Monday, January 26, 2015

Marsh Sparrow Banding January 19-23

The weather cooperated for 4 out of the 5 days this banding period.  Due to lack of personnel on a couple of days, I was only able to cover 2 sites over the four days of banding.  This wasn't necessarily a bad thing as I was able to thoroughly cover both sites capturing 69 new birds and 36 recaptures of 8 different species.  

January 19
Will Oakley and I covered the "Moon Tide Mansion" site.  Until recently, this site was considered part of the "Moon Tide 1" site but due to its distance from the main part of "Moon Tide 1", I decided to make it its own site.  This site consists of two very small high tide roosts "islands" that are mainly made up of Black Needlerush (Juncus roemerianus) and Sea Ox-eye Daisy (Borrichia frutescens).  To cover this site we flush the birds from the smallest island over to the larger island.  The mist nets are arranged in a "U" pattern at the eastern end of the larger island.  The high tide that morning was at 6:45 am so we were working on the falling end of the tide and did not have that much time before the water levels dropped enough for the birds to disperse from their roost.  We attempted two flushes at 8:00am and only managed to capture 10 Seaside Sparrows and 2 Clapper Rails.  Of the 10 Seaside Sparrows, 7 of them were already banded from previous years.

Hatch year Seaside Sparrow can have an eccentric molt in which some of the outer primaries (and corresponding primary coverts) are replaced during the first prebasic molt.  In the photo below, notice that the replaced outer two primary coverts are darker and have a greenish-yellow edging to them compared to the unreplaced pale brown inner primary coverts.  

Molt limit in Seaside Sparrow

January 20   
The following day, Matt Arnold and Julianna Smith joined me to cover the "Moon Tide 1" site.  This site consists of several small to large "islands" of high marsh and high ground that parallels the mainland of Kiawah along Moon Tide Lane.  Eight nets were placed in strategic locations either between islands or at the end of an islands.  The birds are then "herded" in the direction of the nets and then flushed into the nets.  I would normally do this site with more than three people but due to its size but we pretty well capturing 17 Seaside Sparrows, 1 Saltmarsh Sparrow, 3 Marsh Wrens, 1 Common Yellowthroat, and 1 Clapper Rail.  Of the 17 Seaside Sparrows, only 6 were recaptures from previous years.

Moon Tide 1 

January 21
On Wednesday, a group of Naturalists from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Nature Program (Matt Arnold, Julianna Smith, Brogin Van Skoik, Kristen Lococo, and Jake Zadik) help me tackle the "Eagle Point" and the "Eagle Point Honey Hole" site.  The Eagle Point site is very large and had to broken up into two separate days.  On this day we did a small roost site (0.035 acres) that I have dubbed the "Eagle Point Honey Hole" due the incredible amount of birds that take roost here during high tide, and the eastern part of the Eagle Point site.  The honey hole did not disappoint as we captured 20 Seaside Sparrows, 5 Saltmarsh Sparrows, 11 Neslon's Sparrows, and 1 Marsh Wren.  In the eastern half Eagle Point we captured 7 Slatmarsh Sparrows, 4 Nelson's Sparrows, and 1 Palm Warbler.  A total of 49 birds were captured for a very successful day of marsh sparrow banding.

Both of the photos below are of Nelson's Sparrows even though they look quite differently.  The individual on top is much brighter in color than the one on the bottom.  These represent the two of the three subspecies of Nelson's Sparrows.  The bird on top is of the subspecies nelsonii which breeds breeds across the interior of Canada and North-central United States.  The bird on the bottom is of the subspecies subvirgatus which breeds along the North Atlantic coast.  The third subspecies, alterus, breeds along the southern portion of Hudson Bay in Canada, and is intermediate in color between the two birds shown here.  

Nelson's Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni nelsoni)

Nelson's Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus)

January 22
On Thursday, Jason Ayers and Justin Johnson helped me with the western half of Eagle Point.  This part of the Eagle Point site is kind of unique because it is mostly made of a couple of large irregularly shaped patches of black needlerush.  It can be difficult to trap with only 3 people so net placement was critical.  We captured a total of 24 birds (4 Seaside Sparrows, 10 Saltmarsh Sparrows, 9 Nelson's Sparrows, and 1 House Wren).

Eagle Point (the "honey-hole" is not outlined but can be see in the upper right hand corner)

January 23
The threat of rain and high winds forced me cancel on Friday.

TOTALS FOR THE WEEK (number in parentheses indicate the # of recaptures)
Seaside Sparrow 28 (23)
Saltmarsh Sparrow 15 (8)
Nelson's Sparrow 19 (5)
Clapper Rail 3
Marsh Wren 1
House Wren 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Palm Warbler 1