After a bit of a slow start it did not take long to wrack up 20 casualties this spring. Today it was a “day 0” Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the main north entrance, meaning that it hit and was scavenged before I found it. Here again is a reminder of the difference between scavenging and removal: This bird was immediately scavenged, but it will likely be many weeks before all traces of its feathers are gone.
There were no new casualties on my survey from about 7:30 this morning, but then the sharp eyes of students Dalton Deshazer, Jake Rowland, and Corey Sage noticed this Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the southwestern alcove. (On my check the next day, the bird had been moved off the sidewalk and was much less conspicuous. It persisted until removal on May 5th.)
As a bonus, Corey Sage provided this photo of a trapped Cedar Waxwing, also at the southwestern entrance, later that afternoon.
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.
Haley Butler tipped me off to this Yellow-billed Cuckoo she found at the southeastern alcove of the Noble Research Center on the afternoon of 12 May. By the time I got there to check on the morning of the 13th, the cuckoo had been scavenged, evidently by a cat.
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.
With apologies for the 1) poor and 2) non-existent photos . . .
I found an ASY male Mourning Warbler (fat = 0) at the main north entrance this morning. He was waaaaay better looking than these photos attest, and I bet he was even more handsome in life.
In the northwest alcove lay a female (with well-developed brood patch!) Yellow-billed Cuckoo (no photo). I left the cuckoo in place, as the ants were already doing a number on her.
In scavenging news, the starling from 5/18 was both moved and eaten: I found a remnant pile of its larger feathers about 5m away from the bird’s location. Whatever picked it up had taken it south to the bushes in front of the northern entrance.
Today I found two birds, both of which were in a state of decomposition indicating that they actually died yesterday, Jun. 15th.
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo was interesting in that there has been something of a local movement of them over the past couple of weeks. Last week, at least one and possibly two, died in window collisions with the Food and Agricultural Products Center just west and across a parking lot from the NRC. I’ve also had one calling in my backyard, which is a bit unusual. The bird I found today was also interesting in providing the first kill at an odd point on the building: the very northwesternmost corner entry. This is a section of the building only about 6′ wide.
The second bird was a HY (local) Northern Cardinal male. I found this bird at the main north entrance.
I left both birds in place to assess removal rates.
That’s an interesting pattern of window kills, with the collisions seemingly concentrated on the north and west sides during (what should be) spring migration.