As I’m about to head out for a conference this week, spring and summer monitoring comes to a close. I’ll begin August 2017 the 9th consecutive year of (mostly) daily monitoring for window casualties at the Noble Research Center on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.
It’s been a busy spring.
Beginning Mar 1st, here’s what has turned up at the Noble Research Center.
Indigo Bunting – 5
Painted Bunting – 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
Mourning Dove – 2
Nashville Warbler – 2
Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
Baltimore Oriole – 1
Chipping Sparrow – 1
Eastern Meadowlark – 1
House Wren – 1
Northern Parula – 1
Tennessee Warbler – 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
That’s 28 individuals of 14 species, and damn, that is disheartening.
On the plus side, my commitment to checking almost every day has put me in position to save a few birds by getting them safely away from the building and taking them someplace secure to rest and recuperate for a bit. I can’t guarantee that all 6 of these survived the ordeal, but they seemed to be in good shape when I last saw them:
With special guest stars James O’Connell and David Mallen, today’s survey turned up a male Indigo Bunting and a trapped Yellow Warbler at the main north entrance. (No photo of the warbler; it was a male.)
Let’s take a closer look at that Indigo Bunting:
He’s pretty blue, but his molt limits reveal him to be a second year (SY) male.
Those three big feather visible on the folded wing are the tertials (aka, secondaries 7, 8, and 9 from outer to inner.
Tertials from above. On the right wing, 7 and 9 are brownish and worn but 8 is fresh and blue/black. Tert #8 has been replaced but 7 and 9 are originals from when this bird was a baby last summer. On the left wing, 8 and 9 have been replaced but #7 is original.
Paper plate and packing tape makes it a bit easier to see some things.
Left wing: alulua, greater coverts, secondaries 5 and 6, and terts 8 and 9 have been replaced. Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries 1,2,3,4, and 7 are orignal.
Close-up of head showing trauma to lower mandible from collision.
The multiple obvious molt limits on this bird illustrate two generations of feathers on the same individual, some of which grew in last summer and some which have come in quite recently. This confirms the age of the bird as second year (SY).
We’ve been experienced severe heat and drought in Oklahoma this summer. As of yesterday, Oklahoma City has logged 45 days with temperatures in excess of 100 F, and daily high temperature records have been dropping left and right – usually by several degrees. Yesterday we reached 108, but finally we had a cold front move through the region, spurring strong storms. The gust front from these storms apparently exceeded 90 mph in various places, and many neighborhoods in Stillwater have sustained more damage than we’ve seen in our recent tornadoes.
Given that we’ve now entered the second week of August and there was a decent tailwind following the storms, I wasn’t that surprised to find an unfortunate migrant at the Noble Research Center this morning. This is a Yellow Warbler, apparently an AHY female. Fat = 2.
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: