Spring Migration on Grasslands 2017

A view of the east banding site

By Bethany Thornton, Erik Ost and Veronica Mecko

Spring migration is off to a good start in 2017! This year we debuted a new banding effort at Linscomb Wildlife Area, roughly 80 miles northwest of Springfield, Missouri. We are operating two stations at Linscomb, each of which cover areas of reconstructed prairie, in an attempt to sample grassland migrants.

Le Conte’s Sparrow

The west site is dominated by short, warm-season grasses and is bordered on all sides by woodlands. Our nets in this grassland have yielded an assortment of sparrows: Le Conte’s, Henslow’s, Savannah, and White-throated Sparrows have all been banded here. In the surrounding trees, we have detected various warblers, vireos, and kinglets as well as a few species of woodpecker. There is also a series of small pools at the north end of the site – an excellent spot to look for Blue-winged Teal and other migrants that prefer a wetter habitat.

View of the west site

The east station includes a small draw and patches of taller, shrubbier habitat. With the change in vegetation and fewer tree-lined borders, we observe a different array of visiting species. We have netted and banded Common Yellowthroat, American Goldfinch, and several other sparrows we have yet to band at the west station such as Swamp, Song and Grasshopper. Commonly observed species at both locations include Northern Harrier, Eastern Meadowlark, Field Sparrow and Wild Turkey.

Grasshopper Sparrow

The two stations are separated by a riparian area which hosts its own collection of migrants such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Orchard Oriole, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak and Orange-crowned Warbler among others. And of course we have detected a number of high-flying migrants over both sites, like Blue Jay, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle, just to name a few. In all, we’ve detected and identified 76 species at Linscomb.

Prairie Warbler

Spring migration banding will continue through the first week of May.

Blue Grosbeak first observed on April 23

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