Metro Beach Metropark
Metro Beach Metropark
Migrant songbird banding was conducted at Metro Beach by Ellie T. Cox from Autumn 1989 through Spring 2001. An average of 14 nets (12-meters in length) were operated each spring from the last week in April through the first week of June, entirely on weekends.
In early April 2004, I resumed this migration monitoring and study of stopover ecology, placing a total of 7 nets in the same general area as had been used previously. Between 2001 and 2004, the habitat had changed somewhat, mainly in the open and shrubby areas, but a number of larger trees in the small woodlands had also fallen, preventing placement of some nets in similar locations. A description of the habitat as it appears in May 2004 is provided below.
The banding area is located at the west end of the maintenance road which passes north of Pt. Rosa Marsh. Nets were set up in this area mainly to the south of this road, and west of the marsh. An approximate "center point" of the banding area is located along the road at 42° 34˘ 32.5˛ N, 82° 48˘ 42.3˛ W. The banding area is approximately 120 meters east-west, and 75 meters north-south. To the northwest of this point no mist nets were set up due to the difficulty of access. Vegetation northwest of the center point is mainly shrub-swamp with thick growth of Black Willow (Salix nigra) and Pussy Willow (Salix discolor), and a few scattered Eastern Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides). To the northeast of the center point is a mostly dry woodland, with a few wet areas adjacent to the shrub-swamp, consisting almost entirely of Eastern Cottonwoods and scattered individuals of Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) and Boxelder (Acer negundo). The undergrowth here contains a few Red-Osier Dogwoods (Cornus stolonifera), Swamp Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera oblongifolia), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), and much Summer Grape (Vitis aestivalis) and Wild Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus). To the southeast, an area of closely-spaced Black Willows is adjacent to the road, which thins out to the south and east as it meets the marsh, which consists of a mixture of native Cattails (Typha latifolia) and alien Phragmites (Phragmites australis). To the south and south west, an open area with grasses and Cattails occurs, with Pussy Willows and a large (new) area of alien Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) nearest the road, and a stand of Silver Maples (Acer saccharinum) with individual Black Oak (Quercus velutina) and Eastern Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) trees. This maple woodlot meets a small cattail marsh at its southern end and farther south opens up into a grassy field and marsh. Ground cover is most prevalent south of the road, and consists mainly of Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).
SPRING 2004 RESULTS
Banding was conducted on a total of 16 days between April 4 and May 30 (6 days in April, 10 days in May). The daily standard was to have the nets open for a minimum of 6 hours (longer if conditions merit), beginning as soon as possible after entering the park at 6:00 a.m. and setting up all the nets. The total coverage of 96.00 hours equaled the total possible minimum hours. Net hours is the total number of 12-meter nets open each day multiplied by the number of hours open. The total net hours for this spring was 666.00. This figure allows for comparisons with previous years, despite differences in number of nets or days of operation, by determining the number of birds per 100 net hours. This spring, the overall capture rate was 102.0 birds per 100 Net Hours. Specific comparisons with the 1989-2001 study cannot be made as the annual capture rate data is not yet available to me, but was typically in the range of 30-60 per 100 Net Hours. This data confirms what was obvious to all observers. It was a fantastic spring for migrants.
A total of 575 birds of 66 species were banded, with a peak day of 120 of 24 species on May 9. That peak day was extremely busy, and 48 birds (mostly White-throated Sparrows) had to be released as there wasn’t time to get them all banded safely. Only half the nets were open that day, and only for a total of 4 hours, and the capture rate was 950 per 100 Net Hours!
Highlights included an Acadian Flycatcher on May 23 (only 2nd ever banded here), a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on May 8, three White-eyed Vireos, four Blue-winged Warblers, a Golden-winged Warbler on May 9, a female Hooded Warbler on May 23 (first ever banded here), and an Eastern Towhee on April 17. The most frequently banded species were White-throated Sparrow (99), Gray Catbird (30), Red-winged Blackbird (30), Magnolia Warbler (28), Common Yellowthroat (22), American Robin (19), Swamp Sparrow (19), Yellow Warbler (18), and Northern Waterthrush (18). Sparrows and warblers were banded in good numbers, while thrushes were somewhat low. Despite specific efforts, and a special permit to band Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, none was captured this spring. Also notable by their absences were Red-eyed Vireo, Cape May Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler. A complete listing of birds banded can be found in the table below.
Recaptures are an indication of how migrant birds use the area as a stopover site. This spring, there was a total of 55 recaptures, which included four birds originally banded by Cox. These included: a male Red-winged Blackbird originally banded as a second-year on May 5, 2001, making this bird a known fifth year bird; a female Northern Cardinal originally banded as an after hatch year on May 7, 1999, making this bird at least an after seventh year bird; a male Downy Woodpecker originally banded on April 29, 2000 as an after hatch year, making this bird at least an after sixth year bird; and a female Baltimore Oriole originally banded on May 5, 2001 as an after hatch year, making this bird at least an after fifth year bird.
The other 51 recaptures, as well as the outstanding capture rate this spring, provides strong evidence for the importance of this area at Metro Beach for migrant birds as a stopover site.
I wish to thank the Metro Beach management, in particular Jim Pershing, for permitting this banding to be conducted on this property, and to thank the Nature Center Staff, particularly Leslie Sutton and Julie Champion. Thanks also to those able assistants who helped clear net lanes, and helped in many other ways through the season, including Russ Brown, Cindy Cartwright, Bill Johnson, Beth Johnson, Fred Kaluza, Linda Kaluza, Angel Mitchell, Mark O’Keefe, Carl Pascoe, Rachel Powless, Mike Reese, Jason Sodergren, and Sue Wright. I would especially like to thank Ellie Cox for encouraging me to continue the project she established in 1989.