28 September 2017 – Our first Savannah Sparrow, a trapped yellowthroat, and some bonus birds

Since Monday night, we seem to have received at least 5 inches of rain here in Stillwater.  That’s great as I’ve been lamenting the lack of even clouds for a few weeks. The system that brought the rain might have kept birds bottled up to our north because once it cleared last night (Wed.) there was one heck of a flight.

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Of course, attempts to correlate window collision mortality with big radar echoes of migrating birds are fraught with confirmation bias.  There are plenty of big flights that result in no dead birds on my rounds, and I’m a lot more likely to check “last night’s radar” on a morning when I find multiple casualties.  Today was one of those days.

I walked to the Noble Research Center on a route that took me past the long row of windows on the southern side of the Food and Agricultural Products Building, aka, FAPC. This is just across a parking lot from the NRC and I’ve made several incidental finds there.  Today, these “bonus birds” numbered three: an Ovenbird, a Common Yellowthroat (collected) and, around the corner, a female Indigo Bunting that had been there for at least a few days. So before I even made it to the NRC, I encountered 3 window-killed birds.

The yellowthroat was an apparent AHY-male, with fat = 2 and weighing in at 12 g.

 

At the NRC was another surprise.  Surprisingly, after all these years and considering how common these birds are as migrants and wintering residents, I found the project’s first Savannah Sparrow, in the northwest alcove.

 

 

There was also a trapped Common Yellowthroat at the main north entrance and another Savannah sparrow flitting around – through not trapped – just west of the southern portico entrance. The Savannah Sparrow was AHY-U, weighing 18g with a fat score = 2.

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Spring/Summer 2017 was busy

As I’m about to head out for a conference this week, spring and summer monitoring comes to a close.  I’ll begin August 2017 the 9th consecutive year of (mostly) daily monitoring for window casualties at the Noble Research Center on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.

It’s been a busy spring.

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Beginning Mar 1st, here’s what has turned up at the Noble Research Center.

Dead Birds

  1. Indigo Bunting – 5
  2. Painted Bunting – 5
  3. Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 3
  4. Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
  5. Mourning Dove – 2
  6. Nashville Warbler – 2
  7. Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
  8. Baltimore Oriole – 1
  9. Chipping Sparrow – 1
  10. Eastern Meadowlark – 1
  11. House Wren – 1
  12. Northern Parula – 1
  13. Tennessee Warbler – 1
  14. Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1

That’s 28 individuals of 14 species, and damn, that is disheartening.

On the plus side, my commitment to checking almost every day has put me in position to save a few birds by getting them safely away from the building and taking them someplace secure to rest and recuperate for a bit. I can’t guarantee that all 6 of these survived the ordeal, but they seemed to be in good shape when I last saw them:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Common Yellowthroat
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Song Sparrow
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Carolina Wren

 

 

3 April 2017 – trapped Common Yellowthroat

I found this rather early fellow right in front of the doorway to the southeast alcove this morning. He’s a gorgeous, ASY male Common Yellowthroat with fat score = 1. He was dazed enough that I caught him but alert and feisty in the hand, and he perched well when I moved him to a safe spot.  In addition to being one of history’s all-time great yellowthroats, he has the distinction of being the 100th “trapped” bird that I’ve been able to move or shoo away from the Noble Research Center.  If even one of them recovered enough to fly on and live out its life then every one of these walks around the NRC has been worth it!

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Unfortunately, something went screwy with my camera and this is the only surviving photo:

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19 October 2016 – Lincoln’s Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat

Flight calls abounded last night as I walked the dog at least thrice.  Those calls – little tsips! and tseeps! sounded to me like sparrows flowing from the north after three straight days of strong winds blowing from the south. A quick check of Paul Hurtado’s Nexrad radar birds page confirmed a big push in Midwest and the Plains:

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Sadly, with that push came two casualties at the Noble Research Center: a Lincoln’s Sparrow (AHY-U with fat = 2) at the southwest alcove and a Common Yellowthroat (AHY-M with fat = 2) at the northwest alcove.  (Apologies for the shaky portrait on the Yellowthroat – it looked clear on my phone.)

 

Although casualties continue to pile up in the west alcoves where I’ve treated several windows with ABC Bird Tape, it has so far appeared to be the untreated panes in those alcoves that are claiming the casualties.

21 September 2013 – Clay-colored Sparrow and trapped Common Yellowthroat

The night before last, we had our first real cold front of autumn push through, pushing overnight lows down to the 50s for the first time in months.  I expected that yesterday would have been a big flight that would result in window collisions, but last night seems to have ushered in a bigger wave of migrants.  I found two at the south face of the Noble Research Center this morning (providing additional evidence that the direction of the prevailing wind has little to do with where on the building birds will end up).

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The first was this beautiful Clay-colored Sparrow (fat  = 2):

 

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Not far away was this Common Yellowthroat.  She was very much alive, and I was happy to see her fly away strongly when I shooed her away from the building.

This bird was an ID challenge:  She was very pale on the throat, breast, and belly, but her yellow undertail coverts were quite obvious.  That pattern, and the fact that she was pumping her tail a bit, had me thinking she might have been a Palm Warbler.  Her pale legs and the lack of white on the tail tips ruled out Palm Warbler, as did her lack of other plumage details that might have strengthened the link.  Instead, she looks to me like a hatch year, female Common Yellowthroat, but from the “Interior West” according to Sibley: those are the yellowthroats that can lack yellow throats, unlike the eastern subspecies that should show a bright yellow throat in all plumages.

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1 October 2012 – no casualties, but some bonus birds nearby

There looked to be a House Wren and two Lincoln’s Sparrows hanging around this morning, but I still can’t consider these birds “trapped” if I can’t get close enough to them to effectively herd them away from the building.

I did find a window-killed Lincoln’s Sparrow at a nearby building yesterday, and it seems to have hit the same window that an unfortunate Common Yellowthroat did a few days ago.

This building is the Food and Agricultural Products Center, located just west and across a parking lot from the Noble Research Center.  This is a weird little corner of the building that every year claims several birds, even though it seems very protected.

Northeastern corner of the Food and Agricultural Products Center. The two victims are visible, with my backpack for scale.