during the fall and winter.  They have even been observed using a twig as a tool to sweep away leaves while foraging.

American Robin (after hatch year, male)
The black head and bright orange breast is indicative of an adult male.

NEW BIRDS
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
2 Hermit Thrush
69 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee
2 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Painted Bunting

RECAPTURES
5 Gray Catbird
4 Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Song Sparrow
2 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  81
# of Recaptures:  13
# of Species:  10
Effort:  129.2 net-hours
Capture Rate:  72.8 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23 (1 net was opened late because it was replaced)

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Libby Natola
Matt Zak

Mattie VandenBoom

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11 November 2014

Well it appears we have entered the late season doldrums with only 28 new birds and 16 recaptures of 12 different species.  Fortunately, we captured a Sharp-shinned Hawk and 2 Common Ground-Doves to spice things up a bit.  I'm hoping that the polar vortex that is racing across the northern United States will push some birds south.  

NEW BIRDS
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Common Ground-Dove
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Gray Catbirds
21 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Common Ground-Dove
1 Carolina Chickadee
2 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
2 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  28
# of Recaptures:  16
# of Species:  12
Effort:  124.1 net-hours
Capture Rate:  35.5 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23 (3 nets closed early due to wind)

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Libby Natola
Matt Zak
Mattie VandenBoom

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014 Towhee's Ticks

This morning we caught 35 birds from 6 species, 26 of which were new and 9 that were recaptures. As these are wild animals, we sometimes catch birds with a variety of maladies, such as pox, deformities, and recently, a Gray Catbird with a twig embedded in its abdomen. This morning we caught a female Eastern Towhee that had two enormous, engorged ticks on her head. We released her in good condition after relieving her of the two hitchhikers. 

Yikes! Two large ticks on the scalp of an Eastern Towhee


NEW BIRDS
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
21 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Eastern Towhee

RECAPTURES
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 House Wren
5 Gray Catbird
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds: 26
# of Recaptures: 9 
# of Species: 6
Effort: 134.55 net-hours
Capture Rate: 26.01 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets: 23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
William Oakely
Matt Zak
Libby Natola

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Flight of Swallows


Today was full of surprises at the banding station.  We started the morning off a little later than expected due to a storm system slowly scooting its way up the coast.  I think we were all a little surprised to wake up to the sound of rain.  The banding started off a little slow today but that all changed after one net run. 

For the past several weeks, we have been treated to the sight of thousands of Tree Swallows streaming by overhead. We have noticed that on colder or windier days, the swallows will often form a swarm and land in the vegetation.  Tree Swallows, unlike other swallows, are able to digest wax myrtle berries and when insects are not readily available, they come down from the skies to feast. This adaptation is what allows Tree Swallows to winter further north than any other species of swallow in North America.  Today the swallows happened to land in vegetation near one of our nets and we finally got a flock of Tree Swallows!  Will and Aaron happened to be going on a net run and noticed the swarm of swallows and was able to get a video of them landing near the net.  

video
 Video by William Oakley

We ended up catching 28 Tree Swallows in just that one net.  Our final tally was 40 new birds and 11 recaptures made up of 11 species.
                                                           

Tree Swallow (After hatch-year, sex unknown)


Tree Swallow (Hatch-year, sex unknown)




NEW BIRDS
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
28 Tree Swallow
2 Gray Catbird
2 Common Yellowthroat
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Carolina Chickadee
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Gray Catbird
3 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  40
# of Recaptures:  10
# of Species:  11
Effort:  70.2 net-hours
Capture Rate:  63.9 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Matt Zak
Libby Natola
William Oakley


Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 8th 2014

Today we banded 76 new bird, 11 recaptures and a total of 15 species. The majority of our birds were again Yellow-rumped Warblers, but we did catch 12 new Hermit Thrush. We also attempted to do some banding in the marsh between net rounds when the tides were high. We were able to catch one Swamp Sparrow and a Savannah Sparrow while managing to also fill our boots up with water. The fun birds for today would have to be the recapture of the brown creeper which is a favorite for Will and the new Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. 

NEW BIRDS
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Eastern Pheobe
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
7 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
12 Hermit Thrush
6 Gray Catbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
38 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
2 Song Sparrow
6 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Brown Creeper
1 House Wren
1 Hermit Thrush
4 Gray Catbird
2 Northern Mockingbird
2 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of Birds Banded:  76
# of Recaptures:  11
# of Species:  15
Effort:  138.00 net-hours
Capture Rate:  63.0 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Matt Zak
Libby Natola
William Oakley

Friday, November 7, 2014

FOS: Chipping Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow

Today we banded 40 new birds and had 16 recaptures of 17 different species.  For the most part, it was quite an uneventful day until the 11:10 am net-round.  Not really sure what happened then but a Brown Creeper, Chipping Sparrow, and a Grasshopper Sparrow was brought back to the banding table.  This was our 2nd Brown Creeper of the season (and the 3rd ever for KIBS)!  The Chipping Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow were first-of-the-seasons, and this was only the 2nd Grasshopper Sparrow ever banded at KIBS.

We also had an interesting recapture of a Common Yellowthroat.  This bird was originally banded on 11/13/12.  It was recaptured later that year on 12/20/12 which probably means that this is an overwintering bird.  It was then recaptured again the next fall on 10/12/13 and 11/10/13.  The neat thing about this recapture is that of the 3381 Common Yellowthroats that we have banded prior to this season, this is the only individual to return to KIBS.  And it did it twice!

Chipping Sparrow (hatch-year, sex unknown)

Grasshopper Sparrow (hatch-year, sex unknown)
  

NEW BIRDS
2 Eastern Phoebe
1 Brown Creeper
1 House Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 Hermit Thrush
5 Gray Catbird
1 Palm Warbler (Western)
20 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Grasshopper Sparrow
3 Song Sparrow

RECAPTURES
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
5 Gray Catbird
2 Northern Mockingbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
1 Prairie Warbler
3 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds:  40
# of Recaptures:  16
# of Species:  17
Effort:  154.1 net-hours
Capture Rate:  36.3 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets:  23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
William Oakley
Matt Zak
Julie Hovis


Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 6, the Male Yellow-Rumped Warblers Arrive

We had another slower morning, capturing 52 birds, 36 new and 16 recaptures of 11 different species. One interesting capture was a Prairie Warbler, a bird we haven't seen much of since early October. We also noted a change in our Yellow-rumped Warbler demographics. While until recently, we have been catching mostly females, today we caught 10 males (34%), a higher proportion than we have seen thus far this season. Yellow-rumps have an interesting migration pattern, in that the males and females may migrate separately, with the females beginning their migration earlier in the fall than the males. The arrival of males today may signify that they are also moving south now, and we may expect an increase in our Yellow-rumped Warbler numbers in the near future. 


NEW BIRDS
1 Eastern Phoebe
29 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Prairie Warbler
4 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow

RECAPTURES
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Carolina Wren
1 Hermit Thrush
6 Gray Catbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal

BANDING STATS
# of New Birds: 36
# of Recaptures: 16
# of Species: 11
Effort: 138 net-hours
Capture Rate: 37.68 birds/100 net-hours
# of Nets: 23

BANDING STAFF
Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Libby Natola