10 May 2014 – Clay-colored Sparrow; trapped Painted Bunting and Gray Catbird

Lots to explain today.  First, I’ve got to go all the way back to the Sprague’s Pipit from March of 2010 to find the last casualty near the northernmost entry to the Noble Research Center, i.e., the red dot on the map below:

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I think the fact that casualties do show up in these odd places now and then simply highlights all the more how the various shapes presented by the Noble Research Center play a huge role in the pattern of collisions.  I have conducted hundreds of surveys since 2010 without a single bird dying at that weird spot on the building, but other locations really do seem to draw them in.  More on that in a bit.  Here, though, is the unfortunate Clay-colored Sparrow I found at that spot this morning:

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It’s not much to see, I know.  That’s why I think I overlooked this bird for two days.  It was in pretty good shape, but it wasn’t in immaculate shape. The bird was face down on the ground and had some dried mud splashed up on its back.  This tells me that the bird likely came in Thursday morning during our overnight storms.  Alternatively, it could have gotten wet from the sprinkler system and then subsequently dried.  I’m going with the notion that it was a casualty during the storms and that I missed it for two days.  Anyway, I left it in place to see how long it lasts.

The other two birds I found this morning were exhausted, but very much alive and apparently uninjured. The first was a beautiful female Painted Bunting trapped in the southwest alcove.  She was slow enough for me to catch her and I released her into a tree away from the building where she flew on her own and seemed to perch just fine. She was carrying zero fat, so I’m hoping that she can find an easy meal.

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I’m a little more worried about this Gray Catbird at the very-busy-this-week northwest alcove.  This bird was active enough that I couldn’t catch it, but it also didn’t fly more than a foot or so off the ground and any farther than about 10 m at a time.  I herded it out to beneath a tree where a robin was foraging so maybe it too will find some food quickly.  I won’t count either of these birds as casualties – unless I find them again tomorrow.  These are the days when I feel the greatest reward for the methodical daily surveys I do. Any day I can help keep a Painted Bunting going a little bit longer on this earth seems like a good day to me.

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8 May 2014 – Gray Catbird

I found this bedraggled Gray Catbird at the northwest alcove of the Noble Research Center this morning, following a highly unusual event overnight: rain.

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The bird appeared to be second-year, and not carrying any discernible fat.  Sex wasn’t obvious either; that will have to wait until I have time to take a closer look during specimen preparation.  This is just the second catbird I’ve found at the NRC.  Catbirds are not that easy to find in Stillwater.

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