Fall 2013 Landbird Banding Season: Rarities and Above Average Numbers

During the most recent banding season, the Manomet Center’s team caught two birds that had not been captured at the site during the fall since the 1990s: a Yellow-throated Vireo and a Cape May Warbler.

 

The last Yellow-throated Vireo had been caught at the banding lab in August of 1997 and the last Cape May Warbler in September of 1995.

 

“The Yellow-throated Vireo is a southern bird which is increasing in western Massachusetts in leaps and bounds, so it’s surprising that we don’t catch more at Manomet,” said Banding Director Trevor Lloyd-Evans. “They are fairly rare in the eastern part of the state but are becoming more common as they expand their range northward with climate change.” 

 

Manomet’s fall 2013 landbird banding season saw above average numbers of new birds banded and overall species handled.

 

During the fall season, which lasted from August 15th –November 15th, 2,118 new birds were banded, 1,428 were recaptured and a total of 79 species were handled.

 

“For 20 species, including several Neotropical migrants (editor’s note: see list below), we caught equal or greater numbers than the highest number for each of those species in the previous 10 fall seasons,” Lloyd-Evans said. “For the first time, none of the species we banded had the lowest numbers when compared with the previous 10 falls.”  

 

The Cape May Warbler breeds in the boreal forests of Canada and the northern United States, where its population is heavily dependent on the availability of spruce budworms. One bird of each of the three spruce budworm warbler species – the Cape May Warbler, Tennessee Warbler and Bay-breasted Warbler – was caught last fall.

 

“We have not caught all of these three species in a single season since the last spruce budworm outbreak in the late 1970s, when we caught hundreds of each,” Lloyd-Evans said. “However, this does not presage a huge spruce budworm outbreak, as one warbler does not an outbreak make.”

 

Other highlights included an intergrade (hybrid) Flicker and a Golden-Winged Warbler. Only one other intergrade Flicker was caught in the past decade of fall banding seasons at Manomet in 2006. Golden-winged Warblers often hybridize with the closely related Blue-winged Warbler, which has been expanding its range, and this hybridization has contributed to sharp declines in Golden-winged Warbler numbers.

 

 

“Golden-winged Warblers have experienced very steep population declines in recent decades,” Lloyd-Evans said. “This species is so rare in Massachusetts that the Mass Audubon Breeding Bird Atlas discovered zero breeding pairs in the state in a five-year study.”

 

Over 600 people visited the banding lab during the fall season to learn about birds, their migrations and how their populations are being impacted by climate change. Visiting groups included elementary through college students and members of local groups and photography clubs.

 

The following video, taken when students from the Noble and Greenough School visited the Manomet banding lab in November, provides a quick look at the landbird banding and education program. (Video courtesy of Melissa McClung of the Noble and Greenough School.)

 

 

Click here to learn more about our landbird banding and education program.

 

- Haley Jordan

 


Full list of species for which fall 2013 numbers were equal to or higher than any fall in the past 10 years (2003-2012):

 

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Intergrade Flicker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Yellow-throated Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-winged Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Myrtle Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler

Ovenbird

Mourning Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Canada Warbler