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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19 August 2017 – Painted Bunting

I actually discovered it on my 8/20 survey, but this poor little bird on the 20th was already seething with maggots so I’m comfortable calling it an 8/19 casualty. This was a second year male.  Check out the feather wear on his primaries.  He was headed south to molt and then continue on further south.

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

 

 

13 June 2017 – Painted Bunting

It’s mid-June and, like clockwork, I found a lady songbird today who looks to have been involved in some post-breeding dispersal.  This one was a Painted Bunting, an ASY-female with a brood patch at the southeastern alcove.

 

At this weird building that is the Noble Research Center, I don’t find many local birds dead at the glass.  There are no feeders, for example. It’s also not a spot that attracts a lot of baby birds.  No, here it’s pretty obvious that migrants are the source of the great majority of the 30–40 victims here each year, with big peaks in mortality during October and May.  There is another, smaller peak, however.

That third peak is “June”.  For some reason, after the collisions of the northbound migrants have died down by the end of May, birds start showing up again in mid-June.  These include migrants as well as local breeders like chickadees and titmice. What’s more, it’s common for these individuals to be females that have recently bred, judging from their brood patches.

Apparently, I am capturing at this site evidence of post-breeding dispersal in females.  It is not clear if these birds are looking for a new mate and territory or if they are dispersing to some specific place to molt. It is also not clear if this post-breeding dispersal involves successful or unsuccessful breeding attempts. With respect to today’s bird, however, I have to assume the latter.

Painted Buntings do not arrive here until the first week or so of May. With another week or so of finding a partner, territorial jostling, etc., that means they aren’t even beginning to nest until mid-May, i.e., about 4 weeks ago. It’s possible for a pair to have raised a brood in 4 weeks I suppose, but if so it would be odd for a female to skip town with fledglings fresh out of the nest.  Thus, it’s more likely that she was dispersing today following a failed breeding attempt.