Archivos de Diario para marzo 2020

06 de marzo de 2020

Spring Came Early at Shelburne Farms 3/3/20

On Tuesday, March 3rd, I took advantage of the nice weather and walked the paths of Shelburne Farms. I was able to spend a good chunk of time there – arriving at 11:00 am and leaving at 1:45 pm. It was about 48 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly sunny, and calm. It seemed that the nice weather also brought out many birds as I observed 22 species that afternoon.
Although the weather was enjoyable, it was uncharacteristically warm for that time of year, so many birds were likely more active than usual. However, I did notice some characteristics of energy saving activities. Walking past the cattle barn, I saw many Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows, and European Starlings in with the cows. While this provides them with easy food, it also provides them with warmth and shelter. I imagine this is also where the Rock Pigeons roost overnight. However, the House Sparrows likely take shelter as a flock in the dense brush around the barn overnight. Perhaps the European Starlings spend the night in the large eastern white pine stand next to the barn where they get dense cover.
Some other species of birds I observed were often feeding in mixed flocks. I imagine this can be quite beneficial in the winter because territorial disputes may be less frequent, and it allows the birds to feed more efficiently. With more eyes looking out for potential predators, each individual bird can be more comfortable in spending longer periods of time feeding. They were mostly feeding on trees with any remaining fruit on them. I imagine that once it gets warmer, these birds will start feeding more actively and individually.
However, one species that I hadn’t seen since warmer times, the Eastern Bluebird, was acting as if it were spring. I observed many of these birds, and the majority of them were quite vocal, and hunting regularly for what I imagine were insects. These activities take up energy, so perhaps the warmer weather allowed them to hunt more successfully. I also observed a few of these birds hanging out around a bird box. These bird boxes throughout the property may be where they spend the nights.
As I was walking the trails, I saw many snags. I find it nice to see snags because they provide so many great uses for birds. Unfortunately, the majority of people find them to be unattractive, so many get cut down. However, when standing, snags provide a great place to nest or spend cold nights for some species. Snags often get infested with insects or a fungal disease. The insects attract woodpeckers and other bird species which start to carve out cavities while hunting. A fungal infection often makes the tree weaker and rot which can also create cavities. Of the birds I saw, many of them were cavity nesters. So, once spring arrives, these snags could potentially provide desirable places to nest. For now, these cavities can provide great roosting habitats. For the Black-capped Chickadees, they may roost in large groups to help conserve body heat. In fact, I did see a large group of chickadees hanging out around one snag with a prominent cavity in it. I tried knocking on a few snags to see if anything was inside, but nothing showed itself. Perhaps if I was there later in the afternoon some birds or other animals would have returned to their cavity for the night.

Anotado en marzo 06, viernes 03:16 por phil_stoll phil_stoll | 22 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2020

Birding at Washington Crossing Park

On March 24th, I spent the evening in Washington Crossing Park along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. I was there from 4:40 pm to 6:48 pm. It was a beautiful day, sunny, calm, and around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This park has a great diversity of habitat. I started off in a sparsely wooded area along the Delaware River. Then I moved toward field edge habitat, followed by marshland and lake habitat. I observed 31 species, most notably a Red-headed Woodpecker which was being reported from that location.
Another interesting bird that I got to see, and one that I love to see no matter how many times I already have, was the Brown Creeper. One of the reasons I love seeing Brown Creepers is because of how cryptic they are. I first heard the bird and had a very difficult time locating it from just that. Its very high-pitched call made me question over and over again which exact direction the sound was coming from. Then, when I finally got a glimpse of the bird, it still did a great job of hiding. Their cryptic coloration is some of the best camouflage I have seen. The various browns on their back make them blend seamlessly into a tree trunk. However, cryptic coloration is not the only plumage type that can provide good camouflage.
I also observed a few Dark-eyed Juncos feeding along the dark, paved roads going through the park. Their countershading plumage is a perfect example of energy efficient camouflage. The entire top half of these birds are a dark slate color which, on certain surfaces, provides great camouflage. However, the belly of these birds is white. This saves energy because they don’t have to make pigments for these feathers. A final plumage type that can provide defense against predators is disruptive coloration.
The Red-headed Woodpecker that I was lucky enough to see that day was a great example of disruptive coloration. This bird can be broken into just a few major blocks of color: a completely red head, a white belly, and a majorly black back with a large white patch in each wing. While this won’t directly camouflage the bird into its surroundings, it breaks up the general outline of a bird, so it may be more difficult for a potential predator to identify as food.
Another species that I was happy to observe was a large group of Yellow-rumped Warblers. While a few individuals will winter over in PA, this group was likely a migratory flock on its journey to breeding grounds. They had started their pre-alternate molt and were singing their full songs rather than their typical call note which can be used to pick them out in the winter. Since the whole migratory process is very taxing on birds, these Yellow-rumped Warblers were constantly foraging and pausing occasionally to sing. Since I was so excited to see warblers (almost) in breeding plumage, I pished for a little bit to see if I could get a closer look. I think most of the individuals were too preoccupied with their feeding to care about my pishing, but a few came down briefly to see what was going on. I imagine that this sound is so enticing for small birds because it somewhat imitates an alarm call. Since many small birds are preyed upon by tactics of surprise, identifying the location of potential predators helps their survival. So, they may come in to see why the noise is being made.

Anotado en marzo 26, jueves 02:03 por phil_stoll phil_stoll | 30 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario