A storm blew through yesterday that dumped 3″ of rain on central OK. Evidently caught up in that mess was this Red-eyed Vireo in the southwestern alcove.
Though they might have come in yesterday (when I didn’t check), there were two birds in the southwestern alcove today: a Tennessee Warbler (AHY-U, fat = 2) and a Painted Bunting (SY-U <probably female>, fat = 2).
There was also a bonus at the Food and Ag Products Center: a window-killed Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a trapped Black-and-white Warbler. The warbler flew off fine as I approached.
Since Monday night, we seem to have received at least 5 inches of rain here in Stillwater. That’s great as I’ve been lamenting the lack of even clouds for a few weeks. The system that brought the rain might have kept birds bottled up to our north because once it cleared last night (Wed.) there was one heck of a flight.
Of course, attempts to correlate window collision mortality with big radar echoes of migrating birds are fraught with confirmation bias. There are plenty of big flights that result in no dead birds on my rounds, and I’m a lot more likely to check “last night’s radar” on a morning when I find multiple casualties. Today was one of those days.
I walked to the Noble Research Center on a route that took me past the long row of windows on the southern side of the Food and Agricultural Products Building, aka, FAPC. This is just across a parking lot from the NRC and I’ve made several incidental finds there. Today, these “bonus birds” numbered three: an Ovenbird, a Common Yellowthroat (collected) and, around the corner, a female Indigo Bunting that had been there for at least a few days. So before I even made it to the NRC, I encountered 3 window-killed birds.
The yellowthroat was an apparent AHY-male, with fat = 2 and weighing in at 12 g.
At the NRC was another surprise. Surprisingly, after all these years and considering how common these birds are as migrants and wintering residents, I found the project’s first Savannah Sparrow, in the northwest alcove.
There was also a trapped Common Yellowthroat at the main north entrance and another Savannah sparrow flitting around – through not trapped – just west of the southern portico entrance. The Savannah Sparrow was AHY-U, weighing 18g with a fat score = 2.
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:
- Northern Cardinal
- Common Yellowthroat
- Mourning Dove
- Song Sparrow
- Yellow Warbler
- Carolina Wren
A powerful cold front with rotating bands of heavy rain moved into the Plains this weekend, leaving Stillwater waterlogged with nearly 6″ of rain. Snow accumulated in the Panhandle and, here in central Oklahoma, icy winds from the South kept temps from rising much higher than the low 50s F.
Several of us got to experience this weird watery weather all day long, as we braved those elements to participate in the Audubon Birdathon Big Day. Bands (squalls, really) of cold rain and occasional sleet swept through every 30 minutes or so throughout the day. It was cold, it was wet, and the Cimarron filled its banks and then some. Shorebirding was excellent, but the birds were in flooded fields as there certainly wasn’t any exposed mudflat for foraging.
We ended the day with a quite respectable 126 species, but it was a tough day for many of these birds. There were a few grim reminders that hard spring weather can rapidly turn deadly:
I’d been following this Mourning Dove that had nested in last year’s robin’s nest near the main north entrance of the Noble Research Center:
That sturdy adobe nest blew out of its tree in the wee morning hours of 4/29, and mama Mourning Dove wasn’t quite ready to give up on her eggs in the afternoon.
We found 14 (!) Soras at one site on the 30th, and a few days later I found this unfortunate one that died in a window collision at Eagle Heights Baptist Church:
The saddest case, however, had to be this one: Carolina Chickadees in one of my nest boxes were trying to fledge during that horrible weather on the 30th. A few of them made it – or at least made it outside the box and were promptly snatched up by my local Cooper’s Hawks – but at least one did not. A few days later, I checked the box to find these contents – a dead nestling and one of its parents, presumably the mother. Near as I can tell, the adult was in the box brooding the youngster and they both succumbed to the elements (or were killed but not retrieved by the Coops). I’ll never know the real cause of death, but either directly or indirectly, the rain squalls of Apr. 30th seem to have played a role.
Yesterday (Friday 4/21/17) dawned stormy after an equally stormy night. We picked up nearly 2 inches of rain (+ some hail!) and enjoyed several hours of lightning and thunder. It was dicey enough – and I busy enough – that I skipped Friday’s morning survey.
Saturday, Earth Day (!) was misty, windy, and cool but mostly dry. After a morning field trip, I checked the Noble Research Center and found the fifth Orange-crowned Warbler of the survey. (Recall, that Thursday, 4/20, produced the fourth.) It is tantalizing – and sad! – to think of two birds traveling together and dying together, especially considering that the collision took place at the same spot on the building. I don’t think, however, that this ASY, fat = 0, probable female had been in place since Thursday. She was much too dry to have lain out in the open during Friday’s deluge. So I think she really did come in overnight and if not traveling with Thursday’s male, evidently following a similar route.