I was away and unable to keep track of casualties at the Noble Research Center from 6/22–7/2. On my check today (7/3), the carcasses of Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo were all gone. (Actually, a cuckoo wing remains but it’s time to call the carcass as removed as it’s very unlikely to be noticed at this point.) The most conservative date to ascribe for the scavenging removal trial is 6/22 which gives unofficial removal times of 7 (titmouse), 17 (finch), and 32 (cuckoo) days.
This morning, a dead Tufted Titmouse achieved some grim and arbitrary notoriety as the 250th window-killed bird I’ve found at the Noble Research Center since monitoring began on 20 August 2009. She’s right near the entrance to the northwest alcove, and I left her in place to see how long it takes for her to be removed.
Like so many birds I find in June, this was a female (AHY) with a brood patch. This one had a faint stripe of mulberry juice down the front of her breast and little on her beak.
Intrigued by the pattern, I queried my database for June casualties, 2009–2016. Out of 22 window-kills, at least 8 have been females with brood patches (and additional 7 might have been but the data weren’t recorded).
As reported for May 30 2015, I had observed the beginnings of a pattern when I found the very first window-killed Tufted Titmouse on this project. That was the second titmouse I’d found on campus during the last week of May, and both were females with brood patches. In early June of this year, Corey Riding let me know that he had found a Carolina Chickadee dead at Ag Hall – that bird, too, was a female with brood patch.
Today, that emerging pattern got a bit fuzzier when I found just the second dead Tufted Titmouse at the NRC since daily monitoring began in 2009. This one was an ASY male with fat = 0 in the southwest alcove. So much for patterns, at least that one.
I left this bird in place where it lasted until Thursday, June 25.
Imagine you are holding a deck of cards. Now toss that deck on the floor and look at all 52 of them. Now imagine that each one of those cards represents a different species of bird. There are sparrows, warblers, thrushes, woodpeckers, etc. With the addition of a Tufted Titmouse this morning, there have now been 52 different species of birds killed in window collisions at the Noble Research Center since I started keeping track in 2009.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve featured Tufted Titmouse on this site: On 24 May 2012, I found a Tufted Titmouse at the Kerr-Drummond residence hall immediately to the west of Ag Hall. That was unusual in that it was a female with a brood patch and she had actually lain down fat (I scored her as a 1).
Today’s bird was similar: She was a second-year female with a drying brood patch and fat I would score as a 2.
According to Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” My watching has just suggested to me that 100% of the Tufted Titmice that have struck windows on this campus have been females in the last week of May with some fat accumulation in the furcular hollow and a brood patch suggestive of having recently produced fledglings. Is this post-breeding dispersal? Wandering to find a mate for a second brood? Wandering after loss of a brood? Dispersal to a molting area? Questions abound, but with my n = 2, it looks like the beginnings of a pattern to me.
For the second time this week, I’ve found a non-migratory bird in high breeding condition dead from a window collision on campus. This time it was a female Tufted Titmouse outside the Kerr-Drummond residence hall. Like the Red-bellied Woodpecker from a few days ago, this is a new species for the study, and a species I’ve never before confirmed on campus at all. She had some fat laid down (score = 1) and a well-developed brood patch evident in the photo. (In case you’re wondering the answer is yes: It is difficult to blow on a bird’s breast to display the brood patch while holding a camera steady for a photo.)