September welcomed us with sustained north winds as a cold-front passed through, and we saw a moderate spike in our capture rate today with 68 birds processed. The last few days of August were characterized by southwest winds which tend to suppress fall migration, so it was little surprise that we noticed more bird activity while opening nets this morning than we have in a number of days.
The third most common bird banded here at Petit Manan Point in the last two weeks has been the American Redstart (Common Yellowthroat & Traill’s Flycatcher being the first and second, respectively), another of the wood warblers found throughout the U.S. and Canada. We caught a good number early on (70), and then noticed a drop in numbers over the past week until today when we caught 10 more – it appears as though this pulse of redstarts came in on the winds last night as none of them had previously been banded. Adult males are a striking black and orange, but they do not attain this plumage until they are about a year old. Pictured below are an adult male and first-year male.
Black-and-White Warblers are another striking warbler that breed throughout the boreal regions of Canada and much of the eastern United States. These warblers are somewhat unusual in that while foraging they often creep along tree trunks in a fashion similar to nuthatches.
Most of the birds we have banded thus far (of all species) have been hatch-year birds, and as noted in our previous blog post, the only way we can (usually) determine a birds age is by having a close look at it in the hand. For example, below are two Red-eyed Vireo, an ubiquitous species found throughout eastern forests and urban areas. Can you tell which is the young bird and which is the adult? While it may be possible to do this in the field, it is certainly made easier by capturing the individual and taking as much information from it as we can. In this case the adult is – you guessed it – the red-eyed Red-eyed Vireo! As a young bird ages its eye will change from the brown you see in the top photo to the red of the adult below it.
The last week of August was notable for the influx of Monarch Butterfly around the banding station. It seems that the southwest winds also held them up, and we were lucky enough to have ample photo opportunities!
To date we have banded 667 individual birds of nearly 25 different species. Here Crew Supervisor Lauren (aka Lola) is banding a Gray Catbird.
Finally, we had noted a number of Sharp-shinned Hawks cruising around the refuge, and we were able to band this hatch-year female on August 27 as she landed in one of our nets. Most female raptors are larger than their male counterparts, and this bird was identified as a female by her long wing which exceeded the length of that found in males.