The second half of MAPS this year was quite slow, but we had a few interesting birds wind up in the nets. We finished off the season with a total of 283 new banded birds of 34 species/forms. This represents the lowest number of new bandings during MAPS since 2010 when the last session of MAPS was cancelled due to a flood in the park. New species banded for our MAPS total during our 2014 season include two Black-billed Magpies, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and an Intergrade Flicker. It was a great year for House Wrens as 46 new birds were banded, beating the previous record of 35 from 2011. Yellow Warblers and American Goldfinches also had a good showing with 32 and 12 new respectively tying the previous records also from 2011. Red-eyed Vireos, Song Sparrows and Pine Siskins were completely absent from this year`s banding totals though they had been captured in every previous year since the beginning of the project in 2010.
One of the highlights of the year was a gorgeous male Black-headed Grosbeak banded at the Old Baldy station on July 14th. This species breeds in the park but rarely ends up in our mist nets. Since 2010, a total of 5 have been banded during our MAPS program. This bird happened to be a new banding tick for the Bander-in-Charge!
Another fun bird captured this season was this gorgeous Brown Creeper at the Old Baldy site. Creepers too breed in the Cypress Hills but once again rarely hit the nets. This is the fourth one of its species captured at in the Cypress Hills during the MAPS season; the previous 3 were all banded in 2013. The tail feathers of Brown Creepers are very stiff, similar to woodpeckers, allowing them to support their bodies against the bark of trees as they forage.
With slower days, we were able to spend extra time on comparing similar birds. Slight differences between different age classes of birds could be studied in detail as well as the differences between males and females. This pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers shows quite well the differences between the sexes of this species. It was also fun to compare these adult birds to the drab plumage of juveniles of the species.
Overall it was a fun MAPS season and we are looking forward to next year!