29 August 2019 – Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, and Wilson’s Warbler

Tough morning with three casualties at the Noble Research Center: there was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the southwestern alcove and flanking Wilson’s and Yellow warblers at the main north entrance.

24 May 2018 – Wilson’s Warbler

Although there were no casualties on my survey, Aurora Manley’s sharp eyes found this AHY-M Wilson’s Warbler later in the day. The bird was alive when she encountered it, but her description of its behavior and the photos she provided suggest to me that the poor little guy didn’t make it.

27 September 2017 – Wilson’s Warbler

This 9.5 g, fat = 3, AHY-male Wilson’s Warbler met his sad end at the southwest alcove last night.

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18 September 2017 – Wilson’s Warbler

The Mourning Dove remained intact this morning. There was also an apparent AHY female Wilson’s Warbler at the southeastern alcove. She was fat (=3) and healthy at 9g.

6 September 2014 – 2 Wilson’s Warblers amidst a major fallout

Our first decent cold front of the summer came through last night just as the sun was going down, and this one brought some actual rain.  Thus, by about 9:00 pm, conditions were ripe for a major fallout of migrants as the ceiling lowered and the rain and storms moved in.  At time of writing, we’ve now had about 13 hours of steady rain. From Paul Hurtado’s radar ornithology page, these images show the impressive flight underway last night and the rain slicing through central Oklahoma that was forcing birds down.

Composite radar image from just after 9:00 pm last night.  Check out the impressive flight going on especially along the western shore of Lake Michigan.

Composite radar image from just after 9:00 pm last night. Check out the impressive flight going on especially west of Lake Michigan.

In this image from about 7:00 this morning, the rain hasn't really moved but the birds have put down for the day.

In this image from about 7:00 this morning, the rain hasn’t really moved but the birds have largely put down for the day.

While that rain was starting up last night, I heard an Upland Sandpiper and multiple Dickcissels passing over. This morning at dawn, Common Nighthawks were flying around my neighborhood, and the Dickcissel flight calls were incessant.

By about 9:00 am, I had walked into campus (about a mile from my house) and already found a road-killed Sora.  At the NRC, there were numerous Chimney Swifts flying about, and the usual European Starlings and Great-tailed Grackles.  I also found two Mourning Warblers not quite trapped at the main north entrance to the NRC, and some other warblers moving through the trees.  The steady rain and my lack of binocs made positive ID difficult.

Sadly, I had no problem identifying the two casualties I found at the building today:  both male Wilson’s Warblers and both in excellent condition for migration, bulging with fat in the furcular hollow and on the belly (fat = 3). One (the HY male – just a few months old) was at the southeast alcove and one (the AHY male – at least 13 or 14 months old) at the southwest. 

Screen shot 2014-09-06 at 10.37.11 AM

The little dears were pretty waterlogged, so they spent some time in front of my space heater this morning.

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AHY male Wilson's Warbler

AHY male Wilson’s Warbler

AHY male Wilson's Warbler

AHY male Wilson’s Warbler

HY male Wilson's Warbler

HY male Wilson’s Warbler

HY male Wilson's Warbler

HY male Wilson’s Warbler

HY (left) and AHY (right) male Wilson's Warblers illustrating the progressive change in the extent and evenness of shiny black color as these birds mature.  Had the bird on the left survived to next year at this time, he would've gone through a complete molt next summer that would leave him looking a lot more like the male on the right.

HY (left) and AHY (right) male Wilson’s Warblers illustrating the progressive change in the extent and evenness of shiny black color as these birds mature. Had the bird on the left survived to next year at this time, he would’ve gone through a complete molt next summer that would leave him looking a lot more like the male on the right.

 

 

3 September 2013 – Wilson’s Warbler

Hatch-year female; fat  = 2.

We had a big flight last night, on the heels of a decent cold front.  Sadly, this Wilson’s Warbler failed in her first attempt to make it to Mexico for the winter.

DSCF4016 DSCF4019 Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 8.33.10 AM Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 8.29.50 AM

A Year in the Death – Aug. 2009–Aug. 2010

On August 20th, I completed a full year of regular surveys for window-killed birds at the Noble Research Center. Here are some vital statistics for August 20 2009–August 20 2010:

Effort.
I conducted (occasionally with help from assistants like Danielle Benson) 153 surveys over the full year of monitoring. This equates to an average of 2.39 days between surveys.

Coverage was irregular throughout the year. For example I did no monitoring in January 2010. For this reason, analysis of casualties by season must be viewed through the lens of dissimilarities in sampling effort among the seasons. I defined sampling effort as the number of surveys per days in a given season. I defined seasons as follows: Dec. 1–Mar. 20 (110 days) = “winter,” Mar. 21–May 20 (61 d) = “spring,” May 21–Aug. 19 (91 d) = “summer,” and Aug. 20–Nov. 30 (102 d) = “autumn.” The 11 winter surveys provided an effort of 0.10. This approximates 10 days on average between surveys. Effort indices were 0.87 for spring (53 surveys in 61 days), 0.44 for summer, and 0.48 for autumn. Thus effort was most consistent during spring with near daily surveys.

Data.
I recorded window strike mortality for 38 individuals of 22 different species over the year of monitoring. This rate of collision mortality places the NRC on par with other high-mortality buildings referenced in Klem 1990 and O’Connell 2001.

Of the 38 casualties, 5 were “local” (i.e., recently-fledged offspring of local breeders), 5 were “hatch year” birds (i.e., “immature”, or birds < 1 yr. old), and 28 were adults or of undetermined age.

Of the the 38 casualties, 8 were identifiable as male, 5 as female, and 25 were of undetermined sex.

I encountered more casualties during spring and fall migration periods than in winter or summer (though effort may have played a role in this result):

As in O’Connell 2001, Neotropical migrants in passage comprised the greatest percentage of individuals among all casualties. The birds dying at the NRC are not local residents that commonly occur in the OSU campus. These are transient individuals traveling long distances that just happen to meet their end here. (Note that the number of resident individuals among the casualties is inflated by the fact that 5 of the 7 casualties were recently fledged mourning doves and northern cardinals.)

Non-lethal collisions.
On at least four occasions, I encountered live birds that appeared to be trapped near a window but were not injured from a collision. These individuals are not included in the collision data, but they may have been had I not been there to flush them away from the windows and encourage them to move along:
9/22/09: Grasshopper Sparrow and suspected Swainson’s Thrush
10/19/09: Grasshopper Sparrow
11/2/09: Two Dark-eyed Juncos
6/21/10: Carolina Wren

Scavenging rate.
The scavenging rate proved to be unpredictable over the year. For example, some carcasses left in place remained visible for several weeks and were untouched during that time. Others were identifiable only from feathers left behind of a carcass that, based on the timing of my most recent survey, had been scavenged just a few hours after the bird’s unfortunate collision. Further confounding the interpretation of scavenging rates, some carcasses were scavenged but readily identifiable feathers of the carcass were left behind and still in evidence long after scavenging. For example, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo that I found on 6 June 2010 was scavenged on 15 June. As of 3 September 2010, that bird’s primaries are still readily apparent at the location where I first found it on June 10th, approximately 86 days after the bird’s death.


Scavenged Swainson’s Thrush.

I found evidence of 15 scavenged carcasses over the year. Thus, out of 38 total casualties, 39% were ultimately scavenged. (Of course, I collected the majority of the carcasses I found, most of which were fresh and in excellent condition and were photographed for entries in this blog. Presumably, a high percentage of these would ultimately have been scavenged.) Two carcasses were scavenged on day 0 and three were scavenged after just one day in situ. Four were in evidence for at least 30 days; the average number of days a carcass was apparent in place was 18.6 – nearly 8 times the length of time between consecutive surveys. Thus, the regular, frequent surveys provided ample opportunity to discover carcasses before they were removed or no longer visible. In addition, the most frequent condition of freshly scavenged carcasses of warbler-sized birds was a pile of remiges cleanly sheared off near the base of the feathers. Thus, even small birds were usually left in place after scavenging; this increased the probability that I would find the carcass even if it had been scavenged. Nonetheless, it is likely that at least some individuals were scavenged and removed from the site before I could document the casualty, so mortality rates calculated from my surveys must be viewed as underestimates of actual mortality.

Total data.
The following table lists all the species found as window collision casualties at the Noble Research Center, 8/20 2009–8/20 2010:

species number
Common Yellowthroat 5
Mourning Dove 5
Lincoln’s Sparrow 4
Black-and-White Warbler 3
Grasshopper Sparrow 3
Painted Bunting 2
Mourning Warbler 1
Gray Catbird 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Canada Warbler 1
Indigo Bunting 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Sprague’s Pipit 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Orchard Oriole 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Carolina Wren 1

O’Connell2001

12 September 2009

I was a way for a couple of days, and unable to check the NRC until Sep. 12th. Casualties were:

1 Gray Catbird – badly decomposed
1 Grasshopper Sparrow – ditto
1 Wilson’s Warbler
wils_pusi_AllAm_map