Spring Banding Finishes Strong, Hummingbirds Show Conflicting Trends

The 2016 spring banding season finished on Wednesday, June 15 with an impressive 1,362 new birds banded—surpassing the ten-year average of 1,206 new bandings. All in all, the Banding Lab saw an average amount of birds throughout the course of the season, but experienced a huge surge of migrant warblers on May 17 when our banders handled 249 birds in one day!

 

 

 

 

 

That morning, we were lucky enough to take a group of supporters on a birding trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery, where we also witnessed an impressive array of migrating birds. We got the timing right this year!

 

Thanks to that surge, the Lab saw a ten-year high for the number of Worm-eating Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, American Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, Pine Warblers, and Wilson’s Warblers this season. Over the course of nine weeks, the Lab handled 78 species, which is higher than nine of the last ten springs. In addition to the European Goldfinch we caught earlier this season, the Lab handled two Purple Finches, which was rare, the first for at least ten years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In total, the Lab handled 2,072 birds this season with 710 repeat captures—104 of which were banded in previous seasons. Some of the oldest birds were a ten-year-old female Northern Cardinal, a nine-year old Common Yellowthroat (affectionately known as Nubby Toes because he is missing two toes) and a seven-year-old Brown Thrasher.

 

Many concerned citizens and some staff members told us that their hummingbirds have been conspicuously absent from their feeders this season, but we did not see the same trend at the Lab. We caught 21 hummingbirds this season—above the 16.3 average we have seen for the last ten years.  

 

 

 

 

However, there are more interesting trends that may be shaping the hummingbird story. For the last ten years, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been arriving a week earlier than they had in decades pasts, but this year we handled the latest migrant hummingbird we have ever caught on June 8.

 

 Our data show that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been arriving a week earlier for the last ten years.

 

“Overall, despite the decadal trend, this spring migration was a little later for hummingbirds, explained Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Director of Landbird Conservation. “The cold weather lingered into spring, so leafout, insect larval emergence, and warbler migration were all delayed too. I hope the ever-popular hummingbirds were merely late, not missing this year.”

 

Visitors to the Banding Lab bring our mission of applying science and engaging people to action. This season we welcomed over 560 guests, including two Climate Lab schools, Wheaton College students, a homeschooling group, and a photography group—to name a few.

 

We are pleased to announce that this fall season we will have a new Outdoor Classroom as a part of our Accessibility Improvement Project. We have been working to make our facilities more accessible for years, with the hope of bringing more people to our campus.  We believe that people become better stewards of our world when they increase their knowledge of scientific methodologies, natural systems, and climate change and that our Banding Lab is a place where that special type of learning occurs.

 

With this project, we are continuing to bring the magic of nature-based learning to more people every year.

 

 

2016-06-23 11:00