Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Through July 15th, I will be assisting in the banding of birds at Hutcheson Memorial Forest in Somerset County. For those unfamiliar with the location, it is a very unique place and is one of the last remaining tracts of old growth forest left on the eastern seaboard. It is also off-limits to human disturbance and management (outside of once-every-few-months tour groups that walk only on the trails), which is certainly a rare thing in the Garden State. You can read more about it in one of my earliest blog posts, as well as at the Rutgers' HMF website.
By banding these breeding birds (migrants are excluded by the timing of our collection) and recording the available data, we will be able to compare the results with banding statistics from the 1980s. This will ideally shed some light on trends within neotropical migrant populations. It may also help to identify some negative effects that invasive plants may be having on breeding bird communities, as HMF has not been saved from an onslaught of barberry, stilt grass, and a slew of other non-native plants.
Our first time out, June 13th, was fairly successful. Despite a somewhat late start (5:50am) we were able to set up our 12 mist nets and do two rounds until close to 11am. We caught and banded three Gray Catbirds, three American Robins, two Wood Thrushes, two Blue Jays, a Tufted Titmouse, and an Eastern Towhee. The two Wood Thrush were found in the same mist net, so it is suspected that they may be breeding very close by. We should find out in the coming weeks if we recapture the same individuals.
Unfortunately the weather has been a major limiting factor. It pushed back our first outing twice and our next scheduled banding (June 18th) looks like it may be rained out as well. Hopefully we'll be able to get out at least once this weekend - check back to see what else we get! I've got my fingers crossed for Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Indigo Bunting, and maybe a Prairie Warbler.
at 9:33 AM