Something moved – but did not REmove – the Painted Bunting carcass. It’s now about 10m from the spot where I left it.
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.
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.
May 15th was another odd one, and I’ll be glad when this pulse of window-killed migrants is passed.
On my morning survey, I found a SY male Painted Bunting at the southwestern alcove, and right in front of a treated pane. (The bird off to the left is May 12th’s Indigo Bunting.)
That’s bad enough. The building cost a Painted Bunting and the ABC bird tape apparently did not steer it away from danger.
Then I heard from Dawn Brown later in the day (~3:45 in the afternoon) that she had found and collected a Painted Bunting at the same location. When I got there moments later, the Indigo Bunting was gone (so it was removed sometime during the day on the 15th), and Dawn handed me a bag with this bird inside:
Ugh – a second dead Painted Bunting. This one was more difficult to sex but also clearly an SY bird. Note the beak damage on both individuals.
Two more young Painted Buntings had run-ins with the Noble Research Center today, but at least one survived to tell the tale.
The first bird, an SY male with fat = 2, lay dead about 10m from the main north entrance today.
Once I had him squared away in my pocket, I turned to continue my route and immediately noticed a second SY Painted Bunting. This one, a female, was stunned but pretty feisty once I picked her up.
I took her for a walk across the quad to the trees outside Cordell Hall. She screeched most of the way (a good sign!), and then I placed her in a tree to give her the “perch test”, i.e., is the bird strong/coordinated enough to perch on a branch. She was, and she proved it to me by flying strongly to a neighboring tree and perching just fine, thank you very much.
Some people find this work I do to be a be a bit morbid, and I suppose I do spend a lot of time handing tragically dead birds. But this has also put me in position to save a few dozen birds too, notably a Painted Bunting and Summer Tanager over the last week. Every one of these little birds who flies away from me (instead of falling prey to some cat prowling around the building) makes the time most worthwhile.