Date: 9/26/18 7:12 pm From: David Lapuma <david.lapuma...> Subject: [JERSEYBI] Yellow-green Vireo - Cape May (late post)
This morning we (through a partnership between NJ Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, The Nature Conservancy, and Cellular Tracking Technologies) banded a mega-rarity in Cape May, a Yellow-green Vireo. This is a bird that breeds from Northern Mexico down into southern Central America, and typically winters in western South America. They are known to be vagrants in the southern US (typically Florida and Texas) as well as California, with very few records north of Florida on the east coast. Two years ago, one was banded in South Carolina, and one was also banded on Plum Island, MA in 2011. If accepted by the NJ bird records committee, this would be the first record of Yellow-green Vireo for the state of New Jersey.
Because we knew the significance of this bird, but also wanting to get the bird back into the wild as soon as possible (and because our policy is to not hold birds longer than necessary for processing) we quickly got out the word to the birding public through our WhatsApp group and let them know that there would be a public release of the bird in 15 minutes. In an effort to learn more about this vagrant, CTT affixed a LifeTag transmitter to the bird to track its future movements. After extensive measurements and banding, the bird was brought out to ~50 visitors to see and photograph before attaching the transmitter and releasing the bird (the transmitter is extremely light; well below the 3% body weight standard for transmitters and was affixed with glue which allows the transmitter to fall off after the next molt). A visitor from Uganda, who had been in the region for the American Birding Expo last weekend, provided the open-hand platform from which to release the bird and the crowd cheered after the bird flew off and up into the trees.
We are hopeful that the bird will transmit to one or more of the base stations around Cape May County and/or the Delaware Bay Shore, and if we are really lucky, one of the stations between here and Central America will pick it up as well, giving us insight into the behavior of a vagrant rather than simply a single point in space and time.
Some have wondered whether we knew about the bird prior to banding it, and the answer is no. The bird was captured during routine passive mistnetting and was a surprise to all of us, which just goes to show how even in a heavily-birded region these little buggers can sneak by (we’re still holding out for a Kirtland’s Warbler!) For those of you who missed the bird today, there is always hope that it could still be around; and any future sightings in public areas will be reported ASAP.
David A. La Puma, PhD
Director, Cape May Bird Observatory
New Jersey Audubon
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
P (CRE): 609.400.3833 (internal use: ext 922)
P (Northwood): 609.400.3834 (internal use: ext 714)