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.

 

 

15 May 2017 – Two SY Painted Buntings

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.

10 May 2017 – Painted Bunting and Nashville Warbler

Today I found a SY Painted Bunting at the main north entrance and a Nashville Warbler at the northwestern alcove.

 

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17 May 2016 -Painted Bunting

I found yet another Painted Bunting at the NRC this morning; this time a SY female was the victim. She didn’t have much fat, but otherwise she was in fine condition. Of course, she was a bit damp from this morning’s drizzle, so I put her in front of the fan for a couple of hours to dry her out.

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11 May 2016 – 2 Painted Buntings

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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.

 

8 May 2016 – Tandem Painted Buntings

Today there were 2 Painted Buntings, both second-year males with 0 fat, dead on arrival at the main north entrance of the Noble Research Center.  I left the left one in situ for a scavenging/removal trial.

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16 May 2015 – Nashville Warbler and a 3rd Painted Bunting

For the 3rd consecutive day I’ve found a SY Painted Bunting at the Noble Research Center.  This one looks to be SY female with fat = 0, and was lying out in the open at the northwest alcove.

Also today there was a SY male Nashville Warbler at the main north entrance.  This one was fat (2) and appeared to be in excellent shape, save for the impact marks on its bill that signal a violent, but perhaps mercilessly quick, end to its brief life.

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The bright yellow-green rump on this bird suggests the western subspecies to me . . .

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Nashville Warblers don't mess with Painted Buntings.

Nashville Warblers don’t mess with Painted Buntings.

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Note impact marks on tip of bill.

Note impact marks on tip of bill.

Rufous crown coming in . . .

Rufous crown coming in . . .