This season, the banding lab captured 98 new Northern Cardinals—the most in the lab’s 49-year history. Milder winters and increased suburban development have created more favorable environments for this resident bird and have enabled a northward expansion of the species.
“The northward expansion of cardinals is one distinct trend occurring among birds in response to climate change,” said Banding Director Trevor Lloyd-Evans. “We have observed a steady increase in the cardinal population which corresponds with warming temperatures.”
Cardinals weren’t the only populous species this season as the banders also caught 86 Hermit Thrushes and 9 Sharp-shinned Hawks, both matching records for the past 20 years.
The lab closed its 50 mist nets last week after banding 2,089 new birds, 1,246 recaptures and 77 different species. Although the season started off slowly, the lab recorded its five biggest daily totals during the last four weeks of the season.
Lloyd-Evans said, “The season was rescued from mediocrity by a flurry of late migrants. Our totals were very low in the middle of season due to a dearth of Neotropical migrants, but it ended on a very positive note.”
On October 30, the banders caught five Yellow-shafted Flickers in one net run. Most woodpeckers are sedentary, but flickers migrate as far as the southern United States and Mexico, while Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers migrate to the southern United States and into Central America.
The season was also highlighted by some rare birds. The lab captured its first American Woodcock in over twenty years. American Woodcock is an unusual species because it is technically a shorebird but it lives in and around deciduous forests and along bodies of fresh water rather than in coastal areas.
The banders also caught two Yellow-billed Cuckoos and a Bicknell’s Thrush—both species are rarely seen at Manomet.
Over the course of four months, the lab welcomed over 450 visitors including graduate students, seasonal volunteers, photography classes, and elementary school groups.
According to Manomet Councilor and high school science teacher Deb Harrison, her students’ experience at the banding lab has been, “a prime example of the power of experiential learning, and the impact that engagement with real-world research and conservation work can have on broadening and enriching students’ perspectives.”
The success of the lab comes from the hard work of the banders. Grace, Ian, Ben and Lauren did a tremendous job this season, working from dawn to dusk to help us educate visitors and learn more about the birds around us.