23 July 2018 – Painted Bunting

All carcasses remain in place, and I was saddened to discover this new one: a second-year male Painted Bunting at the main north entrance.

As the molt sequences in this species defy my ability to explain in a coherent fashion, suffice it to say that this was a male Painted Bunting born in 2017. He spent his first winter somewhere in Mexico or Central America and returned to the Great Plains to attempt his first breeding season this spring & summer of 2018. Along the way, he molted some feathers, but he had not taken on the dazzling blue and scarlet and citron of an older male, i.e., one more than two years old. He looks to have been beginning that process, however: Check out the blue feathers coming in on the face and crown and the contrast between the green-edged secondaries that have grown in more recently and the dull browns of his primaries that were the set he grew while in the nest last year.

This poor guy was probably on his way to northwestern Mexico where he would take advantage of the monsoon-driven flush of productivity to give him the fuel to finally replace those primaries in August and September. Then he would head down further south to spend the actual winter before coming back here next May.

Alas, he didn’t make it – all because of a stupid window.


5 May 2018 – Great Crested Flycatcher

I was out of town for a few days in May, and Corey Riding graciously offered to keep tabs on monitoring in my absence. On his first survey (and with his kids helping out as ace field technicians!), Corey added a new species to the list of unfortunate victims at the Noble Research Center: Great Crested Flycatcher. This is the 63rd species confirmed as a casualty at the NRC since I began this project in August of 2009.

Those most would not recognize it, the Great Crested Flycatcher is an abundant breeding bird of deciduous forests in eastern temperate North America, where its loud, burry “wheeEEP!” call is a characteristic sound of summer. Though they nest in and feed from large trees, Great Crested Flycatchers do not need deep forest cover, and in many places will breed in suburban neighborhoods that are well-treed. That is the case here in Stillwater, and this is one of those species that has been conspicuously absent from the roll of window collision victims at the NRC, given that they can be found nesting within about 1 km of the building.

Corey identified the bird as an AHY-F, given presence of a brood patch. He assigned her a fat score of 3 on the 0–7 scale, which is a 2 on my simpler 0–3 scale. This equates to the furcular hollow about half full. Corey also assessed pectoralis fullness on the 0–5 MAPS scale, and assessed the bird to have maximum pectoralis development of 5, with the muscle bulging outwards and away from the keel. Here again was a fine, healthy bird in its prime that just happened to not recognize a glass barrier for a crucial instant in its life. She was found in the corner of the southwestern alcove.

4 October 2015 – Clay-colored Sparrow

Autumn arrived with a thud for this poor Clay-colored Sparrow today.  It was one of the fattest of these little sparrows I’ve ever seen (easily a 3 on my 0–3 scale), which was impressive for a youngster:  HY-U.

DSCF8893 DSCF8894Screen shot 2015-10-04 at 2.22.26 PM

28 September 2012: Lincoln’s Sparrow and Whip-poor-will

This morning, this Lincoln’s Sparrow was the unfortunate first victim of the season on the south side of the building.  This individual was beautiful and fresh, with a fat score  = 3.

Today I also found the scavenged remnants (two tail feathers and a few contour feathers) of the 42nd species I’ve been able to confirm as a casualty at the Noble Research Center since 2009: an Eastern Whip-poor-will.

The two rectrices (tail feathers) at left are diagnostic for an adult (AHY) female Whip-poor-will, a first for the study.

Whip-poor-will is a surprising find for the study – to say the least.  In my time in Oklahoma, I’ve yet to hear a Whip-poor-will.  We seem to be all Chuck-wills-widows around here, and Whips seem to be confined to our easternmost counties.  Here’s an eBird map for Whip reports in the month of September for the past 10 years: