Chalk up another second-year male Indigo Bunting as a window-kill victim at the Noble Research Center. This bird had fat = 1 and CP = 2.
May 15th was another odd one, and I’ll be glad when this pulse of window-killed migrants is passed.
On my morning survey, I found a SY male Painted Bunting at the southwestern alcove, and right in front of a treated pane. (The bird off to the left is May 12th’s Indigo Bunting.)
That’s bad enough. The building cost a Painted Bunting and the ABC bird tape apparently did not steer it away from danger.
Then I heard from Dawn Brown later in the day (~3:45 in the afternoon) that she had found and collected a Painted Bunting at the same location. When I got there moments later, the Indigo Bunting was gone (so it was removed sometime during the day on the 15th), and Dawn handed me a bag with this bird inside:
Ugh – a second dead Painted Bunting. This one was more difficult to sex but also clearly an SY bird. Note the beak damage on both individuals.
With special guest stars James O’Connell and David Mallen, today’s survey turned up a male Indigo Bunting and a trapped Yellow Warbler at the main north entrance. (No photo of the warbler; it was a male.)
Let’s take a closer look at that Indigo Bunting:
The multiple obvious molt limits on this bird illustrate two generations of feathers on the same individual, some of which grew in last summer and some which have come in quite recently. This confirms the age of the bird as second year (SY).
Today was one of those “just when I think I have this figured out” days.
As I was rounding the west perimeter of the Noble Research Center between the southwest and northwest alcoves, some feathers caught my eye up against the brick side of the building. This is the first time (in nearly 8 years) I found a bird at this spot and it was also pretty clearly one new to the study: a bright orange and black Baltimore Oriole, or at least a nice pile of feather remnants from what had lately been an adult male (ASY) Baltimore Oriole.
Though for consistency’s sake I’ll record that spot on the building as the location of collision, I in fact don’t know where the bird hit. All I know is that a predator (and very likely a cat based on the neatly sheared primaries) appears to have eaten said oriole at that spot.
Around the corner and into the northwest alcove, I found the remnants of a scavenged adult Mourning Dove. Here again was a bird in a very odd location. Strangely enough, the bird was in the exact location (beneath an ornamental buttonbush) where collaborator and OSU PhD student Corey Riding had the week before left a Cedar Waxwing carcass for a scavenging trial. Corey, however, had left neither a dove, an oriole, nor anything else at that spot since the waxwing. Puzzling for sure . . .
Finally, there was another bird at the end of the alcove in front of one of the untreated panes. Here was another oddity – a House Wren.
A powerful cold front with rotating bands of heavy rain moved into the Plains this weekend, leaving Stillwater waterlogged with nearly 6″ of rain. Snow accumulated in the Panhandle and, here in central Oklahoma, icy winds from the South kept temps from rising much higher than the low 50s F.
Several of us got to experience this weird watery weather all day long, as we braved those elements to participate in the Audubon Birdathon Big Day. Bands (squalls, really) of cold rain and occasional sleet swept through every 30 minutes or so throughout the day. It was cold, it was wet, and the Cimarron filled its banks and then some. Shorebirding was excellent, but the birds were in flooded fields as there certainly wasn’t any exposed mudflat for foraging.
We ended the day with a quite respectable 126 species, but it was a tough day for many of these birds. There were a few grim reminders that hard spring weather can rapidly turn deadly:
I’d been following this Mourning Dove that had nested in last year’s robin’s nest near the main north entrance of the Noble Research Center:
That sturdy adobe nest blew out of its tree in the wee morning hours of 4/29, and mama Mourning Dove wasn’t quite ready to give up on her eggs in the afternoon.
We found 14 (!) Soras at one site on the 30th, and a few days later I found this unfortunate one that died in a window collision at Eagle Heights Baptist Church:
The saddest case, however, had to be this one: Carolina Chickadees in one of my nest boxes were trying to fledge during that horrible weather on the 30th. A few of them made it – or at least made it outside the box and were promptly snatched up by my local Cooper’s Hawks – but at least one did not. A few days later, I checked the box to find these contents – a dead nestling and one of its parents, presumably the mother. Near as I can tell, the adult was in the box brooding the youngster and they both succumbed to the elements (or were killed but not retrieved by the Coops). I’ll never know the real cause of death, but either directly or indirectly, the rain squalls of Apr. 30th seem to have played a role.