As I’m about to head out for a conference this week, spring and summer monitoring comes to a close. I’ll begin August 2017 the 9th consecutive year of (mostly) daily monitoring for window casualties at the Noble Research Center on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.
It’s been a busy spring.
Beginning Mar 1st, here’s what has turned up at the Noble Research Center.
Indigo Bunting – 5
Painted Bunting – 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
Mourning Dove – 2
Nashville Warbler – 2
Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
Baltimore Oriole – 1
Chipping Sparrow – 1
Eastern Meadowlark – 1
House Wren – 1
Northern Parula – 1
Tennessee Warbler – 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
That’s 28 individuals of 14 species, and damn, that is disheartening.
On the plus side, my commitment to checking almost every day has put me in position to save a few birds by getting them safely away from the building and taking them someplace secure to rest and recuperate for a bit. I can’t guarantee that all 6 of these survived the ordeal, but they seemed to be in good shape when I last saw them:
With special guest stars James O’Connell and David Mallen, today’s survey turned up a male Indigo Bunting and a trapped Yellow Warbler at the main north entrance. (No photo of the warbler; it was a male.)
Let’s take a closer look at that Indigo Bunting:
He’s pretty blue, but his molt limits reveal him to be a second year (SY) male.
Those three big feather visible on the folded wing are the tertials (aka, secondaries 7, 8, and 9 from outer to inner.
Tertials from above. On the right wing, 7 and 9 are brownish and worn but 8 is fresh and blue/black. Tert #8 has been replaced but 7 and 9 are originals from when this bird was a baby last summer. On the left wing, 8 and 9 have been replaced but #7 is original.
Paper plate and packing tape makes it a bit easier to see some things.
Left wing: alulua, greater coverts, secondaries 5 and 6, and terts 8 and 9 have been replaced. Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries 1,2,3,4, and 7 are orignal.
Close-up of head showing trauma to lower mandible from collision.
The multiple obvious molt limits on this bird illustrate two generations of feathers on the same individual, some of which grew in last summer and some which have come in quite recently. This confirms the age of the bird as second year (SY).
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.
I found a trapped Grasshopper Sparrow at the main North entrance to the NRC today, and then a second dead bird at the southeastern alcove. The trapped bird took quite a bit of effort to eventually guide away from the building, but the time was worth it if I was able to keep it from ending up like its comrade.
Today I found a stunned Lincoln’s Sparrow on the south portico (no photo).
The bird couldn’t fly well, but it could fly. I decided to give it the “perch test” to determine if I should consider it to be a casualty or simply a trapped bird. Once able to catch it, I walked the bird south toward Edmond Low Library and found it a dense and secluded place to perch and rest where it might feel protected – or at least better protected than out in the open of the portico. I was pleased to see that the bird grasped a branch strongly and seemed to perch well. This one had me on the fence a bit, but I ultimately logged it as trapped. Though stunned, it seemed otherwise healthy with fat score = 2.
So far, it’s exclusively been the southwestern alcove causing the problems this fall. That’s a bit ironic and potentially problematic, as I’ve completed more window treatments there than anywhere else on the building. However, none of the four birds that has ended up there has been found in front of a treated window, leaving open the suggestion that the treated windows have not cause any casualties, even if casualties have occurred at the partially treated alcove.
This morning, I found the first bird actually in front of a treated window pane: a Northern Waterthrush. The hopeful difference is that this bird was ALIVE.
Above right – Yep, that little white dot in the photo on the right is waterthrush splay in front of the window where I first encountered the bird.