30 April 2017 – no casualties, but some dead birds

A powerful cold front with rotating bands of heavy rain moved into the Plains this weekend, leaving Stillwater waterlogged with nearly 6″ of rain.  Snow accumulated in the Panhandle and, here in central Oklahoma, icy winds from the South kept temps from rising much higher than the low 50s F.

Several of us got to experience this weird watery weather all day long, as we braved those elements to participate in the Audubon Birdathon Big Day.  Bands (squalls, really) of cold rain and occasional sleet swept through every 30 minutes or so throughout the day. It was cold, it was wet, and the Cimarron filled its banks and then some.  Shorebirding was excellent, but the birds were in flooded fields as there certainly wasn’t any exposed mudflat for foraging.

We ended the day with a quite respectable 126 species, but it was a tough day for many of these birds.  There were a few grim reminders that hard spring weather can rapidly turn deadly:

I’d been following this Mourning Dove that had nested in last year’s robin’s nest near the main north entrance of the Noble Research Center:

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That sturdy adobe nest blew out of its tree in the wee morning hours of 4/29, and mama Mourning Dove wasn’t quite ready to give up on her eggs in the afternoon.

We found 14 (!) Soras at one site on the 30th, and a few days later I found this unfortunate one that died in a window collision at Eagle Heights Baptist Church:

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The saddest case, however, had to be this one:  Carolina Chickadees in one of my nest boxes were trying to fledge during that horrible weather on the 30th.  A few of them made it – or at least made it outside the box and were promptly snatched up by my local Cooper’s Hawks – but at least one did not.  A few days later, I checked the box to find these contents – a dead nestling and one of its parents, presumably the mother. Near as I can tell, the adult was in the box brooding the youngster and they both succumbed to the elements (or were killed but not retrieved by the Coops). I’ll never know the real cause of death, but either directly or indirectly, the rain squalls of Apr. 30th seem to have played a role.

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2 November 2016 – at first no casualties, but then . . .

I received a message of a Carolina Chickadee dead at the southwestern alcove that was found late morning/early afternoon.  This one looked like a HY-U bird, and it was at least a 2 on my fat score index. It seemed odd to me that a chickadee would be laying down fat at this time of year – and we’re still having daytime temps in the 80s – but there just seems to be a lot more movement of chickadees than we (or at least, I) had generally realized.

This bird was another victim of a window pane treated with ABC’s bird tape.

 

7 June 2016 – Carolina Chickadee

“It’s early June – I bet that’s a female with a brood patch.”

Indeed it was.

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13 October 2014 – Lincoln’s Sparrow and Carolina Chickadee

Here we are in another autumn migration with birds showing up dead at the south entrance.  It was certainly a shame to see this vibrant bird (fat = 3) cut down and reduced to ant food on a brick walkway beneath the serenade of befouling starlings under the eaves of the Noble Research Center.  This bird might have started its life in some glorious boreal bog in Canada.

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With an origin likely somewhere in Stillwater, this Carolina Chickadee (fat = 2) was the second casualty today.  This bird was at the bottom of the stairwell at the northeast alcove, providing further evidence that our skunk, if local, is not very good at this scavenging thing.

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26 September 2014 – Carolina Chickadee and Common Yellowthroat

I was in Colorado for a conference last week, and grateful that in my absence the Loss Lab’s Corey Riding and his band of merry building-checking undergraduates covered for me at the Noble Research Center.  On 26 September, technician Cooper Sherrill found a Carolina Chickadee at the southeast alcove and a Common Yellowthroat at the northwestern alcove.

Yellowthroat at the northwestern alcove; chickadee at the southeastern.

Yellowthroat at the northwestern alcove; chickadee at the southeastern.

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26 June 2014 – Carolina Chickadee

With apologies for the poor photo, this Carolina Chickadee appears to have been engaged in some post-breeding dispersal when she died.  She was a female by brood patch, and an apparent ASY bird with fat = 1.

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9 July 2013 – Painted Bunting and Carolina Chickadee

Casualties continue at the Noble Research Center this week.  Today (actually July 10th) I checked and noticed these birds here since yesterday, so I’m considering them the results of a July 9th survey that I technically did not conduct. Again, we had two birds of different species killed at the same spot on the NRC – the main entrance on the north side.

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The first bird I noticed was the Carolina Chickadee, lying within arms’ reach of the Indigo Bunting I left out the other day:

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About 2 m to the left of the chickadee was this female Painted Bunting:

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Both birds were deteriorated (by beetles, isopods, and ants) to the point at which I wasn’t comfortable examining them for additional aging and body condition criteria.