Spring 2017 Update

The Spring 2017 BirdSafe Pittsburgh monitoring season has now come to an end and as we tally up our birds and look at the data, we always think it’s worthwhile to point out the interesting and new species that were found downtown this spring.  As always this project could not be done without the help of our volunteers.

Many birders have noted the bizarre nature of this springs migration, with only slow, small movements of birds week after week.  We noticed the same things while walking routes throughout Pittsburgh, looking for birds that had struck windows.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteers we managed to find 66 birds this season (See figure 1.)!  That is slightly less than past spring seasons (43 – 2014, 81 – 2015, and 85 – 2016).  16 of the 66 found were alive and taken to the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Verona.  36 species of birds were found throughout the spring including 4 first time species for BirdSafe Pittsburgh; Alder Flycatcher, Bobolink, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Eastern Meadowlark.


figure 1. Total birds found during the Spring 2017 downtown monitoring season

In the off season between the Fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017, 8 birds were found (see Figure 2.) throughout the city, including Northern Cardinal, an unknown Chickadee species, 2 live American Woodcocks, Rock Pigeon, 2 Song Sparrows, and an unknown Species.  These were found between November 9th and March 30th.  This is a reminder that even though we only monitor during the migration season, birds strike windows all year round.


(Female Bobolink found by one of our BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteers)


Figure 2. Birds found during the off season between Fall 2016 and Spring 2017

In our first month of the monitoring season (April) we found 19 birds (see figure 3).  The only warblers we found in April were a Black-throated Green Warbler and a Louisiana Waterthrush.  Unfortunately, only five of the birds were found alive.


(Louisiana Waterthrush found by one of our BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteers, a first for our project.)


Figure 3. Total birds found during April of 2017

In our Second month of the season (May) we found a whopping 38 birds (see figure 4).  20 different species were found in May including some interesting species such as Alder Flycatcher, Bobolink, Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow.  Among these 38 birds only 7 were found alive, one of which had to be one of the strangest calls we have received at BirdSafe Pittsburgh. An individual had ridden her bike into town and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo had struck a window and landed on her bike handlebars!  Fortunately, the woman was more than willing to help, and she kept the bird safe until it was transported to the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.


(Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  This bird struck a window in downtown Pittsburgh and then landed on a bicyclists handlebars.)


Figure 4. Total birds found during May of monitoring season

Now those of you with keen math skills might have noticed that those numbers only add up to 65 when we have 66 birds listed as our total.  That’s because we had one incidental find, a stunned Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, after our spring season ended.  Fortunately, our volunteers managed to get the bird safely to the wildlife center.

Thanks to all of our volunteers for helping to make this slow migration season a successful one.

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