30 October 2016 – 2 Grasshopper Sparrows

I found a trapped Grasshopper Sparrow at the main North entrance to the NRC today, and then a second dead bird at the southeastern alcove.  The trapped bird took quite a bit of effort to eventually guide away from the building, but the time was worth it if I was able to keep it from ending up like its comrade.





7 August 2014 – trapped Grasshopper Sparrow and local Mourning Dove

Screen shot 2014-08-07 at 10.37.11 AMI’m quite conservative when it comes to Mourning Doves around the Noble Research Center. This is one locally breeding species that can sometimes be found just hanging out near the building but not really trapped by it as our migrants often are. Our recent fledglings (“local” birds in bird-banding parlance) seem sometimes to seek out these protected places until they become stronger fliers and when i find them thus I almost never document them as “trapped.”

Almost never. Today, I found one of these local Mourning Doves that flew up and away from the north entrance and right into a window in the southeast alcove. Then it flew back toward the north entrance and banged into the windows there again. In all, I watched hit windows (low-speed crashes, but still) three times before it headed off a bit further from the building and out of what I considered immediate danger. Given its behavior, I’m counting it as trapped. There was a second local bird as well, but at no point did it fly into a window or seem in any way impeded by the structure of the building so I did not count that one as a trapped bird.

A more obvious trapped migrant was the Grasshopper Sparrow I found at the north entrance. It took a bit to get that one out of harm’s way too, but ultimately I watched it take off and fly strongly to a spot about 300m north of the NRC from where I hope it can get its bearings and be on its merry way.

13 October 2013 – 2 Clay-colored Sparrows and a trapped Grasshopper Sparrow

It was another big night for migrants here in the Southern Plains.  I found dead Clay-colored Sparrows at the northeastern and southwestern alcoves, and a trapped Grasshopper Sparrow at the northwestern alcove.

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Clay-colored Sparrow #1 was heavy with fat (=3) and looks to be a HY bird.

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Clay-colored #2 had a fat score of 2, and some tiny red ants had colonized it by the time I found it.  I left that one in place to check the removal rate.



The Grasshopper Sparrow was trying desperately to fly east from the northwestern to the northeastern alcove.  It was really wearing itself out.  Thankfully, it was easy to point in the right direction, and it flew well away from the building.


23 April 2012 – Grasshopper Sparrow and bonus Gray Catbird

I found an ASY Grasshopper Sparrow in a west alcove at the NRC this morning.  While processing the bird at my desk, a colleague stepped in with a frozen Gray Catbird that struck a window in his Stillwater home last night.

4 November 2011 – Grasshopper Sparrow and no net loss of Lincoln’s Sparrow

I found this AHY Grasshopper Sparrow (fat = 3) in one of the west alcoves this morning, after a night when temperatures in Stillwater dipped to 23 F.

As for the cryptic headline about Lincoln’s Sparrow, the individual I left in place on Oct. 27th was scavenged overnight.  Here’s what’s left:

So that bird lasted in situ for 9 days.

The “no net loss” comes from discovery of a new Lincoln’s this morning, and this is one I’ve missed for a few days.  How could I miss a dead bird in place for several days when I’m searching an area of lawn and sidewalk?  In this case, it comes down to the where the bird ended up.  It’s so close to the edge of the sidewalk that it’s only visible if approached from the south or east.  My normal walking route approaches this spot from the north, but occasionally I switch things around for exactly this reason.  Even something as simple as the direction of the route you take around a building can affect your ability to detect a bird carcass there.  (I’ll now leave this bird in place and see how long it lasts.)

27 October 2011 – four sparrows hit the end of the road

The four sparrows I found this morning might mark the deadliest evening I’ve seen in three years of searches at the Noble Research Center.  I found birds on three sides of the building after a cool and rainy night.  The first was a bedraggled Lincoln’s Sparrow (fat = 2) that I left in place for a check on scavenging rate.  Elsewhere, I collected these three Grasshopper Sparrows.  The two dry ones on the left were a few feet from each other on the south side of the building, the wet one on the right was in one of the west alcoves.

I aged all three as AHY and all were fat: 3, 3, and 2 from left to right.  Interesting to see the variability in dimensions of these birds, however.  Numbered 1, 2, and 3 from left to right, check it out:

1: 20.5 g, bill 10.6, wing 60, tarsus 23.2

2: 16.5 g, bill 9.2, wing 58, tarsus 21.5

3: 18.0 g, bill 10.4, wing 64, tarsus 22.8