The Manomet Banders

Savannah Sparrow.

Monday and Tuesday were slow days for us in the lab with only 13 new birds banded. Overnight into Wednesday, the skies cleared and winds turned south. In stark contrast to the previous two days, we processed 68 new birds on Wednesday, the majority of which were White-throated Sparrows and Myrtle Warblers. For the week, we banded 98 new birds and processed 91 repeats, and as of Friday the 26th, we’ve processed 162 new birds and 199 repeats.

Overall, we had 12 new species for the week bringing our total up to 33 species for the season. These included Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Yellow Palm Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Veery, and Brown Thrasher. 8 of our 12 new species for the week were caught on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, a group of Chipping Sparrows invaded the property; we banded 12 of them but a flock of 30 were seen in the garden and on the lawn. 

In addition to the action in the banding lab on Wednesday, there was a general abundance of birds on the property. Joining forces with additional Manomet staff, we recorded 91 bird species for the day. This number represents the highest single day species total for Manomet on record.

Common Nighthawk. Photo by Alan Kneidel.

What caused such an influx of birds so early in the migration season? At least part of the story is tied to an intense storm system from earlier in the week that carried southern migrants well north of their intended destinations. We witnessed this phenomenon first hand, with sightings on the property of Blue Grosbeak, as well as early arrivals of Common Nighthawk, Great Crested Flycatcher, Chimney Swift, and Green Heron.

The highlight, however, was an amazing capture and banding of two Summer Tanagers, a species found mostly in southern pine-oak forests. Both second-year males, these birds featured stunning rosy-red plumage with some retained green juvenile flight feathers. After release, both birds lingered in the garden for a short while and were seen using their large bills to snap up insects.

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