Yesterday’s Chipping Sparrow had me worried: it was flitting about so nervously trapped beneath the south portico that I assumed I’d find it dead this morning, from exhaustion if not from something else. Instead, I was greeted today by 2 Chipping Sparrows stuck in that spot this morning. Both are still moving fine and very active, but they’re going to have to figure out that flying down is their only way out.
As for the identification on these birds, I don’t have much to go on. From up in the rafters, I get only very quick glimpses of oblique angles and undersides. I managed these 2 photos today:
To separate autumn Chipping and Clay-colored sparrows, there are a few things on which to focus. In good light, I often rely simply on the warmer, buffier breast, flanks, and crown of Clay-colored to make the call, though I always prefer a clear view of the light brown rump, as opposed to Chippings’ gray rump. There is a gray rump visible in one of my photos (not one I posted), all but clinching Chipping Sparrow as the proper ID.
The head and facial pattern of Clay-colored is bold and conspicuously absent from these birds. Clay-colored shows a bright white mustache; this is absent on the birds in the photo. Also, the birds in the photo show dark lores. This is consistent with Chipping but not with Clay-colored. Thus, I’m pretty confident that these are Chipping Sparrows.
A crisp and cool night following a home football game made for lots of birds on the move and, evidently, quite a few coming into campus. I found this morning 3 dead Lincoln’s Sparrows: southwest alcove, southwest peninsula, and southern portico. I found a dead Grasshopper Sparrow at the northwest alcove.
Trapped birds consisted of a Song Sparrow that I pushed away from the southwest alcove, and a Chipping Sparrow in the rafters of the southern portico, apparently unable to figure out that flying down was the key to getting out.
I found 3 Lincoln’s and 1 Song Sparrow potentially trapped at the north entrance today. I’m only reporting them unofficially, and I won’t count them among my definitively trapped birds. All four were active and flying around strongly.
Last Sunday the 18th, I found a White-throated Sparrow at the southwest alcove and a Lincoln’s Sparrow at the entrance at the end of that alcove. There were also two trapped Lincoln’s Sparrows at the north entrance that I first found near the curved northeastern wall.
The story is a bit more complicated, however.
I was contacted over the weekend by Krista Pike who said that she had found a dead sparrow inside the Noble Research Center, and placed it outside for me to find. I wasn’t quite sure how to count a bird that died inside the building, but I ultimately decided to count it as any other unfortunate victim.
All right, it’s been several days so I’m comfortable listing that Lincoln’s Sparrow as trapped. It’s still in fine shape, but I watched it bump a window (gently) as it tried to evade me. There were at least two others and I think a Nashville Warbler hanging out in the trees by the main north entrance to the NRC this morning. It could be there are 4 trapped birds there, but I’m being conservative about how I catalog them because they are all flying strongly, etc.
Not so lucky were three other sparrows this morning. I found a Lincoln’s Sparrow at the southeast alcove and a Lincoln’s and Song Sparrow together at the south portico. All were in great shape with fat = 2 or 3. The Lincoln’s were both hatch-year; the Song was after hatch-year.
there’s a Lincoln’s Sparrow that has been hanging around the north entrance for a few days. It doesn’t appear trapped in the having-collided sense, but I’m keeping my eye on it.
There was also a Vesper Sparrow on the lawn to the north of the NRC. I think that’s the first one I’ve found on campus.