16 November 2010 – revisiting a false ID

One of the reasons I keep and/or photograph window-killed birds is that the record gives me the chance to double-check identifications some time after I made the initial determination. Such was the case yesterday (Nov. 15 2010) when I was working on a specimen I collected a year ago to the day (Nov. 15 2009). The specimen was in a bag labeled as a LeConte’s Sparrow, but the bird that came out of that bag was clearly and obviously a Grasshopper Sparrow.

Why did I think it was a LeConte’s Sparrow in my hand a year ago? I have no idea. The bird was fairly buffy about the head and breast, and it had a well defined nape patch, but it was otherwise not at all a good match for LeConte’s. It seems to have simply been a brain malfunction on my part – and one that I never would have been able to correct without the specimen or photo in-hand.

Bonus Ag Hall casualty – 8 November 2010

I noticed this poor junco yesterday morning (11/8). It’s just a few feet from this Mourning Warbler that hit the same window on May 17, and this Sharp-shinned Hawk that hit that same window on Oct. 16, 2009. So the same window has now claimed at least three individuals of three different species in a little more than a year. If you look out from the north window on the 2nd floor of Ag Hall, you can see the junco and the mummified remains of the Mourning Warbler.

See the junco? This is the perspective from which I first noticed all three birds.

Bonus casualties this week

North winds brought in lots of migrants this week, and that led to more birds coming to my attention elsewhere on campus. Ag Hall claimed an Orange-crowned Warbler this week, and there was a very fresh Dark-eyed Junco across the street at the Food and Agricultural Products Center.

2 November 2010 – Field and Grasshopper sparrows

NOTE: I did check on Nov. 1, but neglected to make an entry: no casualties.

I heard several flight calls while walking home from a basketball game around 9:45 last night, so I thought there might be a bird or two around the NRC this morning. There was.

First, I flushed a Grasshopper Sparrow from the hedges on the north side. Eventually, I herded this bird away from the building but he bumped into windows several times while trying to get his bearings. There was also a plump male Dark-eyed Junco similarly trapped by the building this morning, and I tried to herd him away as well. Time will tell if I was successful.

Another Grasshopper Sparrow was not so lucky. I found that bird in good condition but for some ant damage on the face, so I imagine that it came in some time yesterday. Either I missed it on yesterday’s search or it came in during the day. I left the sparrow in place to get some more scavenging rate data.

The second victim was this Field Sparrow, the first of this species I’ve found in window collision monitoring:
(AHY, Fat = 1)