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.
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.
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:
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).
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 . . .
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.
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!
Yesterday (Friday 4/21/17) dawned stormy after an equally stormy night. We picked up nearly 2 inches of rain (+ some hail!) and enjoyed several hours of lightning and thunder. It was dicey enough – and I busy enough – that I skipped Friday’s morning survey.
Saturday, Earth Day (!) was misty, windy, and cool but mostly dry. After a morning field trip, I checked the Noble Research Center and found the fifth Orange-crowned Warbler of the survey. (Recall, that Thursday, 4/20, produced the fourth.) It is tantalizing – and sad! – to think of two birds traveling together and dying together, especially considering that the collision took place at the same spot on the building. I don’t think, however, that this ASY, fat = 0, probable female had been in place since Thursday. She was much too dry to have lain out in the open during Friday’s deluge. So I think she really did come in overnight and if not traveling with Thursday’s male, evidently following a similar route.