28 September 2017 – Our first Savannah Sparrow, a trapped yellowthroat, and some bonus birds

Since Monday night, we seem to have received at least 5 inches of rain here in Stillwater.  That’s great as I’ve been lamenting the lack of even clouds for a few weeks. The system that brought the rain might have kept birds bottled up to our north because once it cleared last night (Wed.) there was one heck of a flight.

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Of course, attempts to correlate window collision mortality with big radar echoes of migrating birds are fraught with confirmation bias.  There are plenty of big flights that result in no dead birds on my rounds, and I’m a lot more likely to check “last night’s radar” on a morning when I find multiple casualties.  Today was one of those days.

I walked to the Noble Research Center on a route that took me past the long row of windows on the southern side of the Food and Agricultural Products Building, aka, FAPC. This is just across a parking lot from the NRC and I’ve made several incidental finds there.  Today, these “bonus birds” numbered three: an Ovenbird, a Common Yellowthroat (collected) and, around the corner, a female Indigo Bunting that had been there for at least a few days. So before I even made it to the NRC, I encountered 3 window-killed birds.

The yellowthroat was an apparent AHY-male, with fat = 2 and weighing in at 12 g.

 

At the NRC was another surprise.  Surprisingly, after all these years and considering how common these birds are as migrants and wintering residents, I found the project’s first Savannah Sparrow, in the northwest alcove.

 

 

There was also a trapped Common Yellowthroat at the main north entrance and another Savannah sparrow flitting around – through not trapped – just west of the southern portico entrance. The Savannah Sparrow was AHY-U, weighing 18g with a fat score = 2.

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7 August 2017 – Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Well that didn’t take long.  Here’s a HY male Ruby-throated Hummingbird I found this morning at the main north entrance.

On an even more sombre note, this was unofficially the 300th casualty on this project.

Spring/Summer 2017 was busy

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.

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Beginning Mar 1st, here’s what has turned up at the Noble Research Center.

Dead Birds

  1. Indigo Bunting – 5
  2. Painted Bunting – 5
  3. Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 3
  4. Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
  5. Mourning Dove – 2
  6. Nashville Warbler – 2
  7. Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
  8. Baltimore Oriole – 1
  9. Chipping Sparrow – 1
  10. Eastern Meadowlark – 1
  11. House Wren – 1
  12. Northern Parula – 1
  13. Tennessee Warbler – 1
  14. 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:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Common Yellowthroat
  3. Mourning Dove
  4. Song Sparrow
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Carolina Wren

 

 

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.

7 May 2017 – Indigo Bunting and trapped Yellow Warbler

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.)

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Let’s take a closer look at that Indigo Bunting:

 

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).

6 May 2017 – Baltimore Oriole, Mourning Dove, and House Wren

Today was one of those “just when I think I have this figured out” days.

As I was rounding the west perimeter of the Noble Research Center between the southwest and northwest alcoves, some feathers caught my eye up against the brick side of the building.  This is the first time (in nearly 8 years) I found a bird at this spot and it was also pretty clearly one new to the study: a bright orange and black Baltimore Oriole, or at least a nice pile of feather remnants from what had lately been an adult male (ASY) Baltimore Oriole.

Though for consistency’s sake I’ll record that spot on the building as the location of collision, I in fact don’t know where the bird hit.  All I know is that a predator (and very likely a cat based on the neatly sheared primaries) appears to have eaten said oriole at that spot.

 

 

Around the corner and into the northwest alcove, I found the remnants of a scavenged adult Mourning Dove. Here again was a bird in a very odd location. Strangely enough, the bird was in the exact location (beneath an ornamental buttonbush) where collaborator and OSU PhD student Corey Riding had the week before left a Cedar Waxwing carcass for a scavenging trial.  Corey, however, had left neither a dove, an oriole, nor anything else at that spot since the waxwing. Puzzling for sure . . .

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Finally, there was another bird at the end of the alcove in front of one of the untreated panes. Here was another oddity – a House Wren.

 

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28 April 2017 – Indigo Bunting

Sad to think that this spectacular specimen of an ASY male (fat = 2) Indigo Bunting safely crossed the Gulf of Mexico a few days ago but could not safely navigate the Noble Research Center.

 

 

Indigo Buntings, of course, have no blue pigment.  Blue is produced by birds through light reflectance – it’s structural color, not pigment.

You might think, then, that Indigo Buntings would look really cool in UV light.  They don’t, unless you think charcoal looks cool!

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