Friday, September 25, 2015

FOS: Blackpoll Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Captain Sam's
Strong storms last night and wind out of the south started us at Captain Sam's not expecting much in the way of migrants, but we had quite an exciting morning. Although numbers remained fairly low, with 38 new birds and a surprising 19 recaptures, of a total of 14 species, we had a new House Wren, our biggest Gray Catbird day with 7 new individuals, and, most exciting of all: 3 Blackpoll Warblers!

These large warblers have one of the most extraordinary fall migrations, not only crossing an incredible distance averaging 2,500 km, but marathoning it over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from the northeastern United States to northern South America! This is one of the longest distance nonstop overwater flights ever recorded for a migratory songbird. Wind and weather permitting, that is a potential nonstop 72-88 hour odyssey, for an animal that can fit in the palm of your hand!

But for species like the Blackpoll that migrate overwater, wind and weather is our only chance to catch them, here in the Southeast; because of this, we catch an average of only 1-3 per season. Luckily, the intense storms last night brought them right in to our banding site! These beautiful warblers still have a long way to go before they reach their wintering grounds, though. Good luck, ladies!


Our first Blackpoll Warbler of the season (AHY, female) 
Our third Blackpoll Warbler (AHY, female)
Photos by Casey Weissburg
Little Bear 
It was a surprisingly good morning at Little Bear with 53 new birds and 8 recaptures, comprised of 19 species.  The overnight radar did not look too promising, with strong storms stretching from Georgia to Virginia.  Our good day was likely a result of birds that came in yesterday or the day before that were forced to stay due to the storms. 

We were very excited to have not one but two first of the season today.  We had our first Blackpoll Warbler.  This individual may have been attempting its incredible transoceanic migration but was pushed inland because of the storms.  We also had our first Yellow-billed Cuckoo of the season.  Cuckoos are very secretive birds and are more often heard than seen so it is always exciting when one is captured during banding.   

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (hatch-year)

  Species Captain Sam's Little Bear
New Recaps New Recaps
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - - 1 -
White-eyed Vireo 1 2 1 -
Red-eyed Vireo 3 2 5 -
Carolina Chickadee -- - 2
House Wren1 1 1 -
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 - - -
Veery - - 1 -
Gray Catbird 7 2 6 -
Worm-eating Warbler 1 - - -
Ovenbird - - 1 1
Northern Waterthrush - - 1 -
Black-and-white Warbler - 1 - 1
Common Yellowthroat 17 4 24 3
American Redstart 3 2 3 -
Yellow Warbler - - 2 -
Blackpoll Warbler 3 - 1 -
Black-throated Blue Warbler - - 1 -
Palm Warbler (Western) - - 1 -
Prairie Warbler - 1 2 -
Northern Cardinal - 1 1 -
Painted Bunting - 3 1 1
House Finch 1 - - -

 Banding Stats Captain Sam's Little Bear TOTAL
# Birds Banded 38 53 91
# of Recaptures 19 8 27
# of Species 14 19 22
Effort (net-hours) 140.0 50.0 190.0
Capture Rate (birds/100 net-hours) 40.7 122.0 62.1
Nets 25 10 35

Banding Staff
Aaron Given (CS)
Mattie VandenBoom (LB)
Chris Snook (LB)
Nancy Raginski (CS)
Sean McElaney (CS)
Casey Weissburg (CS)
Michael Gamble (LB)

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