10 July 2017 – Eastern Meadowlark

Monday dawned bright but soon turned sombre when I encountered the study’s first meadowlark (61st species; presumably Eastern) at the northeastern alcove. Worse, it was a baby: HY-U.  Worse still: it was alive but mortally wounded and suffering greatly.  It was having spasms, was unable to hold its head up, panting heavily, and bleeding through its bill, which was bent at the tip from the collision.

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This is the reality of the catastrophic but not immediately fatal injuries that millions of birds endure every year. For those of us who dedicate our time to count them, we must be prepared to come face-to-face with some of our favorite creatures sometimes in the throes of a horrible and painful death.  Sometimes we are even faced with the decision to intervene and usher in a more swift and merciful death than the one being endured. So that’s how my Monday morning began: euthanasia via thoracic compression of a baby meadowlark enduring unimaginable pain and fear.

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The meadowlark did not recover from its window collision today, and I’m not sure I will either.

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30 June 2017 – three casualties

I was out of town from 21–30 June and no surveys were run during that time.  On June 30th, however, I heard from Dawn Brown and Corey Riding that there were three casualties at the southwestern alcove of the Noble Research Center: a badly decayed Northern Parula (adult male), a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and a female (with brood patch!) Indigo Bunting.  It’s possible that the bunting came in on the 30th, but the others were clearly killed prior to that date. (Photos by Dawn Brown.) This is officially the first Northern Parula found on the project.

13 June 2017 – Painted Bunting

It’s mid-June and, like clockwork, I found a lady songbird today who looks to have been involved in some post-breeding dispersal.  This one was a Painted Bunting, an ASY-female with a brood patch at the southeastern alcove.

 

At this weird building that is the Noble Research Center, I don’t find many local birds dead at the glass.  There are no feeders, for example. It’s also not a spot that attracts a lot of baby birds.  No, here it’s pretty obvious that migrants are the source of the great majority of the 30–40 victims here each year, with big peaks in mortality during October and May.  There is another, smaller peak, however.

That third peak is “June”.  For some reason, after the collisions of the northbound migrants have died down by the end of May, birds start showing up again in mid-June.  These include migrants as well as local breeders like chickadees and titmice. What’s more, it’s common for these individuals to be females that have recently bred, judging from their brood patches.

Apparently, I am capturing at this site evidence of post-breeding dispersal in females.  It is not clear if these birds are looking for a new mate and territory or if they are dispersing to some specific place to molt. It is also not clear if this post-breeding dispersal involves successful or unsuccessful breeding attempts. With respect to today’s bird, however, I have to assume the latter.

Painted Buntings do not arrive here until the first week or so of May. With another week or so of finding a partner, territorial jostling, etc., that means they aren’t even beginning to nest until mid-May, i.e., about 4 weeks ago. It’s possible for a pair to have raised a brood in 4 weeks I suppose, but if so it would be odd for a female to skip town with fledglings fresh out of the nest.  Thus, it’s more likely that she was dispersing today following a failed breeding attempt.

 

 

31 May 2017 – Indigo Bunting

Chalk up another second-year male Indigo Bunting as a window-kill victim at the Noble Research Center. This bird had fat = 1 and CP = 2.

14 May 2017 – Tennessee Warbler

Here’s another weird one and another first for the project: Tennessee Warbler at the southwestern corner of the Noble Research Center.

13 May 2017 – Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Haley Butler tipped me off to this Yellow-billed Cuckoo she found at the southeastern alcove of the Noble Research Center on the afternoon of 12 May. By the time I got there to check on the morning of the 13th, the cuckoo had been scavenged, evidently by a cat.

12 May 2017 – Indigo Bunting

Will Jessie alerted me to this SY male Indigo Bunting at the southwestern alcove. I left the bird in place for several days (and the ants had gotten to it before I did).