07 de mayo de 2020

May 6, 2020 Field Journal 3 (Supplemental)

Date: May 6th, 2020
Time: 2:00pm - 3:50pm
Location: Hersey Hill, Calais, Vermont
Weather: 57 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly sunny, little to no wind
Habitat: Dense woodland, mostly White Pine with some Striped and Sugar Maple

2 House Finch
2 Song Sparrow
5 Killdeer
1 Pileated Woodpecker
6 American Robin
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Ruffed Grouse egg

Note: 'Field Journal 3' prompt was regarding Winter birds and their evolutionary and ecological adaptations to deal with harsh conditions. Seeing as it is nearly summer, I decided to do my best to recreate this prompt so it is more suitable for this warmer weather.

It was an excellent day for birding. From the moment I stepped outside the birds were singing and calling with such ferocity that it was impossible to get a clear recording of any single call. I decided to only make my observations on the species that I could clearly identify, but there were many more today. Hersey Hill is a small hill located just Northeast from my house on Longmeadow Hill and has noticeable denser woodland. Despite this, it is similar in composition: mostly White Pine with some maple spread in between.

Interestingly, the majority of the birds that I saw on this day were on the ground. Many American Robins and Killdeer were seen scurrying, primarily around a fallen White Pine most likely knocked over by wind (this is common in this area as the wind is strong on the ridge). Both these species share similar diets during the Summer months, feeding mostly on small invertebrates like insects and millipedes, as well as some seeds, explaining the ground-oriented behavior they display. They were more than likely drawn to this fallen White Pine as it shades the ground keeping it moist, which is idle for these small invertebrates and possibly contributing more seeds than usual. During winter months, Killdeer must migrate South in order to keep up this diet as the cold often kills off insects, forces some invertebrates into hibernation, and covers any seeds that may be on the ground. American Robins, however, have evolved to change their diet to primarily berries during the colder months which allows them to stay in their habitat year-round.

Unfortunately, as the winter months have passed us the "Snag Watch" activity has become less relevant. Neither the American Robin, Killdeer, or the other birds I observed seemed to house themselves in the snags I found. It should be noted though that several of the larger snags I found had large holes burrowed in them. This may have been termites or chipmunks, but based on what I saw earlier in the year and the abundance of Woodpeckers in the area that these cavities could have previously been home to Downy, Pileated, or Hairy Woodpeckers. Also, in a previous journal entry, I mentioned that a snag at the end of a small pond was a possible nesting site for two Wood Duck I had seen and would like to confirm that it is fact their nesting location! I returned several times and did see the nest. I plan on continuing to go back to check on the nest and see if any juvenile emerges. This cavity was much large than those seen by made by woodpeckers, which is understanable due to the species comparitive sizes.

Anotado en mayo 07, jueves 20:45 por simonbradley simonbradley | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de mayo de 2020

April 29, 2020 Field Journal 8

Date: April 29th, 2020
Time: 10:00am - 11:30am
Location: Curtis Pond (Maple Corner), Calais, Vermont
Habitat: White Pine tree stand near a manmade pond
Weather: 56 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly sunny, little wind or cloud coverage, short bout of rain lastly roughly 5-10 minutes.

1 Blue Jay
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Great Blue Heron
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (1 male, 1 female)
5 Mallard (1 male, 1 female, 3 juvenile (or perhaps small females))

Anotado en mayo 02, sábado 02:26 por simonbradley simonbradley | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de abril de 2020

April 22, 2020 Field Journal 7

Date: April 22, 2020
Time: 7:45 - 9:30 am
Location: Calais, Vermont
Weather: 25 degrees Fahrenheit, heavy snow, strong Northwestern wind
Habitat: a small pond with Sugar Maple dominate woodland on either side. Open woodland around the pond and the connecting creek.

1 Blue Jay
3 Blue-headed Vireo (2 male, 1 female)
Wild Turkey (not sure as to how many)
1 American Robin
2 Wood Duck (1 male, 1 female)

Today I traveled Southeast from my property to a small pond downhill from the ridge I often make my observations. Unfortunately, it was snowing much more than I had anticipated and the wind made it extremely difficult to see and hear the birds. Whereas mornings here are often quite noisy (my inspiration for getting up earlier than usual to go birding) this morning was quite. In fact, the only species I was able to hear was what I believe to be a flock of Wild Turkeys (if it was not a whole flock, there were at least several close by as they were very loud).

Down at the pond, the only birds I saw were two Wood Ducks. One was clearly male (based on the colorful plumage) and the other was most likely the female. There are several dead trees right on the edge of the pond that I expected to see woodpeckers at, but after seeing the Wood Ducks I believe these may be potential nesting sites for them. I was surprised to see how seemingly uninterested in the other each of them seemed (they did not float around together although they occasionally would pass close to each other). I was expecting to see more, perhaps some form of special call or dance performed by the male as a way to attract the female. After returning home, I did some research and learned that Wood Ducks often pair in late Winter and mate in early Spring. Based on this information, I believe these two ducks have already mated and nested in one of the dead trees noted before. I know Wood Ducks have claws allowing them to nest in places most ducks can't such as treestands bordering a body of water. I will return on a less snowy day to investigate further. In terms of prime or poor territory, I would classify this as prime; although the pond is small, there is plenty of fish. The surrounding land is often also very moist, nearly a wetland, and the air remains humid in late Spring and throughout summer providing ample insects in the area, perfect for a Wood Duck.

On way down the ridge before reaching the pond, another potential since of mating was seen. In a small poplar tree, I saw two Blue-headed Vireo darting at each other in what appeared to be some sort of fight. I decided to stay and watch and because I did I was able to notice a third, smaller Blue-headed Vireo in a neighboring tree (I believe its a Black Cherry but I'm not sure). I never realized how silly songbirds look as they are fighting; I would almost describe it as a dance. It seemed as though they were playing, taking turns flying out from the tree and quickly back to it. I looked into the mating/nesting process of Blue-headed Vireo which confirmed my suspicions: this was most likely two males fighting over territory as a female watched from the sidelines. What was more interesting though was learning what happens after the fight is over and mating begins. As part of the mating ritual, the male Blue-headed Vireo will make a 'courtship nest' which is not a real nest but a show as to how great the male is at collecting resources. This is then abandoned after so the real nest can be made. The nest is made of twigs, grass, bark, and other various pieces of plant debris. Based on this I would say this is great territory for the Vireo: near the edge of dense woodland bordering an open pasture meaning it would not have to travel far at all to get the material needed for its nest.

Anotado en abril 23, jueves 02:00 por simonbradley simonbradley | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de abril de 2020

April 15, 2020 Field Journal 6

Date: April 15th, 2020
Time: 12:05 PM - 2 PM
Location: Calais, Vermont
Weather: 40 degrees, sunny, very windy
Habitat: White and Yellow Birch grove/vernal pool

2 American Robin
8 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Common Grackle
3 Mallard (1 Male, 2 Female)
1 Red-tailed Hawk

Today was lack lustering in terms of birding. The wind was very strong making it difficult to record bird songs and calls as well as determine the general location of where they were coming from. I was located in a White and Yellow Birch grove (predominately White Birch) that has one of many vernal pools near my house. This is also the confirmed location of a Ruffed Grouse perch (my uncle who is a forester has come across a male drumming in this location several times) although none were observed today. Spishing once again proved successful, although only Black-capped Chickadees seemed receptive; no other species seemed to mob. 3 Mallards were seen flying overhead on the walk back. One was clearly male based on the distinct head plumage and at least one of the mothers was an adult female. It was hard to tell if the third was a juvenile or not, but based on the relative size to the others I would guess it was another female. Once again, the Red-tailed Hawk was seen while out in the field flying in a South Eastern direction. I have seen with Hawk on numerous occasions and believe its nest is nearby.

Anotado en abril 16, jueves 00:39 por simonbradley simonbradley | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de abril de 2020

April 7, 2020 Field Journal 5

Date: April 7, 2020
Time: 12:15pm - 1:50pm
Location: Calias, Vermont
Weather: 48 degrees, partially cloudy with little to no wind
Habitat: Spruce outcropping, mostly White and Red Spruce with some Striped Maple. Also to note that there is a vernal pool close by.

Species Observed:
6 Song Sparrow
10 American Crow
5 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Killdeer
12 American Robin
1 (at least) House Finch
1 Common Grackle

On my property, there are three distinct habitats (or maybe more apropos, areas with predominate tree species). The three are Sugar Maple, White and Yellow Birch, and White Spruce with Striped Maple throughout. These observations were taken in the Spruce section of my woods. As soon as I stepped outside the House Finch could be heard and was active for the duration of my time observing. Song sparrows were also very vocal and were seen mostly alone, but sometimes in pairs. What I believe is a Common Grackle (although I have trouble distinguish its call from that of the European Starling so I'm not positive) was very loud but I could not identify its location.

Black-capped Chickadees were also seen, but it is to note that there were not as many as previous trips even after spishing. This may be due to how far into the woods I went as they are more plentiful on the boundaries of my woods. Black-capped Chickadees are an example of year-round residents in Vermont as they do not migrate during the winter months. This is due to efficiency as well as the availability of resources. The Black-capped Chickadee is small and migration requires a lot of energy, something this species can not afford to waste. Black-capped Chickadees are able to change their diets during winter months to consist of fewer insects and more plant material like seeds showing their adaptability to cooling weather.

Song Sparrows are considered facultative migrants as some (especially towards the more Southern region of their breeding habitats) choose not to migrate. Assuming the Song Sparrows seen have migrated back North for the breeding season, it can be assumed that the Song Sparrows in Vermont are coming from the Southern States, the closest being the North Carolina and the farthest being most of Florida (excluding the South Eastern tip which has little to no forested land).

Mini Activity: Using the information regarding the Song Sparrow above, the rough range migratory range of this species can be calculated. Assuming that the Song Sparrows observed had traveled the maximum distance in the most North-South direction possible, it is roughly 2,248.31 km (1,394.04 miles) from my house to the Everglades National Park. For the shortest possible distance, my house to the Northeastern tip of North Carolina, it was calculated to be roughly 929.85 km (577.78 miles). The average of the shortest and longest theoretical distance is 985.91 miles (landing near the Southernmost part of South Carolina) with a range of 816.26 miles.

Anotado en abril 15, miércoles 20:44 por simonbradley simonbradley | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2020

Field Journal #4: Social Behavior & Phenology

Date: 3/25/2020
Time: 3:45 - 5:30 pm
Location: Calais, Vermont
Weather: Cloudy and warm; about 45 degrees
Habitat: Outcrop of Scots pine, with a low-lying marsh surrounding, within a birch forest.

For the most part, little to no observations could be made as to how different species were interacting with each other as the species observed were not near each other. However, interspecies interactions could be seen. For example, Ovenbirds were engaging in a back and forth of sorts from both the East and West (on the note of Ovenbirds, I know it is not their breeding season so I may have misidentified). Interestingly, no Black-capped Chickadees were heard or seen for the first half-hour of observing.

As prompted in the mini-activity, I began making a "psshh" noise, varying between 3 and 5 notes. Almost immediately, Black-capped Chickadees began to respond and within less than a minute, over 15 had flocked to the Scots pine outcrop. The Chickadees songs were varied, but short, only about 3 or 4 "dees", and due to their swift arrival as well, it seems as though they were communicating that there was little danger. With so many in such a small area, I expected to see some signs of aggression: heightened posture and raised feathers on the back of the neck, indicating that territory had been infringed upon, but for the most part, the Black-capped Chickadees remained calm, hopping from branch to branch and picking at the bark. I have heard of this technique but have never tried it. From what I have read about spishing, it is similar to the scold call of chickadees which is used to "mob" (gather) birds together. I was surprised at its effectiveness.

Shortly after the Black-capped Chickadees responded and arrived, a sharp increase in other species activity increased. American Robins arrived in nearby trees and were active in their calls. Although not close by, several American Crows were heard as well. Most interesting, a Ruffed Grouse was also heard (I did not know that they called but knew that they drummed). Based on the direction, it may have been the same Ruffed Grouse that had startled me when it vigorously flew it's perch as I approached my observation location. I was also able to hear the drum of a male Ruffed Grouse, which was not surprising considering the time of day. This drum is only heard during mating season as it is used to attract females. This makes it part of the species circannual cycle, although the tendency for males to perform this display for the most part in the early morning or early evening makes me wonder if it may be part of its circadian cycle as well.

The Ruffed Grouse has plumage that is important to camouflage. This species spends time on both the ground and in trees meaning that it is important that it can hide its self from a variety of predators. The Ruffed Grouse is a good example of cryptic coloration, as its plumage blends well into the forest floor as well as the branches of a tree. In contrast, the Black-capped Chickadee has a much lighter stomach than its back an example of countershading. Since this species is often in trees, it's predators mostly come from above and it's darker back makes them less noticeable to these predators.

Anotado en marzo 26, jueves 01:58 por simonbradley simonbradley | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de febrero de 2020

Field Journal for UVM Ornithology due 2/19/2020: ID and Flight Physiology

Date: 2/18/2020
Time: 1:30 P.M.
Location: Centennial Woods
Weather: 29℉, cloudy, light to moderate snowfall, gusts of winds
Habitat: Conifer tree stand next to a stream
The Black-capped Chickadee seems to take short flights, practically hopping from tree to tree using their wings. These short flights are comprised of rapid wing beats with little to no gliding. Despite the fast pace of wings, the Black-capped Chickadee moves fairly slow at least in comparison to other birds. In contrast, the American Crow flew much higher than the Black-capped Chickadee as they were probably just passing over. The American Crow takes long, deep strokes in flight, with much slower wingbeats than that of the Chickadee. The American Crows would take about 5-6 wingbeats before entering a glide.
Based on these observations, it can be assumed that these two species occupy different niche habitats. The short and slow flight of the Black-capped Chickadee and its tendency to stay low and in the trees indicate this is a niche that this species thrives. The American Crow flew overhead, suggesting the habitat being observed was not occupied by these Crows.
The differences in the flight patterns of the Black-capped Chickadee and the American Crow can be extrapolated to help identify other birds. For example, if one was to observe a bird with small wings and a rapid pace of wing beats, they could probably assume it is a species of a small songbird. Birds often share flight patterns with similar species of birds so understanding which types of birds use a flight pattern can help with basic identification. This can be extended to habitat as well. Many songbirds also occupy habitats similar to those occupied by the Black-capped Chickadee, so understanding habitats can also help with basic identification.
Unfortunately, not many different species of birds were seen today. This may be due to location; Centennial Woods, although beautiful, suffers from a healthy amount of noise pollution coming from busy roads and highways nearby. This not only makes it more difficult to hear and distinguish birdcalls but also drives wildlife to hide. Future observation locations will be chosen to be more secluded to avoid this from happening again.

Anotado en febrero 19, miércoles 02:09 por simonbradley simonbradley | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario