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New Jersey Catbird
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Sommer Park Preserve, Hopewell, New Jersey


Breeding Season 2011
Hannah Suthers

The succinct summary of this breeding season is early and wet, migrants and their chicks being about two weeks early, and August being the wettest on record. Trails and areas with sparse ground cover eroded. Forbs were lush and shrubs showed a good fruit set. Hickories and oaks were dropping their mast by end-August.

The first fledglings of Neotropical migratory birds in our weekly mist nets were a Worm-eating Warbler and a Blue-winged Warbler on June 12, followed by an early Catbird on June 19. Fledglings were sparse until the third week in July, implying early nesting failures due to inclement weather, for the second year in succession. Catbirds managed a second wave of fledglings on 24 July, and a third wave on 19 August. Fall fledglings, Canada Warbler and Northern Waterthrush, were banded on 19 August.

A new Veery age record beat the national age record previously set by one of our birds. This male Veery banded on 25 May 2003 as an after-second-year bird was recaptured on 31 May 2009, and again on 26 June 2011 at the age of after-ten-years and two months. Our previous national age record was set by a female Veery banded on 3 July 1980 as an after-hatch-year, and recaptured on 2 July 1989 at age after-ten-years.

The singing male census indicated 62 nesting species, 23 being Neotropical migrant species representing 37% of all species. (Compare with the high of nearly 47% in 1985.) Total breeding male individuals were up this year to 608, 41% being Neotropical migrant species.

Constant effort mist-netting and banding for the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program resulted in 180 new birds of 28 species. (2008 had 341new birds of 43 species.) Returns of birds banded in previous years were at 15%, or 32 birds of the 212 individuals captured.

As cooperators with the University of California LA Center for Tropical Research and The Conservation Genetics Resource Center, we pulled two tail feathers from each of 71 birds. The DNA in skin cells attached to the quill is used to determine the population origin of an individual bird, and stable isotope analysis of a portion of the feather is used to determine the latitude where the feather was grown. Researchers are trying to determine migratory connectivity, that is, the wintering grounds for specific populations of breeding birds and vice versa. The conservation implications are tremendous.

Visit the Center for Tropical Research (http:www.environment.ucla.edu/ctr/). Click on Research to see what research on four continents is being conducted to understand and conserve biodiversity, particularly in the tropics.

The species list follows, the numbers being singing/displaying males on territory, throughout unless specified by dates.

Great Blue Heronflyover July11, frogging in pond Aug 5
Wild Turkey1
Canada Goose1 pr, nest predated
Mourning Dove8
Black Vultureflyovers, Aug 9, 26
Turkey Vulture3 pairs
Cooper's Hawk1
Red-tailed Hawk2 pair, routinely mobbed
Screech Owl3
Great-horned Owl1, Aug 9
Chimney Swiftflyover May
Ruby-throated Hummingbird2, July, Aug
Red-bellied Woodpecker26
Downy Woodpecker6
Yellow-shafted Flicker5
Pileated Woodpecker1
Eastern Wood Pewee5
Eastern Phoebe1
Great-crested Flycatcher10
Tree Swallowpair
Barn Swallow5 pairs, 12 fledglings
Blue Jay24
American Crow6
Carolina Chickadee7
Hybrid Chickadee7
Tufted Titmouse32
White-breasted Nuthatch8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher3
House Wren6
Carolina Wren2
House Finch4
American Goldfinch2
Chipping Sparrow8
Song Sparrow9
Field Sparrow6
Eastern Towhee32
Northern Cardinal29
Rose-breasted Grosbeak15
House Sparrow3
Red-eyed Vireo17
Blue-winged Warbler12
Yellow Warbler6
Common Yellowthroat27
Brown-headed Cowbird11
Red-winged Blackbird13
Orchard Oriole1
Baltimore Oriole13
Common Grackle12
European Starling3
Scarlet Tanager8
Northern Mockingbird2
Gray Catbird55
Eastern Bluebird3
Wood Thrush22
American Robin40


Last revision: Friday, February 8, 2013