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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22 September 2017 – Mourning Warbler

I’m mourning the loss of another one today – this AHY female I found at the northwest alcove. She was fat (=3) and healthy at 12.5g.

 

This was the unofficial 315th casualty on the project and, for a new sobering record, the 44th this year. The previous annual high was 41. We’ve surpassed that already in 2017 and, for us, migration is really just ramping up.

1 May 2016 – Swainson’s Thrush

The longest stretch without a casualty in 6 years was broken this weekend, with the unfortunate Swainson’s Thrush below the first confirmed window kill at the Noble Research Center since 19 November, 2015.

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If you were in need of evidence to convince you that it is healthy individuals that succumb to window collisions, check out the fat deposits clearly visible in the furcular hollow and on the belly of this bird.  This bird was in the prime of life.

American Bird Conservancy report on window collisions

Sheppard, C. 2011. Bird-Friendly Building Design. American Bird Conservancy, The Plains, VA, 58p

The ABC has just released a report that really focuses on architectural and materials solutions to reducing window collisions. For more information, check here.

BirdFriendlyBuildingDesign

October 2010 Summary

I checked for casualties on 25/31 days in October, and encountered the following:

1 unknown songbird
1 House Wren
2 Lincoln’s Sparrow
2 Grasshopper Sparrow
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow

28 October 2010 – White-throated and Song sparrows

I found two sparrows this morning, a White-throated (fully dead) and Song (nearly dead).

Fat = 1, AHY-U

The Song Sparrow was still alive when I found it, but I was able to easily capture it by hand.

According to Dan Klem’s classic work, about 50% of the birds that are able to fly away from a window collision will ultimately succumb to their injuries. I don’t count “trapped” birds as casualties, but if I’m able to catch it, chances are its injuries are potentially life-threatening. In this case, I took the sparrow with me and carried it around for awhile until it had shaken the cobwebs off a bit. I released it near some juniper shrubs on the southwest side of Ag Hall, and it flew ~ 20′ into those shrubs. I will, however, consider it a “casualty.”

Is bird-safe glass on the way?

An astute reader directed my attention to an 8/28 article by Anne Eisenberg in the New York Times online Business Day section. The article describes the use of a new glass product developed in Germany, Ornilux, that holds promise for reducing window collisions because it is visible as a barrier to birds – its visible pattering, however, is largely invisible to humans, so the product could become popular for sustainable designs of homes and businesses.