27 October 2013 – Four Lincoln’s Sparrows; 2 dead, 2 trapped

There was a dramatic scene at the Noble Research Center this morning, as I tried to steer a small flock of Lincoln’s Sparrows away from the building. Our story presumably began with the heavy flight of migrants last night in the Midwest.  Here’s the scene from about midnight last night:

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I checked the NRC on this bright morning at about 8:15 am.  Following a north, west, south-to-north route, I didn’t encounter any birds until I approached the main north entrance.  From the low shrubs I heard some rustling, and at least one sparrow pitched itself about 5′ from its hiding place into the window before turning around to flush north away from the window.  Three others followed, and 4 birds perched in an ornamental tree in a little courtyard seating area just north of the main north entrance to the NRC.

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From there, I crept around the tree to get a better look and identify the sparrows, but they were tough to see and all flushed and flew northwest before I could confirm the ID.  The first one flew to the southeast alcove where it flew directly into the brick wall before falling to the ground below. These “trapped” birds were clearly exhausted or otherwise impaired from one or more collisions.

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This is the bird that hit the brick wall:

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The other 3 birds flew to the NE alcove.  As I approached there, one bird was frantically flapping against the window that faces east (and looks like a clear passage to the other side to the west), and I watched it bump twice into the north-facing window on the south side of this alcove, right in the corner. This area is above an emergency exit stairwell, and that’s where the poor little guy ended up:

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Remarkably, this bird righted itself a few minutes later, and I actually left it alive at a secure location on the east side of the building where it should have no trouble navigating away should it survive.  I fully expect, however, to find its remains tomorrow morning, and I am counting it as a casualty.  As mentioned in earlier posts, it is often difficult for me to assign a categorical end to some of these birds that are alive but clearly compromised. This bird was awake enough that I elected not to euthanize it, but I doubt that it will survive and I am counting it as a casualty.

One of the other birds in that NE alcove perched in a tree there and ultimately flew back toward the courtyard trees.  That’s where it was (with the first bird that hit the brick wall) when I left.  The 4th was not so lucky.  This bird apparently flew right into the east-facing window of the NE alcove when it first flushed.

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This is how things ended up:

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