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 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)

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

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

# 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

Aaron Given
Mattie VandenBoom
Matt Zak
Libby Natola
William Oakley