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BIRD BANDING STATIONS

at Farm island and Fisherman Point near Pierre, South Dakota

hoodedIntroduction

Since the impoundment of the Missouri River, there have been many changes to the habitats of Farm Island and, of course, to the entire Missouri River floodplain. Once a dynamic mosaic of cottonwood/willow forest, oxbow lakes, sand bars, silver sagebrush/grassland and late succession forest of oak, hackberry, elm and other trees, most of the Missouri River floodplain is now under water. Farm Island is one of the few forested areas left remaining. Unfortunately, the habitats on Farm Island are proceeding to succession under an unnatural regime of erratic winter flooding and invasion by monocultures of red cedar, Russian olive, cattails and other plants. Lake Sharpe, impounded by the Big Bend Dam, first flooded the lower portions of Farm Island in 1963. The Oahe Dam, impounding Lake Oahe in 1958 just a few miles upstream of Farm Island, has had profound effects on the island. As sediment from the Bad River accumulated in the upper portions of Lake Sharpe, releases from Oahe Dam created water elevations higher than the lake level of Lake Sharpe, periodically flooding portions of the island. Bank erosion is gradually eliminating the highest portions of the island and will result in even more drastic changes. High releases in winter months, combined with ice jams, have resulted in flooding of portions of the upper island and many changes in vegetation, primarily invasion by cattails and reedgrass. In other areas where cottonwoods once dominated, the old cottonwoods are dying out and without the disturbance of natural spring flooding, no new cottonwoods are replacing them. A dense growth of eastern red cedar and an invasive exotic tree, the Russian olive, are replacing the diverse vegetation once present on the island.

The effects of these changes on the bird fauna of the island can be determined, thanks to the efforts of Nelda Holden, Gladyce and Charles Rogge, and other members of the South Dakota Ornithologists' Union, who banded birds on Farm Island in the 1960's and into the 1980's. The results of this banding can be compared to our banding data, collected since 1993 and hopefully continuing into the future.

In the spring of 2004 we opened a second banding station at Fisherman Point (also called Diver's Point) near Oahe Dam, Stanley County. Habitat at this banding station consists of a remnant cottonwood forest that lacks the long-term flooding issues present at Farm Island. However, both sites were impacted by flooding from record-level releases from Missouri River dams in 2011. Farm Island Nature Area, in particular, was subjected to months of flooding during the summer and early fall of 2011, which resulted in the loss of much of the lower habitat structure. Banding was abbreviated in the spring of 2011 because of rising water levels, and neither site could be sampled during the fall of 2011. Banding at Farm Island was relocated to a temporary site during the spring of 2012 because of trail reconstruction.

Methods
Since 1993, we have banded each spring and fall on Farm Island, with the exception of 2011. Farm Island is located about 3 miles east of Pierre, Hughes County, South Dakota. The banding site is located at the entrance to the hiking trail. The USGS Bird Banding Lab 10-minute block is 442-1001. Our banding period ranges from late April to early June in the spring and from late August to mid-October. A typical banding day is from 8 am to 12 noon, using ten 30-mm mesh, 12x2.6 m, 4-shelf mist nets, supplemented with some use of 60-mm mesh nets. Nets are attended continuously and birds removed as quickly as possible. Spring banding is concentrated in May and fall banding in September. We have collected a large data set of tarsus length, exposed culmen, bill length, and tail length. We record wing chord, weight, and a visual score of subcutaneous fat deposits of all birds that are banded. When possible fall birds are aged by skulling.
Map of the Banding Sitesbird banding location map
Results

As of the summer of 2014, we have banded 16,778 individual birds of 119 species plus 1 hybrid (Table 1). Orange-crowned Warbler is by far the most commonly captured bird species. Rounding out the top 5 species are Yellow Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, Myrtle Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat.

A male Common Yellowthroat ├é┬ábanded on September 12, 2006 was recaptured on May 9, 2014, making this individual more than 7 years old and the oldest known bird we've captured. Table 2 lists additional local recaptures of our banded birds.

When a banded bird is reported or recovered from another location, it is called a foreign band recovery. We have had two foreign band recoveries of birds we have banded. On 8 May 2001, a Swainson's Thrush was banded on Farm Island. It was found dead two years later on 20 May 2003 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A Blackpoll Warbler that was banded on Farm Island on 25 May 2005 was recaptured that fall (15 September) at the Allegheny Front Bird Observatory in West Virginia, providing important information on the migratory pathway of that species. The Pierre-area station captured a banded Alder Flycatcher on 23 May 2007 that was originally banded at Mugaha Creek in British Columbia, Canada on 19 August 2004.

Discussion

Our recent banding effort has far exceeded the banding effort in the 1960's to the 1980's (see Table 3). Comparison of the results is impaired without quantitative data of the net/hour effort of the early banders, but these data are not available. Species that we have not captured or captured in low numbers compared to the early banders are may be declining or may no longer occur in the remaining cottonwood forest habitat. Species that stand out as declining or missing are Wood Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Bell's Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, and American Redstart. These are all neotropical migrant species that once nested or still nest in the floodplain forest of the Missouri River. Other neotropical migrant breeding species such as Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat are present in high abundance. Common Yellowthroat and several sparrow species are obviously responding to the increasing cattail and weedy habitats on Farm Island. Yellow Warblers are a generalist breeding species, nesting in many woodland habitat types. This species is common statewide.

We have captured a number of migrant warbler species not reported by the early banders, such as the Hooded Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler and Northern Parula. Some non-breeding neotropical migrants occur in high abundance during migration, including Myrtle's Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Banders

Over the years many people have assisted and visited our banding stations. Listed below are the people who have contributed significant time. Doug Backlund and Eileen Dowd Stukel initiated the banding station at Farm Island in 1993. In 2004, we established the Fisherman Point station. Eileen stayed with the Farm Island station and Doug Backlund moved to the Fisherman Point station. Following Doug's retirement, Silka Kempema assumed primary responsibility for the Fisherman Point site. Wildlife Biologist Casey Mehls assists at both sites. This banding operation has benefitted from the help and interest of other SDGFP staff and many birders and volunteers.

Table 2. Some interesting recapture records of birds banded
and recaptured at our banding sites or recovered in Pierre

Species
Sex
First Capture
Last Recapture
Baltimore Oriole
Female
05/26/2004
05/21/2007
Black-capped Chickadee
unknown
9/18/2009
10/3/2013
Black-capped Chickadee
unknown
05/14/1996
09/26/2000
Black-capped Chickadee
unknown
09/16/1998
05/06/2003
Black-capped Chickadee
unknown
04/29/1997
09/26/2002

Black-capped Chickadee

unknown

09/21/2007

05/06/2011

Black-headed Grosbeak

Male

05/14/1996

Found dead in Pierre 5/17/2001

Black-headed Grosbeak

Male

05/17/1999

Found dead in Pierre 6/21/2000

Black-headed Grosbeak

Male

05/20/1999

05/16/2001

Black-headed Grosbeak

Female

05/22/2001

05/23/2006

Black-headed Grosbeak

Female

05/26/2004

05/23/2011

Brown Thrasher

unknown

5/29/2009

5/7/2014

Brown Thrasher

unknown

05/28/2004

05/06/2008

Brown Thrasher

unknown

05/10/2004

05/14/2008

Brown Thrasher

unknown

05/05/2005

05/26/2009

Common Yellowthroat

Male

9/12/2006

5/9/2014

Common Yellowthroat

Male

9/17/2009

5/22/2014 (also recaptured in 2010, 2011 and 2013)

Common Yellowthroat

Female

9/6/2006

5/30/2013

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/17/1999

5/17/2003 (recaptured 11 times)

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/17/1997

05/22/2003

Common Yellowthroat

Female

09/25/2002

9/9/2005 (also recap. 5/27/2004)

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/07/2001

05/15/2007

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/04/2003

05/28/2008

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/04/2003

05/22/2009

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/04/2003

05/27/2009

Common Yellowthroat

Male

09/04/2003

05/22/2009

Downy Woodpecker

Male

09/15/1997

05/03/2001

Gray Catbird

unknown

05/25/2001

05/24/2002

House Wren

unknown

5/18/2012

5/9/2014

House Wren

unknown

05/10/1999

05/14/2001

House Wren

unknown

05/06/1993

05/30/1996

Indigo Bunting

Male

5/18/2011

5/28/2014

Indigo x Lazuli Bunting hybrid

Male

9/8/2010

5/27/2014

Northern Cardinal

Male

09/12/2007

found dead in Pierre 11/21/2008

Northern Cardinal

Male

05/02/2006

09/01/2010

Red-eyed Vireo

unknown

05/26/2011

05/14/2012

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Male

05/20/1994

05/18/1995

Song Sparrow

unknown

09/27/1999

8/28/2001 (also recaptured 9/14/2000)

Song Sparrow

unknown

05/09/2003

05/11/2009

Spotted Towhee

Male

5/11/2009

5/8/2013

Spotted Towhee

Male

10/05/2001

05/19/2004

Spotted Towhee

Female

10/03/2002

09/26/2006

Warbling Vireo

unknown

05/17/2005

05/18/2006

Warbling Vireo

unknown

05/30/2008

05/14/2012

White-breasted Nuthatch

Female

8/31/1005

05/20/2009

White-breasted Nuthatch

Male

05/07/2009

05/11/2011

Yellow Warbler

Female

5/27/2010

5/27/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/21/2008

5/28/2014 (also recaptured in 2009)

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/19/2010

5/29/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/24/2011

5/29/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/19/2010

5/20/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/24/2011

5/22/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/18/2011

5/22/2014

Yellow Warbler

Male

5/17/2011

5/23/2014

Yellow Warbler

Female

05/27/2004

05/27/2009

Yellow Warbler

Female

05/20/2004

05/18/2010

Yellow Warbler

Female

05/22/2009

05/29/2012

Yellow Warbler

Male

05/17/2004

05/16/2006

Yellow Warbler

Female

05/27/2004

05/27/2009

Yellow Warbler

Male

05/25/2009

05/27/2011

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