31 May 2019 – Carolina Chickadee

Heading into June and, as I’ve seen in previous years, there is evidence of resident birds dispersing in late spring. Here is another Carolina Chickadee, and another female with a brood patch, that apparently met her end during a bout of post-breeding dispersal.

2 November 2016 – at first no casualties, but then . . .

I received a message of a Carolina Chickadee dead at the southwestern alcove that was found late morning/early afternoon.  This one looked like a HY-U bird, and it was at least a 2 on my fat score index. It seemed odd to me that a chickadee would be laying down fat at this time of year – and we’re still having daytime temps in the 80s – but there just seems to be a lot more movement of chickadees than we (or at least, I) had generally realized.

This bird was another victim of a window pane treated with ABC’s bird tape.

 

7 June 2016 – Carolina Chickadee

“It’s early June – I bet that’s a female with a brood patch.”

Indeed it was.

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30 August 2014 – Carolina Chickadee

I found this Carolina Chickadee at the North Entrance to the NRC today, and it was pretty severely mangled by the ants and at least one large beetle.  I don’t know if I missed this bird from a day or two ago (unlikely given it’s conspicuous location), of if these insects have just been able to tear into it with ferocious rapidity.

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29 September 2012 – Carolina Chickadee

I’ve been at this so long and always expecting migrants that I’m puzzled when a resident species shows up at a window.  Today it was another Carolina Chickadee.  The bird had a goodly amount of fat laid down (a 2, by my estimation) and was in heavy body molt.

12 September 2011 – Carolina Chickadee

I have recently embarked on my third year of regular window-collision monitoring at the Noble Research Center, and today I was quite surprised by what I found: this HY Carolina Chickadee (fat = 2):

It’s not that chickadees are rare, of course, they are common, year-round residents of every community in the three states in which I have been studying window collisions for the past 15 years or so.  The rare thing is that in all that time, I have never found a dead chickadee at the base of window.  Chickadees are too agile, too familiar with their surroundings, too sedentary, and too slow to end up smacked into a window, or so I thought. Today’s unfortunate little bird is just a reminder that any time a bird finds itself near an expanse of reflective glass, there’s a good chance that the bird will meet its end there.

But it still has me wondering.  Why was this young chickadee in this unlikely location?  Why did it have a good layer of fat laid down?  Chickadees aren’t known to be migratory, but maybe this one was dispersing away from its natal home range.  Maybe the prolonged drought is forcing even our normally sedentary species to wander farther than normal in search of food. Maybe the fact that this bird was on the move was not unusual, but my ability to detect it doing so was. We still have so much to learn even about our most common species.

I took the opportunity with this bird to provide some photos of the process I use in this long-term research.  First, here are some photos of what the bird looked like when I found it.

Here is my processing station on my desk.  I use a wing rule for wing chord and tail length measurements, calipers for bill and tarsus length, and a Pesola spring scale for mass.  My definitive reference for identification, aging, and sexing is Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 1 (1997).  I write measurements and other details on the back of one of my old business cards.

Finally, I wrap each bird in a tissue and place it in a zip-top bag before it goes to the freezer downstairs. In a week or so, the bird will be prepped as a specimen for the OSU Collection of Vertebrates.