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Highlight of birds banded and recaptured at the BBL during Fall 2021 Migration.
The Bird Banding Lab (BBL) at USGS Ecological Science Center recently finished the fall 2021 banding season at the long-term migration monitoring station on USFWS Patuxent Research Refuge. Operating since 1979, this station allows the lab to monitor migrating birds that utilize the refuge to rest and refuel. Following a brief hiatus in 2020, BBL biologists and volunteers operated the station for a total of 42 days, mid-August through mid-November 2021. A total of 1,651 new birds were banded and 371 recaptures of previously banded birds, with a total of 71 species for the season.
The fall season total included several uncommon captures, notably the station’s first House Finch banded since 1999! While common at bird feeders, House Finches are infrequent in the field station’s thick shrubby habitat. Previously, the crew banded only a dozen individuals. Other highlight species include: American Woodcock, Brown Creeper, Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape-may Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Along with the capture and banding of new birds, recaptures of previously banded birds contribute to the station’s long-term data set and provide important information on non-breeding site fidelity and survival. From 2007-2019, the station has only banded seven Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. This fall, biologists caught three sapsuckers, including two new birds as well as one that was previously banded. Because this individual was originally banded in November of 2016 as a first-year bird, we were able to determine it be to be 5 years old. Even more impressive, a Tufted Titmouse recaptured this season was originally banded in 2013, making it one of the oldest recaptures at the station at 8 years. This individual has been recaptured every year since 2013, adding valuable insight into the lifespan of this species common to eastern woodlands and suburban backyards. This individual is just four years away from breaking the North American Bird Banding Program’s longevity record for Tufted titmouse at age 12. We hope to see this titmouse again next year!
For more on the BBL’s banding station click here.
Fall 2021 totals of new birds banded (total number banded in parenthesis):