Banding Beginnings Look Hopeful for Birds That Braved the Winter

Despite a harsh and lingering winter, Manomet’s spring banding season started strong last week as our lab handled over 100 birds during the first two days.

 

“We start on April 15 every year to maintain consistency in our data,” said Banding Director Trevor Lloyd-Evans. “This year, our timing seems to be perfect as many birds were held up by the cold weather, but started to come through just as we put up our nets.”

 

A couple weeks before the spring banding season began, Lloyd-Evans sat down with Heather Goldstone from WGBH to talk about how the harsh winter could have impacted birds. He hypothesized that birds who wintered in the Northeast, especially those small birds like Carolina Wren or Golden-crowned Kinglet that feed on insects, were probably adversely affected by the harsh winter.

 

His hypothesis was supported by a dead Carolina Wren found when the snow started to melt at Manomet. However, the first two days of banding has given us some optimistic data. For starters, we have already captured one first-year male Carolina Wren (pictured below). Since it was previously un-banded, we can reasonably assume that it moved into the new territory after the winter subsided.

 

 

There is also evidence that resident birds have survived the winter at Manomet. We have already recaptured a Slate-colored Junco that was banded as a first-year last fall. Juncos are small, yet clearly very resilient, and rarely weigh more than 25g.  

 

 

 

“As the lab sees and handles more birds, we will be looking forward to seeing how many of our permanent residents made it through the winter and what new birds have joined us,” said Lloyd-Evans. “We are also curious to see if spring migrants from the Southern U.S. and Central America will be delayed by the cold winter and lack of food.  In years past we have observed that arrival times have been significantly earlier, presumably as a reaction to climate change.”  

 

(All bird photos taken by Grace Alloy-Relihan)

Meet the Banders:

 

This season’s banding staff consists of veterans Grace Alloy-Relihan and Mattie VandenBoom, along with our newest Banding Intern Sophie Zyla. 

 

Grace and Mattie have banded together at Manomet for the last three spring seasons and both bring a wealth of knowledge to the lab.  

 

Prior to becoming a Manomet bander, Grace was an intern at the Raptor Trust in Millington, New Jersey, where she helped care for orphaned, sick and injured birds. For the past four years, she has co-taught an ornithology class at Wheaton College. Grace also manages Manomet's Twitter account and posts photos of the exciting birds she sees throughout the day.

 

 

Mattie started banding birds at age 12 and has since spent many fall and spring migrations working as a bird bander at the Auburn Bird Banding Research Station in Auburn, Massachusetts. Last fall, she worked as a bird banding assistant at the Kiawah Island Bird Banding Station in South Carolina.  

 

 

 

Although she may be new to Manomet, Sophie brings a wealth of experience and passion to the lab. Sophie left the corporate world behind several years ago and has been following her love of wildlife photography and education ever since. She received her M.S. in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College in 2013. Recently, she volunteered at Great Gull Island and currently sits on the Board of Directors at Audubon Connecticut and Naugatuck Valley Audubon Society.