Archivos de Diario para abril 2020

09 de abril de 2020

April 7, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Wallingford, PA
(Habitat: backyard bird feeder; suburban deciduous forest edge/field)

9:30 – 11:00 am: It was a warm spring morning, about 65 degrees F and partly cloudy. When I first headed out, the skies were blue and the sun was bright, but as time went on, the sun went in and out and was hidden behind clouds by around 10:30 am. Since most of the parks are closed near me, I ended up going back to the field that I did my last journal at—at the edge of a small patch of deciduous woods. I also started out at our backyard bird feeders because just the day before, our newest visitors included some American Goldfinches and a Red-winged Blackbird! But this morning, the only visitors were a Song Sparrow and an Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Once I arrived at the field, I encountered lots of robins and a few chickadees! According to the Audubon Society, American Robins tend to be permanent residents in Pennsylvania, and if they are migrating, they may have only come from a few miles away. Their winter food source is primarily fruit, so they are probably able to survive in our area off of winter shrubs that produce berries, especially now that our winters are getting warmer. However, climate change must impact their migration patterns if they do migrate, making them more susceptible to extreme spring weather if they migrate early. Black-capped Chickadees are definitely permanent residents of this area; I imagine that as a flock species, they use the power of numbers to stay protected from predators and find food during the winter. They are also able to eat a fairly diverse diet of fruit, insects, seeds and animal fats, making them adaptable and resilient to changing conditions.

About 10 minutes after I got to the field, I noticed some movement in one of the arborvitae trees that line the fence separating the field and the woods. I saw a tiny olive-gray bird, but it was deep in the branches so I couldn’t make out many other features. I thought it might be some kind of sparrow because of the black and white lines on its wings, but it flew out of sight before I could get closer. I turned my focus to some of the other birds around me—including a fair number of House Finches, House Sparrows and a few Song Sparrows—but it wasn’t long before I noticed the same bird in a tree a few feet away. I was able to creep closer and as it hopped in and out of sight, I thought I saw a flash of red on its head. Then it hit me! “Oh my god did I just see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet?” I actually asked myself out loud, a bit too excited by the fact that what we learned in class was being applied in the real world (as a budding bird nerd does). But it was so brief that I couldn’t be sure. Suffice it to say, this little guy continued to cross paths with me throughout the next hour and a half, always in one of the arborvitaes and keeping himself well-concealed but confirming my original ID. They may not be the rarest bird, but I had never seen one before learning them for our quiz, so I was delighted by this one, and how many chances he gave me to identify him! According to Audubon’s and Cornell’s websites, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are short-distance migrants who winter in the southern US and Mexico. Pennsylvania is considered non-breeding grounds for them, so this one was likely on his way to breeding grounds further north in New England and Canada. Since facultative migrants tend to respond to short-term stimuli such as changes in vegetation and temperature, warmer weather and the return of foliage likely brought this Kinglet up here.

Mini Activity: I didn’t see any obligate migrants on this excursion, but I looked up the distances for the Ruby-crowned Kinglet and two other possible short-distance migrants, Song Sparrows and American Robins. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet may have traveled the furthest—they have been seen as far south as Guatemala, but many winter in Mexico, so I used the distance from Mexico City to my hometown, Wallingford, PA which is about 2500 miles. Then, both Song Sparrows and American Robins are known to winter down in Florida, so I measured the distance from Tampa—about 1025 miles. All together, these three birds’ possible journeys total 4550 miles! And they all still have a ways to go if they’re still en route to their northernmost breeding grounds.

Anotado en abril 09, jueves 03:51 por mreilly20 mreilly20 | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de abril de 2020

April 15, 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Wallingford, PA - Leiper Historic House Park
Habitat: suburban park/deciduous woods along a creek; adjacent to a highway overpass.

Time: 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm
Weather: It was sunny with clear blue skies. It was about 50 degrees F, with a slight wind from the south.

Exciting observation: a Belted Kingfisher went flying by as I was standing at the edge of the creek. It was going so fast that I almost didn't recognize it, but its distinctive chattering call gave it away. It flew back the way it came a few minutes later, and I was able to identify it through my binoculars but I only managed to snap that really blurry picture of it! I don't think I've ever seen Kingfishers at home, or if I did, I didn't know!

Anotado en abril 16, jueves 00:04 por mreilly20 mreilly20 | 8 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de abril de 2020

April 20, 2020

Monday, April 20, 2020
Wallingford, PA
(Habitat: backyard bird feeder; suburban deciduous forest edge/field)

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: It was a warm spring golden hour, about 60 degrees F, with clear skies and a slight wind from the southwest. For this journal, I went to the field/forest edge behind my house and watched. There was a lot of singing going on this evening! When I arrived at the field, I heard the songs of Song Sparrows, American Robins and Northern Cardinals, and the calls of House Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and House Finches. Standing in the field, all of the vocalizations were coming from the surrounding foliage—whether from the finches and sparrows in the arborvitae trees lining the edge of the field or the calls that came from the woods—the only sounds I heard in the field were from birds flying overhead. Given the time of day, I’m guessing the birds were settling in for the night and perhaps focusing on territory defense and courtship? It would make sense that the safest nesting sites would be somewhere with either foliage or taller grasses to serve as cover. I noticed that except for the species I observed in the line of arborvitaes (House Finches, House Sparrows and Song Sparrows) (the habitat closer to manmade structures) were mostly ground foragers and nest on the ground and/or in manmade structures, while the species I observed in the woods were largely tree nesters.

I kept seeing one particular Song Sparrow that would fly between a few different trees, but almost always sang from the top of a tree or one of the outermost branches. I’m not sure whether he was singing to attract a mate or to defend his territory, but either way, he was making his presence quite known! According to All About Birds, Song Sparrows nest and forage on the ground, but males sing from higher perches, which explains why I see them singing from telephone wires and treetops. I heard other Song Sparrows singing from other directions, but I don’t recall seeing any others in that particular stretch of trees, so I’m wondering if that was in fact his territory, and if a nest was on the ground nearby. These trees may be a prime territory—their low branches provide cover for nests on the ground, allow easy access to the field for foraging and are currently in a relatively undisturbed area, since the playground is not in use due to COVID-19. However, these trees also always have flocks of House Sparrows and House Finches in them, and while they may not compete with Song Sparrows for nesting sites, they may compete for food resources and they can also be noisy, potentially making the area more obvious to predators. But overall, I believe this would make a good territory and likely reflects well on this male’s fitness.

While I was making my sound map, I observed two American Robins that appeared to be communicating to each other across the field from two different trees. I think I startled one when I walked by a cluster of vines growing on a fence around the playground that the field belongs to—the robin had a long piece of grass in its beak that must have been for a nest! I don’t believe robins tend to build nests so close to the ground, so I don’t think the nest was in those vines. But in case it was nearby, I sat down underneath an ornamental tree planted near the playground and I noticed that the first robin was “cucking” in my direction, perhaps not at me, but to another robin that was directly above me in the tree! I couldn’t determine the sex of either, but if the one I startled was carrying nest material, I would guess that it was a female since female robins do most of the nest-building. The grass looked like it could be from the sedges that grow in our neighbor’s yard, which were recently cut and have been blowing around the area.

Sound map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1b3bvlBKIkTJvEqUeN8tVM8XguYuuhbu5/view?usp=sharing

Anotado en abril 22, miércoles 21:37 por mreilly20 mreilly20 | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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