This was an interesting case. I received a message late morning yesterday (thank you, OSU undergrad Cassandra Rodenbaugh) that there was a dead Lincoln’s Sparrow at the Noble Research Center in a highly conspicuous location. The bird was not there when I conducted my daily survey around 7:30 am, so it must have flown in since then. Normally, I might have dropped what I was doing to go collect the bird, but I wanted to check first with Scott Loss who, with his PhD student Corey Riding, are using data from the Noble Research Center for a more expansive study of window-collision mortality. One of their current objectives is to check buildings for collision victims at different times during the day to address biases associated with survey time. They have also been engaged in calculating scavenger removal rates and identifying scavengers using camera traps.
We decided that the best course of action would be for me to pretend I did not know about the bird and simply go about my business checking the NRC this morning as usual. Corey and his team noted the casualty on their afternoon and evening surveys, and I saw from about 75m away as I walked to my car last night.
Despite this fresh, juicy, healthy Lincoln’s Sparrow sitting out in a highly conspicuous location on a sidewalk just outside a door, and despite the fact that I just photographed a cat at the NRC two days ago, there was the Lincoln’s Sparrow when I conducted my survey this morning:
Other than the tiny ants getting to its eyeballs, the bird was untouched. I have recorded it and will analyze it as a 4/23 casualty, even though we know that it was really a 4/22 (Earth Day) casualty. If the bird’s condition was any indication of others I’ve collected in a similar state (i.e., immaculate, but for some ant damage), then this suggests that several others I have collected as “day 0” birds might already have persisted unscavenged for the better part of a day.
The sparrow’s rects seemed fairly worn and tapered but I found no molt limit on this bird so I’m hesitant to commit to an age any more specific than AHY. The bird was in fine shape for migration with fat = 2. A close examination of the bill tip will reveal an injury that suggests it was moving at high speed when it struck the glass. Rest in peace, weary traveler.