Friday, September 17, 2010

Week's Wrap-up

This week was both eventful and uneventful.

The un-event is a real reason for celebration.  During a week of peak migration we had ZERO casualties on our deadly glass corridor in the A-21 courtyard (the one I papered last Friday!).  Now having written this, I have to qualify it by saying we did have a strike against a more obscure window.

Wednesday morning we picked up remnants of a Common Nighthawk, which we must have overlooked some days before.  All that remained was the wings and a few body feathers - a mammal had likely consumed the rest, since the bones and all soft tissue were gone.  This is a species we have not yet recorded in life on campus.  Nighthawks usually fly and feed during the last light of the evening - a time when we aren't around to observe them.  I saw two at home yesterday just at dusk.
Sue prepping wing, photo by Lynn.
The best I could do for the dead nighthawk was prepare a spread wing for the collection.  I'll attach a specimen tag with relevant information, such as date, place and manner of death.

In other events, Mama Goldfinch is still incubating.

Several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds moved through on Tuesday - we counted five in the short time we were able to be outside observing.  Observations of this species during migration find the birds most numerous during strong northwest winds (yes, we had that on Tues and Weds!), and that most of these birds are seen during midday, which may indicate they refuel earlier in the day.   The Ruby-throated Hummingbird overwinters in Central America and along the US Gulf Coast.

We had a lot of fun watching for raptors all week - see Wednesday's post to read more about hawk-watching.

Now for the list!

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus - NEW!!!
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture (2nd sighting for 2010)
Northern Harrier - in a big mixed-species kettle up high
Red-tailed Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo platypterus - NEW!! - in a big mixed-species kettle up high*
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk (thanks Tom!)
Kestrel (2nd sighting for 2010)

Other non-passerines:
Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Resident passerine species:
Blue Jay
Common Crow
Fish Crow
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Gray Catbird
Black-capped Chickadee
Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
Red-winged Blackbird

Migrating passerine species:
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea - NEW!!
Common Yellowthroat (but it nested here too)
Palm Warbler

Wow - that's 41 species for the week.  This news just in - in an email from the far southeastern end of West Campus, Tom Parlapiano mentioned he saw the first Dark-eyed Junco of the year, outside the Education Center.   Make that forty two species for the week!

* Here's an excerpt from Cornell's All About Birds site, concerning the migration of Broad-winged Hawks:
  •  The Broad-winged Hawk completely leaves its breeding grounds in the fall and winter. Huge numbers of migrating broad-wings can be seen at hawk watches across the East. It usually migrates in large flocks or "kettles" that can range from a couple of individuals to thousands.
  • A recent study attached satellite transmitters to the backs of four Broad-winged Hawks and followed them as they migrated south in the fall. The hawks migrated an average of 7,000 km (4,350 mi) to northern South America, and traveled an average of 111 km (69 mi) each day. Once at the wintering grounds, the hawks did not move around much, staying on average within 2.6 square km (1 square mi).

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