Monday, July 12, 2010


This summer, I have been helping out at two MAPS stations. MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) stations are set up to run during the summer months and you must visit them once in every 10-day period. When visiting, you must set up mist-nets for bird banding and open them a half-hour before sunrise. Then, you check the nets for birds every half hour for six hours.

One of the stations is at Braddock Bay, on Manitou Beach Rd. in Greece, New York. We have two nets on the north side of the road in a small overgrown field and five nets in shrubland/young deciduous forest (backing up to the marshes at Braddock Bay) on the south side. I hadn't visited the station until late June due to school and exams. The first visit yielded few birds as the only birds around are local birds focused on breeding activities. This time of year is typically slow, but picks up in mid-July when the young birds fledge and starting moving around a lot. Most of the birds we caught in the nets were retraps (birds we had caught before and banded). Though we have banded these birds already, they provide valuable information such as the knowledge that these birds are probably locals and a breeding here. During the banding process, we check for a brood patch (female breeding characteristic) or a cloacal protuberance (male breeding characteristic). If we notice these on any birds we catch, we know that they are in breeding condition. By looking more closely at them we can even monitor what stage in the breeding process each bird is in. Along with this, the band numbers are sent into a central database. We receive information back on the birds that we caught that were retraps. Since this is the second year of this MAPS station, we caught a couple of birds this year from the previous season as well as birds banded at the nearby Braddock Bay Observatory (

The other banding station is at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) in Henrietta, NY. Here, the habitat is a large marsh with some ponds along with some shrubby/young deciduous forest areas and then some more mature deciduous forest. This location is diverse and is a tremendous birding spot as well. During our visits here, we caught many Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, Gray Catbirds along with some other common birds. The birding during the visits was definitely better than the banding as we had tremendous looks at two Soras walking along the swamp trail and calling at the same time. Great Egrets, Green and Great Blue Herons, and Black-crowned Night-Herons were cool sightings out in the main pond along with families of geese, Mallards, Wood Ducks and 3 Green-winged Teal were neat. Also interesting were pairs of American Coot and Common Moorhen who have both declined significantly in the area and are limited to just a few local places in Monroe county where they breed. Pairs of Red-tailed Hawks and Pileated Woodpeckers were also fun to watch.
A molt-limit in the greater coverts here (along with other characteristics) on this Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) makes it a second-year bird.
Here is an adult male Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
A male Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
Third-year male Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
A big surprise at Braddock Bay in the Summer-adult male Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
An abandoned nest in the field (Woodcock or Snipe...)
Our first baby bird of the season! Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

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