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KODIAK: Refuge Nets Local Birds To Monitor Survival and Productivity
Alaska Region, December 2, 2011
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Volunteer Lexie Sears holding a hermit thrush just prior to release.
Volunteer Lexie Sears holding a hermit thrush just prior to release. - Photo Credit: Lisa Hupp, FWS
Golden-crowned kinglet captured during the Kodiak Buskin River Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS) program.
Golden-crowned kinglet captured during the Kodiak Buskin River Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS) program. - Photo Credit: Lisa Hupp, FWS

The summer of 2011 marked the second season of the Kodiak Refuges’ Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship Program (MAPS). Refuge staff and volunteers netted and leg banded songbirds near the Buskin River once every ten days for about six weeks between June and August. MAPS is a nation-wide program established in 1989 to monitor landbirds through mist netting and banding.

In accordance with MAPS protocols, we used ten mist nets to capture unsuspecting songbirds as they went about their daily business of finding food and defending their territories. We removed the birds from the nets, and placed an individually numbered aluminum band around one leg before taking measurements and releasing them unharmed except for their new piece of jewelry. Because the birds are so faithful to nesting locations, by recapturing them in subsequent years, we can get an idea of how many survive their long trips back and forth between the breeding and wintering grounds. We can also use the ratio of young birds to adult birds captured as an index to productivity for the most abundant species.

This season, Refuge employees and volunteers banded 217 birds representing 13 species, and recaptured 45 birds including 16 birds banded last year. The returning birds included 3 Wilson’s Warblers, 4 Yellow Warblers, and 3 Hermit Thrushes, species that migrate to the lower 48 and even south into Central and South America. Interesting patterns in productivity are already appearing based on our two seasons of data. Once again this year Hermit Thrush and Fox Sparrow productivity were very good with lots of newly fledged nestlings captured. This year was also a very good year for Golden-crowned Kinglets. We captured nine times as many Kinglets in 2011 as in 2010, and the ratio of young Kinglets to adults was also high. The common warbler species don’t seem to be fairing quite as well. We captured far fewer Wilson’s and Yellow Warblers this season than last, as well as capturing very few young warblers. We plan to continue the program for at least three more seasons and it will be interesting to see if these patterns continue. If so, we can use this information to design studies focused on identifying causes for the differences in survivorship and productivity between species and years.

Cooperators from the community included Cindy Trussell, biology professor at Kodiak College, and Rich MacIntosh, a retired biologist with NOAA Fisheries and local bird expert. Despite the early morning hours working before sunrise to set up nets, this summer we had 30 volunteers from the Kodiak community participate, including several enthusiastic youngsters. We also had 10 volunteers who assisted on multiple mornings, gaining valuable experience that will help the program in future seasons.


Kodiak Refuge Bird Banding 2011
http://youtu.be/WxLg-2gUNj4
Contact Info: Robin Corcoran, 907-487-0229, robin_corcoran@fws.gov



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