30 May 2015 – Tufted Titmouse

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Imagine you are holding a deck of cards.  Now toss that deck on the floor and look at all 52 of them.  Now imagine that each one of those cards represents a different species of bird.  There are sparrows, warblers, thrushes, woodpeckers, etc. With the addition of a Tufted Titmouse this morning, there have now been 52 different species of birds killed in window collisions at the Noble Research Center since I started keeping track in 2009.

Screen shot 2015-05-30 at 10.32.04 AMAfter a slow start, it looks like spring casualties are on pace with previous years.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve featured Tufted Titmouse on this site: On 24 May 2012, I found a Tufted Titmouse at the Kerr-Drummond residence hall immediately to the west of Ag Hall.  That was unusual in that it was a female with a brood patch and she had actually lain down fat (I scored her as a 1).

Today’s bird was similar:  She was a second-year female with a drying brood patch and fat I would score as a 2.

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According to Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”  My watching has just suggested to me that 100% of the Tufted Titmice that have struck windows on this campus have been females in the last week of May with some fat accumulation in the furcular hollow and a brood patch suggestive of having recently produced fledglings.  Is this post-breeding dispersal?  Wandering to find a mate for a second brood?  Wandering after loss of a brood? Dispersal to a molting area?  Questions abound, but with my n = 2, it looks like the beginnings of a pattern to me.

26 May 2015 – no casualties, but a correction

Thanks to concurrent surveys between Corey Riding’s project and my own, I learned Monday (5/25) of a bird that I had missed on Sunday (5/24): At the north entrance and tucked under some shrubs is a Mourning Warbler.  I missed the bird on two consecutive surveys.  Corey thinks it must have come in sometime during the day on Saturday (5/23).

I’m not too upset to have missed this bird – twice! – because it is waterlogged and cryptic against the background mulch on which it lies and I could only see it from a specific angle that I rarely take when investigating that section of shrubbery.  The key is not to never miss a bird on a survey, it’s to conduct redundant surveys to estimate how many I might be missing. Thankfully, that number seems to be quite low, but we’ll know better what it actually is in a few months.

Both Mourning Warbler and the Swainson’s Thrush were in place this morning.

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24 May 2015 – the first Ovenbird

This morning I found the 51st species casualty on the project – a horribly drenched Ovenbird that needed a couple of hours in front of my space heater to dry out and reclaim its former beauty.

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Can you see it? I can.

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At this point, I already knew what it was. That belly was just too white.

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This was a southeast alcove casualty:

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Once dried and re-sheveled, I could tell that this beauty was an after-second-year bird, but its sex could not be determined.  What was obvious was that it was bulging with fat in the furcular hollow and all across the belly.  This bird was in prime condition.

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16 May 2015 – Nashville Warbler and a 3rd Painted Bunting

For the 3rd consecutive day I’ve found a SY Painted Bunting at the Noble Research Center.  This one looks to be SY female with fat = 0, and was lying out in the open at the northwest alcove.

Also today there was a SY male Nashville Warbler at the main north entrance.  This one was fat (2) and appeared to be in excellent shape, save for the impact marks on its bill that signal a violent, but perhaps mercilessly quick, end to its brief life.

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The bright yellow-green rump on this bird suggests the western subspecies to me . . .

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Nashville Warblers don't mess with Painted Buntings.

Nashville Warblers don’t mess with Painted Buntings.

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Note impact marks on tip of bill.

Note impact marks on tip of bill.

Rufous crown coming in . . .

Rufous crown coming in . . .

15 May 2015 – Painted Bunting

Another day, another dead Painted Bunting.  This time the bird was more convincingly second-year, and a female. This 203rd casualty for the project was the 10th Indigo Bunting killed at the NRC since I’ve been monitoring there.  This moves Painted Bunting ahead of Indigo, tying the former for 5th place with Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the list of frequent casualties.

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14 May 2015 – Painted Bunting

With apologies for not having my camera with me today, I found this second-year male Painted Bunting lying waterlogged and disheveled on top of the right hedge at the north entrance to the NRC today.

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An hour in front of my space heated dried the bird out. This bird was in great shape (fat = 2) and bright green above with yellowish breast and belly.  It had three tiny patches of blue feathers coming in on the head along with tapered rects, tapered primary coverts, and parallel growth bars in the rects.

Swainson’s Thrush remains at the northwest alcove.

10 May 2015 – Swainson’s Thrush

We’ve had soaking rains every day for most of the past week.  This weather might have contributed to my failure to notice the waterlogged Swainson’s Thrush I found in the northwest alcove today.  It’s not only a sodden mess on the outside, from its state of decay it seems to have spent some time in its unusual location (tucked near the edge of the sidewalk in the muddy grass) before I found it today.  I suppose it’s possible to have come in yesterday morning after my check, but I think more likely it came in on May 8 sometime, and I just missed it.  I’m confident that it wasn’t there on May 7.  Rather than second guess myself I’ll list it as a May 10 casualty unless any of my collaborators have any information to suggest otherwise.

I left the carcass in place for a removal trial.

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