• Mansfield Update: YBFLs, NSWOs, and FOYs

    A banded juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl collects itself immediately after release, just before melting back into the night on Mt. Mansfield, 28 July 2020. © Avery Fish

    Quiet now reigns on the Mansfield ridgeline, as VCE’s 2020 banding season winds down. The fervent June songs of Bicknell’s Thrushes and White-throated Sparrows have become sporadic whispers, while the more restrained melodies of Blackpoll Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos have all but ceased. Most adult birds are undergoing flight feather molt, and most young-of-the-year have reached independence, so avian air traffic is decidedly lighter.

    VCE’s penultimate summer field session on July 28-29 featured near-ideal weather conditions—warm and calm with partial cloud cover. Several of us sported shorts throughout the visit, a once- or twice-annual luxury. Mist netting was steady but slow overall, and we ended up with a total of 41 captures. Highlights included our third Northern Saw-whet Owl of 2020 on the dusk closing run (a station record), and several firsts for the year (in bold italics below). Yellow-bellied Flycatchers continued their strong showing, with an adult and immature bringing our season total to 14 individuals, another station record. And, 8 new Blackpolls (4 hatching-year birds) boosted our seasonal total to 57 captures, our highest tally since 2016 and an encouraging sign for a species that is experiencing widespread declines.

    An adult (left) and hatching-year (right) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher banded on Mt. Mansfield, 29 July 2020. Note the difference in wing bars: whitish on adult, buffy-white on immature. © Michael Sargent

    Our 41 captures over both days included:

    Northern Saw-whet Owl — 1 juvenile
    Downy Woodpecker — 1 juvenile
    Yellow-bellied Flycatcher — 2 new bandings: female with refeathering brood patch and a hatching-year bird
    Black-capped Chickadee — 1 hatching-year bird
    Golden-crowned Kinglet — 1 bird in full juvenal plumage
    Red-breasted Nuthatch — 1 hatching-year bird
    Brown Creeper — 1 hatching-year bird
    Bicknell’s Thrush — 1 new adult female w/refeathering brood patch in early primary molt
    Purple Finch — 1 new yearling male missing primary #1
    Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) — 5 (4 new juveniles, 1 within-season recap female with regressing brood patch)
    White-throated Sparrow—  8 (3 new HYs, 1 new adult male and female, 4 within-season recaptures)
    Magnolia Warbler — 1 adult female in early primary molt
    Blackburnian Warbler — 1 hatching-year male
    Blackpoll Warbler — 10 (4 HYs, 6 adults [4 male, 2 female] all in primary molt)
    Black-throated Blue Warbler — 2 (adult female in primary molt and hatching-year male)
    Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) — 3 hatching year birds in various stages of postjuvenal molt
    Black-throated Green Warbler — 1 adult female with primary 1 missing

    A Golden-crowned Kinglet in juvenal plumage. Note its loosely-textured plumage and indistinct facial pattern compared to adults of this species. Mt. Mansfield, 29 July 2020. © Michael Sargent

    A banded adult female Blackpoll Warbler looks askance immediately after release on Mt. Mansfield, 29 July 2020. © Michael Sargent

    Our final summer session, pushed back to August 5-6 thanks to Tropical Storm Isaias, will likely feature a higher proportion of young birds, more non-local species in post-breeding dispersal mode, perhaps another diminutive owl or two, and…the possibility of something unexpected and storm-tossed. Sooty Tern, anyone? Yellow-breasted Chat?? Stay tuned.

    Brooke Hindinger (left) with a banded male Black-throated Blue Warbler and Chris Hansen (right) with a hatching-year male Blackburnian Warbler. Mt. Mansfield, 29 June 2020. © Michael Sargent

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    Comments (4)

    1. Paul Desjardins says:

      Just wanted to thank you for all you do. Great job!

    2. Dave Turner says:

      Wow.. I have never seen a juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl. Actually, I haven’t seen many of the birds you guys net and band until this year. What an experience for me to see you guys at work on Mount Mansfield!

    3. Ted Armstrong says:

      Chris thanks for the updates and pics. Thanks also for all you do about birds and birding

    4. Sarahschweitzer says:

      Hi, I just started getting email updates about the banding season, so apologies if you’ve already posted such a thing, but would love to see a video of the netting process and the banding process. I can’t quite get my mind around how you do it and I’d love to show my kids what goes on so that I don’t royally mis-explain that process….. Thanks so much and great work. Wonderful to see these rarely seen birds up close and in our own environs. Cheers, Sarah Etna, NH

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