Final day of Fall banding

Last bird! take a guess as to what it is (photo by Miriam Avello)

(Nov 7) Since 2020 insists on continuing to be weird we are ending the season under a tropical storm warning. We were expecting to be taking the nets down in the pouring rain but it held off all morning, allowing us to band until we were ready to stop. The wind was up and the skies were overcast, layered and complex like they get when something tropical is coming. I heard a thrush call while I opened nets in the dark, and when I came back by the first net I had opened, she was captured already. A very small Catharus; she measured out as a pure Bicknell’s and was our second of the season, breaking records for yet another species that is usually migrating out over the open Atlantic.

Bicknell’s Thrush (photo by Mario Porcelli)
SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Gray catbird5
Bicknell’s thrush1
Common yellowthroat1
Black-throated blue warbler1
Painted bunting3
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL10523102.512.1210.73
SEASON TOTAL2313542310226.8026.42
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Penultimate day

And this is why we close when we do, since migration becomes a trickle again in November. The species lineup is still mostly long-distance migrants, although a lot of individuals of these species do spend the winter in the local area. Some nice portraits of our regulars to end the day on:

L: HY M Black-throated blue warbler; R top: Gray catbird, R bottom: Northern parula (photos by Marc Kramer)

We’re hoping the torrential rain that is forecast to start this weekend holds off long enough so we can enjoy our final day. Right now the air feels slightly drier and pleasant, but the moist tropical air is never too far away at our latitude and remnants of Eta are percolating to our south, possibly heading our way. We have had a lot of rain this fall, making it hard to run Net 20 which right now looks like it could be in the middle of the Everglades.

This is not Shark Valley; this is Key Biscayne (photo by Mario Porcelli)
SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Gray catbird5
Northern parula1
American redstart2
Black-throated blue warbler12
Painted bunting12
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL8522115.512.12
SEASON TOTAL2303542310124.3026.58
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Recap party

Today turned out to be a majority recapture day, with 9 recaps of 9 species comparing to only 6 new birds of 4 species. The birds are once again waiting for a weather window for a good passage to the Antilles and Central America. Perhaps they even sense the low pressure in the Caribbean, and know not to leave right now.

Adult female Black-throated blue warbler (photo by Miriam Avello)
SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Swainson’s thrush1
Blue-gray gnatcatcher1
Gray catbird41
American redstart1
Black-throated blue warbler11
Black & white warbler1
Myrtle warbler1
Swinson’s warbler1
Wilson’s warbler1
Painted bunting1
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL6422126.511.89
SEASON TOTAL2295542310008.8026.75
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Yellow-bellied sapsucker

The theme of slow and windy yet diverse days continues as we pick up a few extra species right at the end. This young female Yellow-bellied sapsucker is the first one we have banded since 2013. Before then we used to catch them about every other year. This is a highly migratory woodpecker, unlike most other species that are residents year round. They are responsible for the neat rows of holes you can sometimes see in the trunks of trees and palms.

Photos by Miriam Avello

Northern parula (photo by Miriam Avello)
SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Yellow-bellied sapsucker1
White-eyed vireo1
Gray catbird2
Northern parula1
Black-throated blue warbler1
Black & white warbler1
Myrtle warbler1
Western palm warbler1
Common yellowthroat1
Indigo bunting1
Painted bunting22
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL1082294.515.87
SEASON TOTAL228954239882.326.93
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Wilson’s warbler

The strong east winds continue and they will be with us for the last 4 days we are open, with rain chances picking up by the weekend. This will likely keep us from having any more busy days, but we can always go for quality. And today delivered as the 19 new birds banded were of 11 species, including a Wilson’s warbler! This species is an extremely abundant migrant across the West but is rare in Florida. We have only banded 6 in the past 18 years. And it is too bad that the genus Wilsonia is no longer a thing, because otherwise we would’ve gotten a hat trick with Hooded, Canada and Wilson’s warblers this year. Here is a photo gallery of some of today’s beauties.

Left: Wilson’s warbler (Brian Cammarano); Middle top: Black & white warbler, Bottom: Painted bunting; Right: White-eyed vireo (all Steffanie Munguia)

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
White-eyed vireo11
Gray catbird4
Swainson’s thrush2
Blue-gray gnatcatcher1
Black-throated blue warbler31
Black & white warbler1
American redstart21
Myrtle warbler1
Western palm warbler1
Northern waterthrush1
Wilson’s warbler1
Painted bunting2
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL19112212817.19
SEASON TOTAL227953239787.827.04
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FOS Tennessee and Myrtle warblers

It is getting really windy due to a strong gradient between high pressure in the Atlantic and low pressure in the Caribbean that also includes Hurricane Eta who is about to cause major problems for Nicaragua and Honduras. Our nets are protected by the trees so we were able to band today, although if it gets much windier we will have to close. Land areas are currently under a high wind warning while the ocean is under a gale warning. Today featured a little more than half of the numbers as yesterday but the species lineup was quite nice, including two first-of-the-seasons: Tennessee warbler and Myrtle warbler. The 2260 birds captured so far puts 2020 in third place for overall numbers: second place 2015 with 2324 captures is in reach but there is almost no way we will beat 2006’s 2561 captures.

Left: Tennessee warbler Right: Myrtle warbler (photos by Brian Cammarano)

Most banding stations along the Atlantic coast are swarmed with Myrtle warblers, AKA ‘butterbutts’, in fall migration. They are also abundant in South Florida, but they take so long to trickle down here that we often don’t catch any before closing.

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Chuck-will’s widow1
Gray catbird8
Northern parula1
Tennessee  warbler1
Black-throated blue warbler3
Black & white warbler2
American redstart1
Myrtle warbler1
Swainson’s warbler1
Ovenbird3
Common yellowthroat1
Painted bunting4
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL241122124.7521.64
SEASON TOTAL226052239659.827.17
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Final week of the season

This morning we at least heard and saw warblers dropping in right after sunrise, especially Northern parulas, Cape Mays, and a couple of first-of-season Myrtle warblers. The nets, however, seemed to only attract Gray catbirds and Black-throated blue warblers until the 1000 run, which contained all of the diversity for the day. Nearly all of the captures today were very fat, so they seem to be enjoying a good migration.

Cape May warbler # 55 and Blackpoll warbler # 11 (all photos by Miriam Avello)

These two females are perfect examples of confusing fall warblers: whitish-yellowish streaky underneath, greenish on top, wing bars, tail spots, stripe through the eye. They actually are more different structurally than plumage-wise this time of year. The Cape May warbler on the left is a smaller bird with an overall stockier build and a slightly downcurved bill. The yellow rump patch can be diagnostic, but a third species (Myrtle warbler) pretty much looks the same as these two, has a much more obvious yellow rump, and is extremely abundant by December. The Blackpoll warbler on the right is a long-distance migrant, with some individuals traveling between Alaska and South America. They are large (by warbler standards) and have very long wing tips. Blackpoll legs and feet are at least slightly orange, while the other similar plumaged warblers all have black or grey legs.

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Gray catbird13
Cape May warbler1
Black-throated blue warbler181
Blackpoll warbler1
Swainson’s warbler1
Ovenbird2
Common yellowthroat2
Indigo bunting1
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL39823130.2530.71
SEASON TOTAL223650239535.0527.25
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Happy Halloween!

photo by Miriam Avello

No we’re not fooling. We really did catch this Northern yellow bat today: never mind new species for the station, this is a whole new Class (Mammalia)! Although we were very surprised to find him in the net first thing in the morning, he was untangled and immediately released.

photo by Cynthia Porcelli

The Front Pt. 1 passed last night, and migration was strong across the entire Southeast according to the radar. Needless to say we were disappointed that this didn’t translate into birds on the ground, and also it wasn’t especially cool. In fact the woods were even more quiet than before as most of the recaptures have finally moved on. We did hear a Yellow-bellied sapsucker near the tent, but that is it so far for winter species. But, we caught a bat! On Halloween!!

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Great-crested flycatcher1
Gray catbird9
Northern parula1
Black-throated blue warbler111
Black & white warbler1
Ovenbird4
Common yellowthroat4
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL30623130.7524.47
SEASON TOTAL219750239404.827.20
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Yesterday’s report today

Photo by Steffanie Munguia

This Indigo bunting was the most photogenic capture in a day that featured more diversity with the recaptures. The front is passing today, but the net runs slowed down after a couple of decent rounds first thing in the morning. We have to be careful around the Net 7 beehive that has been steadily growing since the swarm moved in back during September.

photo by Mario Porcelli
SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Chuck-will’s widow1
Swainson’s thrush1
Gray catbird8
American redstart1
Black-throated blue warbler4
Black & white warbler1
Swainson’s warbler1
Common yellowthroat1
Indigo bunting1
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL1552280.523.60
SEASON TOTAL216750239274.0527.24
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Third Connecticut warbler!

(Oct 29) The bird of the day was definitely this female Connecticut warbler, our third for the season. We have only banded 6 other Connecticuts during the fall between 2002 and 2019, so to catch three in one year is quite notable and is probably an indicator of large-scale weather patterns shifting the offshore Atlantic migrants in to the coast. This could also explain the 10 Blackpolls we have also banded in 2020, and the fact that our species diversity is lower in spite of a respectable overall count of birds. Fewer species leave the Northeast and do the long flight straight through to the Antilles/South America, while far more species migrate west of us and cross the Gulf on their way to Central America.

two views of today’s Connecticut warbler (photos by Brian Cammarano)

Two more days until a cold(ish) front! It is still on schedule to pass Friday sometime.

SPECIESNEWRETURNRECAP
Gray catbird3
American redstart22
Black-throated blue warbler3
Black & white warbler1
Ovenbird1
Connecticut warbler1
Common yellowthroat11
Painted bunting51
 # BIRDS CAPTURED# SPECIES# NETSNET HOURSCAPTURE RATE (BIRDS/100NH)
DAILY TOTAL16722125.516.73
SEASON TOTAL215250239193.5527.27
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