12 May 2014 – another female Indigo Bunting; Clay-colored Sparrow removed

Science can be messy, especially when the subjects are living beings outside of a laboratory setting. 

Here’s the latest illustration of this principle:  If you had asked me last week if Indigo Bunting was a species that commonly shows up in my surveys for window-killed birds at Oklahoma State University’s Noble Research Center in Stillwater, I would have responded that I’ve found a few, but not an unusually high number of them. Indigo Bunting was the 10th most frequently recorded species on my surveys. From August 20, 2009 to May 4, 2014, I had only found 4 individuals of this species.  So in nearly 5 years I had found 4.  I would have been pretty confident in those 5 years of data, too.  After all, that’s the value of long term ecological research.  It provides a greater opportunity than in short term studies to identify patterns in data, including unusual events.

Speaking of unusual events, we’re in one now: Since, May 4th, I’ve found FIVE Indigo Buntings dead at the NRC. In five years I found 4 individuals; in the past week I found 5.  Oh, and all 5 have been females.  Today’s was an ASY female with fat = 0.

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In other news, the Clay-colored Sparrow is now gone without a trace (it lasted 5 days), but the Indigo Bunting I left out yesterday has not been touched.

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