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New Jersey Catbird
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Sommer Park Preserve, Hopewell, New Jersey


Breeding Season 2009
Hannah Suthers

This nesting season will be remembered for its frequent, though mostly light, rains. Many tadpoles and invertebrates at the vernal pools may have been washed downstream. The entire season was green, with much standing water. The singing male census held its own with 65 nesting species, missing being the Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Brown Thrasher and Yellow-breasted Chat. Neotropical migrant species on territory stayed at just over 40% of all species, but their numbers are slowly drifting down from the peak of 57% of birds censused in 1995 to 41%.

Early nest attempts failed for many species, especially the ground nesters: there were only 9 Ovenbird fledglings banded compared to 15 last year, not appearing until mid July, and no Towhee and Blue-winged Warbler fledglings. Only 4 Wood Thrush fledglings were banded compared to 15 last year. Catbird fledglings appeared in the mist nets June 21, two weeks earlier than usual indicative of the warming trend, and three waves were evident though numbers were depressed.

Mist-netting for the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program resulted in 218 new birds compared to 341 last year, due both to fewer adults captured and the paucity of fledglings. Forty species were banded compared to 43 last year. Fifty birds returned from previous years, compared to 58 last year, and 14 of these were banded as fledglings. Ages of returns were over-8-years old male Veery, 8-year female Cardinal and 3 male Catbirds, over-7-years male and female Wood Thrushes, over-6-years male Catbird, 6-year male hybrid Chickadee, over-5-years male Robin, 5-year female Towhee, several other 5-year, 4-year, 3-year birds of various species. The migratory miles flown and navigation back to the same territory are awe inspiring.

As cooperators with the University of California LA/National Insititute of Health Avian Flu project, we swabbed and took feather samples of 200 birds.

The species list follows, the numbers being singing/displaying males on territory.


Common NameCount & Comments
Great Blue Heronflyover June 14
Green Heronat pond July 26
Wild Turkey3
Canada Goose2 pr, nests predated
Mourning Dove14
Black Vultureflyover June 14
Turkey Vulture2 pairs
Cooper's Hawk1
Red-tailed Hawk2 pair, routinely mobbed.
Screech Owl3
Great-horned Owl1
Black-billed Cuckoo1
Chimney Swiftflyover July 20
Ruby-throated Hummingbird3
Red-bellied Woodpecker20
Hairy Woodpecker1
Downy Woodpecker8
Yellow-shafted Flicker10
Pileated Woodpecker1
Eastern Wood Pewee6
Eastern Phoebe3
Great-crested Flycatcher8
Tree Swallowpair
Barn Swallow5 pairs, 25 fledglings
Blue Jay20
American Crow11
Carolina Chickadee12
Black-capped Chickadee3
Hybrid Chickadee4
Tufted Titmouse24
White-breasted Nuthatch10
Blue-gray Gnatcatcherpair building nest
House Wren10
Carolina Wren12
House Finch6
American Goldfinch6
Chipping Sparrow8
Song Sparrow8
Field Sparrow5
Eastern Towhee29
Northern Cardinal40
Rose-breasted Grosbeak11
House Sparrow6
White-eyed Vireo1
Yellow-throated Vireo5
Red-eyed Vireo13
Black-and-white Warbler1
Blue-winged Warbler9
Yellow Warbler3
Louisiana Waterthrush1
Common Yellowthroat23
Brown-headed Cowbird10
Red-winged Blackbird9
Baltimore Oriole14
Common Grackle14
European Starling1
Scarlet Tanager10
Cedar Waxwing3
Northern Mockingbird4
Gray Catbird58
Eastern Bluebird3, 2 broods
Wood Thrush24
American Robin49
Hannah Suthers and the Featherbed Lane Banding Station Crew


Last revision: Friday, February 11, 2011