This morning I found another White-throated Sparrow. In the last two days, the number of this species I’ve found since 2009 has doubled from two to four. We’ve also reached a yearly milestone with now 50 casualties for 2018.
For a bit of added sadness, I also happened upon this Song Sparrow at the Kerr-Drummond complex.
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.
No casualties yet, but I’m up to the 3rd trapped bird of the new year: a Song Sparrow in the northwest alcove. This one was stunned – or exhausted – but before I could get any closer than about 3m it flew away strongly – good sign!
This bird was likely riding a wave of migration that really lit up the radar last night (as linked from Paul Hurtado’s birding page). Check out the big blue blobs in Oklahoma from a little after 11 pm last night:
Keep your eye on that slug of rain and storms (the green, yellow, and red) in the OK Panhandle, though.
Now check out the line of rain and storms that moved in overnight and set up shop on the Kansas border. This is from a bit before 6:00 am, and nobody moving north through our state kept on moving through that! This is a classic setup for a “fallout” of birds. More storms today followed by strong north winds tomorrow will likely keep some staging migrants around for a few more days.
A crisp and cool night following a home football game made for lots of birds on the move and, evidently, quite a few coming into campus. I found this morning 3 dead Lincoln’s Sparrows: southwest alcove, southwest peninsula, and southern portico. I found a dead Grasshopper Sparrow at the northwest alcove.
Trapped birds consisted of a Song Sparrow that I pushed away from the southwest alcove, and a Chipping Sparrow in the rafters of the southern portico, apparently unable to figure out that flying down was the key to getting out.
All right, it’s been several days so I’m comfortable listing that Lincoln’s Sparrow as trapped. It’s still in fine shape, but I watched it bump a window (gently) as it tried to evade me. There were at least two others and I think a Nashville Warbler hanging out in the trees by the main north entrance to the NRC this morning. It could be there are 4 trapped birds there, but I’m being conservative about how I catalog them because they are all flying strongly, etc.
Not so lucky were three other sparrows this morning. I found a Lincoln’s Sparrow at the southeast alcove and a Lincoln’s and Song Sparrow together at the south portico. All were in great shape with fat = 2 or 3. The Lincoln’s were both hatch-year; the Song was after hatch-year.
Well, our first decent flight for spring developed overnight, and here’s how the birds looked on radar a little after 2:00 am:
Those signatures suggested to me that there was a high likelihood that some unfortunate traveler had met its end at the Noble Research Center. I was half-right: I found a Song Sparrow at the North Entrance – continuing the odd examples of birds on the “wrong” side of the building for the prevailing direction of migration. This is the first example of any bird seeming in the slightest distress around the building since last October. In this case, however, I can’t even consider the bird to have been trapped. I found it in the vegetation right next to the windows on the east side of the North Entrance, where it was fluttering around and actively chimp!-ing. I even watched it bump into the window before turning tail and perching in a tree at the seating area. I managed just this shot before the bird took off, up and over the building heading southeast.
So we were close to our first casualty for 2015, but I won’t even count this bird as trapped.