Old Mill Park - March 1, 2020

Sunday, 3/1/2020
Old Mill Park, Jericho, VT
(Habitat: Northern mixed conifer forest)

11:00 am - 12:30 pm: it was a brisk day, about 15 degrees F, mostly overcast but with blue skies peeking out every so often. The day’s most interesting bird observation actually happened while I was waiting outside my friend’s house, before we even left for Jericho! There appeared to be a Common Raven and an American Crow squabbling in the air. The crow was cawing loudly and dive-bombing the raven. The raven would dodge the crow by flipping over or making a sharp turn; they would fly apart from each other for a few seconds before the crow went for the raven again. According to some brief research, I found that crows and ravens fight often, particularly during their breeding seasons, as they are nest predators of each other. These interactions also tend to be instigated by crows—despite the size difference between the two Corvids—and multiple crows often mob a single raven (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/crows-have-a-mob-mentality-toward-ravens/). I wonder if this interaction was a territorial or food-related fight, since their breeding seasons haven’t quite started yet and winter food sources are likely still scarce?

Now for the main event: the park we visited was situated along the Browns River, behind the Old Red Mill in Jericho. We entered from the mill’s parking lot, where the landscape transitions from a meadow to a denser mixed forest and then to the river/waterfall. This part of the river is very rocky, so most of the trees around the entrance and by the rock outcroppings were snags—the living flora was mostly made up of shrubs and saplings. With so many hiding spots and some berries, we thought this might be a good place for seeing birds on a cold day. But after watching these snags for a while and tapping on hollow trunks without seeing anybody, we decided to head up a steep incline where the forest was denser with living trees. As we moved up, maple, ash, cherry and staghorn sumac transitioned to predominantly white pine and eastern hemlock. Unfortunately, the only birds we actually saw on this trip were three birds that flew overhead and were difficult to ID. They were gray on the undersides of their wings and bellies, and their flight pattern resembled that of European Starlings.

At the top of the slope, we could hear faint birdsong coming from the meadow down below. We still couldn’t see any birds but we think we heard some black-capped chickadees and house sparrows down the hill, where the creek ran through the meadow. The birds were likely spending this cold day in this edge habitat—in their flocks or in warm snags, close to where winter food sources like berries could be found—and not in the conifers we were standing near. I think the time of day wasn’t the best for birdwatching either; since birds are most active at dawn and dusk, they must have been budgeting their energy and body heat while we were there midday. I know there are many reasons that they’re most active at the beginning and end of each day, but during the winter, my guess is that it is even more important for them to maximize their feeding times to either prepare for a cold day or a long night. The only other birds we heard at the top of the slope were a passing American Crow and the high pitched, rapid whistle of what I think was a cedar waxwing, but I could not see the source. I heard it on the side of the slope that was closer to the water.

We found an interesting snag (three of the photos linked to this entry) near where I heard the Cedar Waxwing. It was completely hollow and short—about shoulder-height. It looked like the trunk had split at some point, but the rest of the fallen tree was either completely covered by snow or had since been removed. There were a lot of cavities that appeared to be the work of various woodpeckers on its relatively small surface area. The biggest hole was oblong and looked like that of a Pileated Woodpecker. This snag didn’t seem to be a very warm or safe hiding place at this point because the top was completely exposed, so I wonder if those holes had been formed either before the tree fell/died or sooner after. I was also curious as to why so many of the holes were close to the ground, even if they were just for feeding. A bird would likely still be vulnerable as it fed at the base of the tree. Nevertheless, the safer snags near the entrance/meadow are important shelters for birds that give them easy access to/fast escape routes from winter food sources in more open habitats.

Anotado por mreilly20 mreilly20, marzo 06, viernes 23:29

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Cuervos Género Corvus

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Marzo 1, 2020 10:00 AM HST

Descripción

These are stills from a video I took of what I believe was a Common Raven and American Crow flying overhead. They were flying in circles and the crow appeared to be chasing and diving at the raven. The raven would then turn or flip over in the air and they would separate before repeating the "attacks."

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Carpinteros Y Parientes Familia Picidae

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Marzo 1, 2020 12:28 PM HST

Descripción

Various woodpecker holes on a snag.

Fotos / Sonidos

No hay fotos o sonidos

Qué

Chinito Bombycilla cedrorum

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Marzo 1, 2020 12:20 PM -05

Descripción

Cedar waxwing call heard in Old Mill Park.

Fotos / Sonidos

No hay fotos o sonidos

Qué

Cuervo Norteamericano Corvus brachyrhynchos

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Marzo 1, 2020 12:00 PM -05

Descripción

American crow call heard in Old Mill Park.

Fotos / Sonidos

No hay fotos o sonidos

Qué

Estornino Pinto Europeo Sturnus vulgaris

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Marzo 1, 2020 06:25 PM EST

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