The darkness of these photos illustrates how rainy and gloomy we were when this poor Orange-crowned Warbler met its end at the northeastern alcove. This bird was removed/scavenged on 7 May.
I haven’t analyzed this, but there have been many occasions that some unusual casualty will show up and another will appear on its heels – or on the same day. These events make me wonder about pairs migrating together or, at the very least, individuals from the same regions departing at about the same time and following similar routes. How else would we explain the 9th and 10th Orange-crowned Warblers hitting the same building less than 24 hours apart?
We had a serious cold front move through on November 11–12, dropping temperatures and a decent inch or so of snow. This was unusual in that we’ve pretty much had snowless winters for the past couple of years (a couple of ice storms and no more) and that it happened so early in the season. We were probably a week or so ahead of peak autumn color here; now all of those leaves are stuck to the trees and browning. Although brief, it was a hard freeze. Birds were caught a bit unawares too, as the results of today’s survey suggest.
First, there was a Lincoln’s Sparrow in an odd spot, along the northern exterior wall. This bird looks like it had been there for a bit, like maybe it had been buried under the snow and I had missed it.
Next was an Orange-crowned Warbler (AHY-male) in the northwest alcove.
I’ve been behind with stacks of papers to grade, and they’ve kept me from keeping up as often as I’d prefer. During the period from October 7–18, I conducted 8 surveys, skipping Oct. 8, 14, and 15. The data from these last 11 days look a bit like this:
- Oct. 7: HOWR
- Oct. 9: no casualties
- Oct. 10: no casualties
- Oct. 11: LISP
- Oct. 12: TUTI
- Oct. 13: no casualties
- Oct. 16: OCWA, SOSP, LISP, and NAWA
- Oct. 17: no casualties
- Oct. 18: no casualties
Just past mid-October, and we are crushing the annual mortality count right now with 55 dead birds.
Oct. 7 – I found just the third House Wren on the project. This one ended up on a warm air outflow grate from the air conditioning unit and was quickly desiccated.
Oct. 11 – I collected this Lincoln’s Sparrow from the south portico.
Oct. 12 – This Tufted Titmouse was a surprise in the southwestern alcove.
Oct. 16 – This was not a good day for migrants. I found an Orange-crowned Warbler at the northeast alcove, a Song Sparrow at the south portico, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow at the southwestern alcove. Shortly after completing my survey, a Nashville Warbler was turned in from a collision in the southwestern alcove.
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.
Surprisingly, the 277th casualty on this project was just the 4th Orange-crowned Warbler, which is a common migrant here in central OK. This one was an ASY male with fat = 1. I first spotted him from about 80m away.
Check out this guy’s truncated rectrices, blunt-tipped primary coverts, and his pointed primaries:
The most exciting thing about him, though, is that this old guy actually had an orange crown. I’ve never seen one so orange, which makes me wonder if this fellow was closer to 10 years old than merely “ASY”. It is so sad to see such a vibrant, mature, elder statesman of a warbler cut down by something so stupid as a window. He deserved better.
It felt like a big flight overnight, with migrant flight calls every time I walked outside. At least one of those migrants was this unfortunate little Orange-crowned Warbler:
This was an AHY-U bird with fat = 2. As evident from the photo, this bird in the southwestern alcove appears not to have been saved by ABC Bird Tape.
I found this feisty little warbler at the southwest alcove and released him to a nearby oak where he flew pretty strongly from my hand, scolding me the entire time. Although it looks pretty Tennessee-y, the yellow undertail coverts you can’t see in the photos indicate Orange-crowned (although I’m happy to be corrected on that by those who might have more experience with these species).
I found a Good Samaritan carrying something in her scarf when I rounded the corner of the southwest alcove this morning, and I flagged her down to see what she had. It was a feisty Orange-crowned Warbler (fat = 2) that looked to be in pretty good shape. I took it to a nearby tree where it could just about perch, but then I decided it would be a bit safer at ground level so I moved it there beneath the tree. At this point the bird looked to be in worse shape and it was a lot less feisty. It was a toss-up for me to count this bird as a casualty or not; just to play the odds I decided to count it as a trapped bird rather than a casualty. About 5 hours later, it was gone.
On a cloudy morning after a nighttime football game that shone bright lights on low clouds, there were birds left behind at the Noble Research Center. The first I found was this hatch-year Clay-colored Sparrow (fat = 2):
Then there were 3-4 birds trapped around the north entrance, including a House Wren. Is this the same little guy hanging around for weeks?
There was an obviously stunned Orange-crowned Warbler as well. The bird was sitting low and unresponsive, but it perked up when I picked it up.
The bird looks okay above. Had it remained this way I would’ve counted it as merely “trapped”. When I set it down, however, the bird did not fly away and it actually had trouble standing. For cases like this – in which a trapped bird has trouble standing – my policy is to consider the bird as a casualty. I’ll be interested in checking tomorrow to see if my suspicions are correct.