October 2010 Summary

I checked for casualties on 25/31 days in October, and encountered the following:

1 unknown songbird
1 House Wren
2 Lincoln’s Sparrow
2 Grasshopper Sparrow
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow

28 October 2010 – White-throated and Song sparrows

I found two sparrows this morning, a White-throated (fully dead) and Song (nearly dead).

Fat = 1, AHY-U

The Song Sparrow was still alive when I found it, but I was able to easily capture it by hand.

According to Dan Klem’s classic work, about 50% of the birds that are able to fly away from a window collision will ultimately succumb to their injuries. I don’t count “trapped” birds as casualties, but if I’m able to catch it, chances are its injuries are potentially life-threatening. In this case, I took the sparrow with me and carried it around for awhile until it had shaken the cobwebs off a bit. I released it near some juniper shrubs on the southwest side of Ag Hall, and it flew ~ 20′ into those shrubs. I will, however, consider it a “casualty.”

26 October 2010 – Grasshopper Sparrow and Red-breated Nuthatch

The nuthatch (female, apparent AHY) had already been hit by ants about the head, so I left her in place to check on scavenging rate. This is the 2nd nuthatch I’ve found in the past week or so (but the first I’ve recorded at the Noble Research Center), and it might portend a big influx this winter. Check out the winter range of this species:

The sparrow (AHY-U, fat = 3) was another beautiful, fat, healthy victim of its own sensory perception being unable to detect a barrier of glass.

25 October 2010 – Grasshopper Sparrow

Fat = 3

A fresh Grasshopper Sparrow met its untimely end at the NRC overnight. There was another trapped at the north facing windows when I got there in the pre-dawn light this morning. I flushed the live bird out and it appeared to fly off and to safety.

19 October 2010 – unknown passerine

I think it was a Lincoln’s Sparrow, but the feathers I found were too nondescript for me to tell for sure.

The Grasshopper Sparrow has been scavenged.

So that was one bird scavenged on day zero and one on day two . . .

10/18/2010 – Bonus casualty from FAPC

Just across Farm Rd. from Ag Hall – and across a parking lot from the NRC – stands the Food and Agricultural Products Center or FAPC. From time to time I’ve found casualties there: cardinal, hummingbird, and Lincoln’s sparrow come to mind. A little while ago, I found this female Red-breasted Nuthatch, a potential harbinger of a big nuthatch invasion this year. The bird is an HY female with a fat score = 2.

18 October 2010 – Grasshopper Sparrow

Given my schedule over the weekend hosting the Oklahoma Ornithological Society annual meeting, I was unable to check the NRC on the 16th and 17th. (I did, however, find remains of Lincoln’s Sparrow and Wilson’s Warbler at the Kerr Residence Hall).

This morning I found a single Grasshopper Sparrow at the NRC. This was the first time I’ve found a carcass at the bottom of the stairway on the east side of the building. Beetles have gotten to the carcass; I’ll leave it there to see how long it lasts. (The cuckoo from June is still visible btw, although only when I know to look for it. It has reached a stage of decomposition at which it is easy to overlook when just casually walking by.)

This last photo was taken without the flash, to provide a sense of how dark it was at about 7:25 when I did this morning’s survey.

13 October 2010 – flock of Lincoln’s Sparrows

As the season progresses and I’m on a new schedule that gets me to work by 7:30 am, I’m ending up checking the NRC ever closer to dawn. This morning I heard several flight calls while out in the dark around 6:30; when I reached the NRC by about 7:20 (twilight) I flushed several small birds from a juniper border (~ 1m high) around the lawn surrounding the building. At least one was a warbler; the others appeared to be Lincoln’s Sparrows and Chipping or Clay-colored Sparrows.

When I got to the north side of the building, there were 4-6 Lincoln’s Sparrows in the bushes right at the glass. This event afforded me the rare opportunity to watch these birds right as they were looking for a place to settle in for the day and just as they were becoming trapped by the funneling effect of the building’s shape with its several recessed alcoves. As I herded individuals away from the glass, some bumped into other panes (at low speed) and simply flew away (just a foot or so above the ground) directly into the next adjacent alcove. So while there were no casualties today, there were probably 4 Lincoln’s Sparrows that became trapped by the NRC. Here’s one of them:

10 October 2010 – scavenged sparrow and a mammalian surprise

I found another one of those instantly scavenged individuals yesterday, this one identifiable as a Lincoln’s Sparrow from the lone undertail covert and distal end of one wing I found:

The real excitement, however, was furnished by this little guy:

Did you see him?

This was a very much alive (though a bit waterlogged following an afternoon storm) big brown bat. I couldn’t tell if the bat was stunned from striking a window or simply ended up at this spot and was acting unobtrusive as best it could. I didn’t think it would fare well out in the open either way, so I moved the little forest sprite to a nice, protected tree well away from the NRC.

A few moments later, the bat was gone!

No worries – it crawled deep into a crevice in the main crotch of the tree.

7 October 2010 – Lincoln’s Sparrow

So over the past several days I’ve found a Lincoln’s Sparrow and a House Wren hanging around the NRC, apparently unable to figure out a way to fly away from the building. Over the past two days I’ve found a dead House Wren and a dead Lincoln’s Sparrow at that building.

AHY-U, fat = 0

1 October 2010 – no casualties, but . . .

Again I found a confused Lincoln’s Sparrow trapped on the east side of the building. It made me wonder if it actually hurts these birds to fly the “wrong” way when they’re on migration. It’d be so easy for this bird to escape by simply flying about 100 m north and proceeding around the NRC. But when I flush it, it flies E-W and S – it won’t go north, to freedom.

September 2010 summary

It looks like Sep. 1 is the only day I did not check for casualties this month. Here’s what I found on the days I did check:

2 Mourning Warblers
1 unidentified warbler
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Brown Thrasher