01 de mayo de 2023

5/1/2023 Bird Sightings

Date - 05/01/2023
Start time- 4:30 pm
End time- 5:30 pm
Location-Burlington, VT
Weather- 55°F, partially cloudy, 13 mph northerly winds, light precipitation
Habitats- deciduous stands with moderately dense understories adjacent to a neighborhood

Species List:
5 Ring-billed Gulls
2 Chipping Sparrows
4 American Robins
1 Black-capped Chickadee
6 American Robins
1 Tufted Titmouse
5 American Crows

Publicado el mayo 1, 2023 08:56 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de abril de 2023

April 18, 2023- UVM Bioresearch Complex

Date - 04/18/2023
Start time- 9:30 am
End time- 10:30 am
Location- UVM Bioresearch Complex, Burlington Country Club
Weather- 45°F, overcast, low wind, no precipitation
Habitats- open fields, shrublands, deciduous forest

While in the UVM Bioresearch Complex field, I noticed behaviors that indicated that the breeding season has commenced. I heard an increasing prevalence of song, observed species building nests, and male and female birds in pairs.

The first song I heard was that of the Brown-headed Cowbird. This song was produced by a male in an effort to attract a mate. Brown-headed Cowbirds are parasitic nesters, meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds who will rear their young. This is harmful to the other fledglings in the nest, as they receive less food, but beneficial to the mother cowbird, who can exert the significant energy it would take to care for her young elsewhere.

I observed a pair of Canada Geese traveling around the field together. They were likely foraging in the grassy patch, as they typically build their nests within 150 feet of water. Both geese were circling the area and honking loudly. This indicated that they were defending the area. There was a wide variety of vegetation in this area, so it was presumably high-quality foraging grounds for the two geese. If so, that would indicate high fitness in the geese, as they would have the means to defend the area from competitors. Canada Geese are monogamous and often mate for life.

Another typically monogamous bird I observed was the Osprey. I saw a total of 4 Ospreys during my time in the field, which were presumably 2 breeding pairs. I watched one Osprey carrying a stick to add to its nest which was perched atop a tall manmade nesting structure. This is valuable habitat for Ospreys, as it mimics their natural habitat atop tall trees. High-up areas like these allow the Ospreys to maintain an unobstructed view of the area surrounding their nest as well as protect their eggs from terrestrial predators. Their nesting structures were adjacent to a large golf course pond, where fish are an easily accessible food source. In addition to maintaining the same partner for life, Ospreys tend to use the same nest year after year. The Osprey I viewed carrying a stick to its nest was likely adding to the collection it has accumulated over several years. There are many wooded areas around the fields and golf course, so the Osprey does not have to travel far to gather materials.

In addition to the Brown-headed Cowbird, 2 Canada Geese, and 4 Ospreys, I also observed 4 American Goldfinch, 9 American Robins, 8 Red-winged Blackbirds, and 1 Downy Woodpecker.

Publicado el abril 24, 2023 10:38 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de abril de 2023

Birding in Delta Park 4/13/23

Date - 04/13/2023
Start time - 6:00
End time - 7:30
Location - Delta Park- Colchester, VT
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation) - 86°F, Sunny, low wind, no precipitation
Habitat(s) - Wetlands, Lake Champlain, deciduous forest

Species List:
2 Mallards
5 Canada Geese
20 Red-winged blackbirds
10 American Robins
1 Song Sparrow
2 Northern Cardinals

Publicado el abril 16, 2023 09:20 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de marzo de 2023

Late March

9:00-10:00 am
Behind the Shaws in Winooski
Sunny, 35°F, Little-No wind
Parking lot bordering forested cliffs

On today’s bird watch I observed several species that I have encountered throughout the past few months, including Black-capped Chickadees, European Starlings, American Crows, and American Robins. These species possess adaptations that allow them to withstand the frigid temperatures of Northern Vermont winters. One example of a cold adaptation can be found in the Black-capped Chickadee. These birds enter a nightly hypothermia, in which they decrease their body temperature by 12-15°F below their daytime body temperature. This physiological adaptation allows them to reduce their metabolic expenditures and conserve energy, greatly increasing their chances of survival through cold nights. Other year-round residents employ behavioral adaptations to withstand chilly temperatures. The American Robin fluffs its feathers to create a warmer coat. This behavior increases feather depth by three times which increases insulation by up to 50%.

While in my location, I heard the trilly call of the Red-winged Blackbird. The greater Burlington area lies at the southern end of the bird's breeding range. There is a good chance that the birds I heard singing have completed or were nearing the completion of their journey north. Red-winged Blackbirds spend the winter foraging on grains and seeds in Southern US states and Mexico preparing for their migration. They migrate in pursuit of greater food availability. Because of this annual movement, they are not especially well adapted to withstanding cold temperatures. As Spring begins, the Vermont landscape provides a wide array of new food opportunities. These blackbirds eat fruits, insects, and spiders, all of which are emerging this time of year. I saw several Canada Geese flying north from my location. These birds will reach some of the most northern parts of Canada during their breeding season. Canada Geese migrate to avoid competition, find suitable nesting habitats, and pursue both abundant food and more daylight. In total, the migratory birds (Canada Goose, Common Grackle, and Red-winged Blackbird) that I observed in an hour have a maximum combined migration distance of 5,470 miles.

Species List:
A group of about 20 Cedar Waxwings
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
10 Ring-billed gulls
2 Canada Geese
2 European Starlings
1 Common Grackle
3 Black-capped Chickadees
5 American Crows
5 American Robins

Publicado el marzo 29, 2023 10:24 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de marzo de 2023

3/16 Birdwatching in Mansfield, MA

March 16 from 12:00 pm -1:00 pm
Sunny, 50°F, low wind
Habitats: clearing in a mixed coniferous forest adjacent to an open horse farm

I arrived at my birdwatching location a little before noon. While this is not an optimal time for birdwatching, I was successful in seeing and hearing birds due to the close proximity of many different habitat types. I observed the birds from a clearing that likely once served as an access road in the middle of a conifer-dominant forest. The forest was directly next to open shrubland and a large field that was once a horse farm. At first, I encountered several generalist species. I witnessed 2 American Robins chasing after each other, a typical behavior when establishing territory. This phenomenon tends to occur between 2 males or 2 females. I heard consistent calls from Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, American Crows, and one Golden-crowned Kinglet. For the most part, these birds were not visible.

Red-tailed Hawks are active and highly visible during this time due to their ecological niche as a predator. While most songbirds forage in the morning and take shelter throughout the day, hawks are diurnal hunters with few predators. I spotted 2 Red-tailed Hawks circling over the open field searching for prey. I have heard their calls in this location rather frequently, but they were extremely quiet during their hunt.

While my attempts at “pishing” were unsuccessful, I was able to go back and forth with a Northern Cardinal by whistling. The responding cardinal drew closer and closer throughout the duration of the hour. At the end of my watch, the cardinal flew close to where I was watching, and turned out to be female. It is possible that she approached to mate, as March marks the start of the Northern Cardinal’s breeding season. The male Northern Cardinal’s bright red plumage is the most striking coloration I encountered on my trip. This plumage reflects sexual selection from female cardinals, who prefer the reddest males. This comes at a tradeoff, as the most sexually preferred males stand out the most to predators. The plumage of the Dark-eyed Junco, on the other hand, is useful for remaining camouflaged and undetected in its forest habitat. While their dark plumage is more discreet, these juncos perform courtship rituals in which they flash their bright white tail feathers.

Publicado el marzo 18, 2023 08:48 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 8 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de marzo de 2023

3/1 March Bird Ecology

Date: 3/01/23
Start Time: 7:00
End Time: 8:20
Location: Mansfield Ave where residential area meets woods
Weather: Cloudy, 37℉ with a slight SW wind
Habitats: A combination of street trees, and border forest with patches of brush and snags

This week I observed the birds around my neighborhood. I walked to the border of the residential area and the adjacent woods to get a sense of how birds spend their time in early March. The tree composition in the area is predominantly White Ash, Eastern White Pine, Paper Birch, Red Maple, and various street trees. This morning was very active for birds in the area. With chilly temperatures persisting, the birds are still utilizing adaptations and behaviors to survive. Birds conserve energy to keep warm by postponing breeding until later months. For the most part, they spend most of their time on maintenance, feeding, and resting.

One behavior that enhances winter survival is preening, which maintains feather structure and ensures that the bird is well-insulated. I watched an American Robin preening atop a street tree. Another robin was puffing out its feathers to maintain its body temperature. These robins were by far the most frequent birds that I encountered, with a total of around 8 birds. Their song indicated the arrival of Spring. Another warming behavior I observed was two House Sparrows huddling together atop a tree branch. This allowed them to share body heat and maintain sufficient temperatures.

As I continued on, I heard the laugh-like call and pecking sounds of the Pileated Woodpecker. These woodpeckers depend on hollowing out cavities in trees where they shelter in the cold. The excavation of these holes begins in the fall. Pileated Woodpeckers create separate cavities in the spring for nesting. I assume that the pecking I heard was either the woodpecker beginning its nesting cavity or foraging for insect larvae, such as those of ants and beetles.

Towards the end of my walk, I rapped a stick on a snag and a Black-capped Chickadee emerged. I would assume that the chickadee had finished its foraging for insect larvae and seeds for the morning and returned to the snag to stay warm. These hollows are extremely important for birds that do not have the anatomical capabilities (such as that of the woodpecker) to create caverns to stay warm. Snags like these protect birds as well as other animals from harsh winds and allow body heat to accumulate in frigid temperatures. For a bird like a Black-capped Chickadee, smaller snags would be ideal, as they allow less room for predators and allow less space for heat to dissipate. Other birds I saw and heard included the European Starling, Northern Cardinal, American Crow, 3 Tufted Titmouse, and 3 White-breasted Nuthatches.

Publicado el marzo 7, 2023 08:51 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de febrero de 2023

2/15 on the Border of Centennial Woods

Date-February 15, 2023
Time: 7:50 am- 9:00 am
Weather: Cloudy and Windy with Drizzles
Location: Centennial Woods- Open Woods/Grassland, new growth trees and shrubs

I did not see many birds when I got to my location on the border of Centennial woods. The fairly open habitat boasted a combination of dead and alive trees, with lots of shrubberies. Many of the trees produced red berries which appeared to be a popular food choice for many birds. This specific area is usually bustling with bird activity, so I would assume the light drizzle that started around 8:10 am made most birds take shelter. I did, however, witness 3 different species of birds.

I first noticed several American Crows flying overhead. The generalist species has been very active all throughout Burlington this winter, so it came as no surprise when they appeared over the open woodland. The crows exhibited a flight pattern that consisted of near-constant flapping with very little gliding. American Crows have elliptical wings, which permits them to fly at high speeds with a great ability to maneuver. Their exposed primary feathers produce several airfoils which enhance the crow’s lift while reducing its drag. This wing type gives crows a high degree of control to effectively navigate its wide variety of habitat types, from forests to busy cities.

The second bird I encountered was the Black-capped Chickadee. The tiny generalist is another common Vermont bird. In flight, their bodies bob up and down. They alternate between quickly flapping their wings and folding them in, producing a bounding motion. I would assume they do this for energy efficiency reasons. Similar to the American Crow, Black-capped Chickadees also have an elliptical wing type that allows for high maneuverability. This is advantageous for navigating a wide variety of landscapes as well as escaping predators. I observed a group of 3 chickadees foraging for food on the tree with red berries. They hopped from branch to branch using their wings for stability. One chickadee dove from a tree branch to the ground.

The final bird I observed was the European Starling. A starling’s wings are most similar to the high-speed wing shape. The species displayed a flight pattern that consisted of rapid flapping followed by diving. Their flapping pattern produced a bobbing motion similar to what I observed in the Black-capped Chickadees. In comparison to the American Crow and Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling’s primary feathers are not as exposed while in flight. The alula of the starling is not exposed at all. They likely have a lower maneuverability in comparison to the crows and chickadees due to their wing type, which is optimized for reaching high speeds. This contributes to their preference for disturbed habitats.

Publicado el febrero 19, 2023 10:31 TARDE por lhaigh lhaigh | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario