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New Jersey Catbird
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Sommer Park Preserve, Hopewell, New Jersey


Breeding Season 2015
Hannah Suthers

In the Winter 2014 Report, I wrote about the effects of the freak wet snow storm of 29 Oct 2011 and Hurricane Sandy of 29 Oct 2012 on the nesting season of 2013. Sandy caused 167 tree falls of cedars and hardwoods in the Featherbed Lane Bird Banding and Research Station study area of 108 acres and control woods of about 60 acres. Birds that prefer edges or gaps in woods for nesting occupied some of the spaces made available.

In the 2015 nesting season the trend continued with Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, White-eyed Vireos, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Common Yellowthroats in tree-fall gaps. The loss of nest cavity availability in the fallen trees did not affect woodpeckers, chickadees or titmice (they excavate their own). But numbers of White-breasted Nuthatches were reduced from 9 to 2, and Great-crested Flycatchers from 3 to 1.

The bitter cold and deep snow in Feb-Mar 2015 resulted in losses and reduction of resident numbers. Mockingbirds and Great-horned Owl were entirely gone. Carolina Wrens dropped from 11 to 1, Bluebirds from 4 to 1, White-breasted Nuthatches from 9 to 2. Though the species count is up, the substantial drop in numbers of the Neotropical breeders this year is startling; only 130 singing males this year compared with 273 last year.

It is hard to say specifically what happened and where, but natural and man-made causes take an unsustainable toll on birds every year. To name just a few in addition to habitat loss, it is extrapolated from data that every year free-roaming cats kill 2 billion, 912 million birds (American Bird Conservancy Oct. 2015); building strikes during annual migration kill 365 to 988 million (National Audubon 19 March 2014); pesticides kill 4.5 million yearly (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2005); wind turbines kill up to half a million every year (USF&WS, 5 Oct 2015). Is it any wonder?

43 birds returned from previous years, including an after-6-year Red-eyed Vireo, a 7-year-old Wood Thrush, 8-year-old Common Yellowthroat and Ovenbird, 10-year-old Catbird. The older birds have returned more than once; they are breeding-site faithful as long as they live.

The annotated roster of breeding birds can be found on our website. The numbers are singing/displaying males, implying a pair. The singing males were spot-mapped and listed below if they were seen/heard at least three times 5 days or more apart, or in three consecutive months of the breeding season. Birds banded 17 May through 23 August are in parentheses. Nets catch only those adults and their young in the territories that the nets traverse, thus the differences in numbers from singing males.

Resident birds, 24 species:
Canada Goose2
Black Vultureflyover
Turkey Vulture6
Red-shouldered Hawk,May 24, June 5
Red-tailed Hawk2
Wild Turkey
Eastern Screech Owl1
Barred Owl1
Red-bellied Woodpecker20, (1 fledgling)
Downy Woodpecker9, (2 adults, 13 fledglings)
Hairy Woodpecker3, (2 fledglings)
Pileated Woodpecker1
AmericanCrow 4
Carolina Chickadee3
Black-Capped x Carolina Chickadee Hybrid3 (4 adults, 3 fledglings)
Eastern Tufted Titmouse30, (adult with fledgling)
White-breasted Nuthatch4, (1 adult)
Carolina Wren1, (1 fledgling)
Eastern Bluebird2
Cedar Waxwing1
Northern Cardinal28, (5 adults, 3 fledglings)
House Finch5
American Goldfinch1
House Sparrow1
Temperate (short distance) migrants, 19 species:
Great Blue Heron7, June, farm pond
Cooper’s Hawkpair
Broad-winged Hawk,male brought a snake to female on nest
American Woodcock4 displaying
Mourning Dove13
Yellow-shafted Flicker5, (1 adult, 4 fledglings)
Eastern Phoebe1, (1 fledgling)
Blue Jay26, (2 adults, 4 fledglings)
European Starling1
American Robin33, (4 adults)
White-eyed Vireo2, (adult with 2 fledglings)
House Wren7, (3 fledglings)
Eastern Towhee28 (1 fledgling)
Chipping Sparrow7 (1 fledgling)
Field Sparrow2
Song Sparrow4
Red-winged Blackbird6
Common Grackle2
Brown-headed Cowbird3, (adult female)
Black-capped Chickadee1
Neotropical (long distance) migrants, 28 species:
Yellow-billed Cuckoo6
Chimney Swift3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1 (1 fledgling not banded)
Eastern Wood-Pewee4 (1 adult)
Willow Flycatcher1 (1 fledgling)
Great-crested Flycatcher1 (adult female)
Eastern Kingbird1
Barn Swallow5
Tree Swallow2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher2, (adult with 2 fledglings)
Gray Catbird80 (33 adults, 35 fledglings of 3 broods)
Veery10 (1 adult 4 fledglings)
Wood Thrush33 (13 adults, 21 fledglings)
Red-eyed Vireo11 (2 adult)
Yellow-throated Vireo1
Warbling Vireo1
Blue-winged Warbler5 (3 adults, 1 fledgling)
Yellow Warbler1
Chestnut-sided Warbler1
Black-and-white Warbler5 (1 fledgling)
American Redstart2 (3 fledglings)
Ovenbird38 (16 adults, 16 fledglings)
Worm-eating Warbler1 (fledgling Aug 2)
Common Yellowthroat28 (9 adults, 7 fledglings)
Scarlet Tanager9
Rose-breasted Grosbeak1 (3 adults)
Indigo Bunting2
Baltimore Oriole7 (1 adult)


Last revision: Saturday, June 4, 2016