There are baby robins and starlings all over campus now. This starling, sadly, did not survive long out of the nest.
With apologies for the 1) poor and 2) non-existent photos . . .
I found an ASY male Mourning Warbler (fat = 0) at the main north entrance this morning. He was waaaaay better looking than these photos attest, and I bet he was even more handsome in life.
In the northwest alcove lay a female (with well-developed brood patch!) Yellow-billed Cuckoo (no photo). I left the cuckoo in place, as the ants were already doing a number on her.
In scavenging news, the starling from 5/18 was both moved and eaten: I found a remnant pile of its larger feathers about 5m away from the bird’s location. Whatever picked it up had taken it south to the bushes in front of the northern entrance.
This was an odd find, both for species and location. In monitoring since 2009, this is only the second starling I’ve ever found, despite the fact that starlings nest on the NRC in spring and roost there year ’round. Starlings are pretty well urban-adapted, however, and I guess that explains the infrequency with which I come across them. They either know how to recognize glass as a barrier or they are so likely to perch on the building as opposed to flying past it that they’re more often at a safer “stalling speed” on the wing when they get close.
Except, of course, when they aren’t, and then they’re just as susceptible as any other passerine to death by window. That happened to this inexperienced youngster (HY) at some point over the past 24 hours. I left it in place for a removal trial.
The other weird thing as I alluded above was the location: left side of the main north entrance, close to where the building begins to curve on the east side.
There was a fresh, local starling at the NRC today, proving that at least sometimes these savvy urban birds can hit a window with the best of them. The little guy was fat, his beak was still full of food, and his parents were nearby. It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts before removal as it would be quite a prize for a local scavenger, but it was also right out in the open and probably something that a groundskeeper might remove.
Walking into Ag Hall after checking the NRC, I found the remains of a small bird, obviously a warbler by its size, olive-yellow background color and bright yellow breast feathers. Unfortunately, it’d been in place since sometime yesterday (I know it wasn’t there Friday) and it had been partially scavenged. The entire head and tail were missing, as were most of the “insides.” The legs, wings and some contour feathers of the breast and back were all that remained. This made identification a challenge. Here’s what I could discern:
There are no wingbars – this narrows the field considerably.
There are distinct, rufous streaks on the breast that contrast strongly with the bright yellow background color.
These features confirm a Yellow Warbler. The only question now is late spring or early fall migrant?
Here’s where Yellow Warblers have been reported this month via eBird: