Friday, June 18, 2010

MAPS: Day 2--June 15, 2010

Day 2: June 15, 2010
Banders: Bethany Woodworth, Patrick Keenan, Kristen Babcock, Reed Wommack, and Sanders Wommack
Weather: Calm, 60’s, and partly cloudy and partly sunny
Start time: 4:40am End time: 10:25am

Hi All, what a great day of banding. Today marked the first day of our interns being on hand to assist at the netting station and learn about bird ID, the MAPS protocol, and bird banding. Our intern Reed Wommack a recent high school graduate (Yarmouth H. S.) and bird enthusiast offered this (below) candid description of his experience. Thank you to Reed and enjoy!

Reed Wommack releases a male common yellowthroat. A frequent capture at our site.

From Reed Wommack: Bird Bander-Early

It was only my first day on the job, and I already had so much to learn. First, “waking up early” is a relative term. To a student or white-collar worker 6:00am is early. To a lobsterman, 4:00 am is early. But to bird-banders, there’s no such thing as an early morning.

It’s just a late night. Yes, we woke up at 2:45 am. Well, I woke up that early, but my brother (who accompanied me this once) simply never went to sleep. But according to him, and according to us all, it was totally worth it.

The air was still crisp and the sky starry as Kristin Babcock, another volunteer, and I carpooled down to UNE’s banding site in Biddeford, where we met up with BRI’s Patrick Keenan and UNE professor Bethany Woodworth. At the car we collected ourselves and gathered our belongings before heading into the woods to start our MAPs banding. MAPs is a program that integrates over 500 volunteer bird-banding sites across North America to gain data about bird populations to help conservation efforts.

We set up the first mist nets just as the sky was getting light.

By 6 am all of the ten-foot tall, forty-foot wide black filament nets were up in select locations throughout the woods. After the first net run, Bethany brought the first bird to base-camp in a small cloth bag. I watched in awe as Patrick carefully eased the hermit thrush out of the bag and worked with practiced speed and grace to complete all the measurements and banding. Though I was fully expecting to take a backseat role throughout the entire day, Patrick asked if I wanted to hold the bird, and before I knew it, the thrush was tucked into my hand. Over the course of the day I handled nearly every species that came in and was eventually taking measurements on my own and helping extract birds out of nets.

During the nearly six hours of operation, we caught about twenty birds, mostly common yellowthroats, hermit thrushes, and ovenbirds, about half of which had been banded last season. However, there were some unique species that we banded such as a stunning female scarlet tanager and an eastern wood- pewee. An owl, possibly a barred owl, also flew into one of the nets, but managed to escape, leaving behind a tangled net and a few feathers.

Although I accidentally released a bird (don’t worry it was recaptured later), all in all I’d say it was an extremely successfully first day. Yes, it was early, but yes, it was worth it. There’s nothing quite like holding a small warbler and feeling its warm heart beat against your hand; I can’t wait to go out and do it again next Tuesday! --Reed Wommack

We captured a total of 20 birds on this, our second day of netting this year. We banded nine individuals and recaptured 11. Here is the unofficial tally:

Species Banded
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceaous)
Eastern Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)
Myrtle Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothylypis trichas)

Species Recaptured
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
Veery (Catharus fuscescens)
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothylypis trichas)
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus)

Until our next banding day (scheduled for 6/29), be well.

Patrick Keenan
Outreach Coordinator
BioDiversity Research Institute

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