אפריל 12, 2024

Field Journal 5- April 9th, 2024

Date- April 9th, 2024
Start time- 10:35 am
End time- 11:15 am
Location- Various neighborhoods throughout the Old North End, Burlington VT
Weather- ~57° F, little wind, sunny, no precipitation, minimal clouds
Habitats- Urban habitat and suburban backyards- sparse oak trees, Virginia creeper, staghorn sumac, honeylocust; cement pathways, roadways, some grass space in backyards (hotspots for birds)

הועלה ב-אפריל 12, 2024 12:55 לפנה"צ על ידי oharrington oharrington | 6 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 26, 2024

Field Journal 4

Date- March 25th, 2024
Start time- 10:50 am
End time- 12:15 pm
Location- Salmon Hole on the Winooski River, Burlington VT
Weather- ~35° F, little wind, no precipitation- sunny, minimal clouds
Habitats- Riparian habitat (eastern cottonwood, silver maple, some evergreens such as eastern white pine, American basswood), riverine habitat, some cattails; site is next to a sewage plant (?) so some pollution/lots of noise pollution

For this field journal assignment, I went to the Salmon Hole Wildway on the Winooski River. I have been to this site often, for leisurely and educational purposes, so I was excited to see what I would find while birding. I walked along the path the entire time (although there isn't much space off the trail), as the snow was quite deep and I didn't want to create more disturbance than necessary. I immediately heard some Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, and Song Sparrow calls once I entered the area. I also identified a White-breasted nuthatch by sight, along with a Dark-eyed Junco, an American Robin, and an American Goldfinch. Regarding water birds, I identified a Mallard (male and female), a Canada Goose, and several Ring-billed Gulls on the river. All of these birds largely remain in VT for the winter (as far as I know, as I have seen them all throughout the season), and they have several strategies to do so, from obtaining food from reliable sources (bird feeders, via scavenging, winter berries, etc.) I'd wager that the cost of migration energy-wise outweighs the challenges of remaining in the area for the winter, meaning it is more cost-beneficial to overwinter in the state despite the changing temperature. They also can self-insulate by puffing out their plumage (which I've seen several of these species do at bird feeders and in the field). Another physiological adaptation to aid these species in over-wintering is going into torpor and lowering their body temperatures to conserve energy and resources. A behavioral adaptation that could also assist in this endeavor is the use of cavities in trees and snags, where heat is better trapped. Back to my species count, I had trouble keying out a song I heard, so I used Merlin ID, which registered the bird as the Carolina Wren. Researching this further, there is a chance the app was correct, because the species has been found in Vermont, but it's also possible that the app was wrong, so I'm still not 100% sure what bird it was. Other birds I identified via sound were the Downy Woodpecker, and possibly a Hairy Woodpecker (although I didn't get a concrete enough view to be 100% confident the beak was the length of a Hairy Woodpecker).

One species I identified by sound that qualifies as a facultative migrant is the Red-winged Blackbird. I know some individuals remain in Vermont for the winter, but the vast majority (as far as I can tell) migrate south toward warmer weather. Several changes in the environment facilitate their complete return to Vermont, namely the increase in food resources (insects), preferential/breeding habitat (wetlands and grasslands), and increase in temperature more broadly with springtime. A disadvantage of arriving this early in Burlington is that the weather is still quite dynamic (as evidenced by the recent snowfall), so their habitat requirements could be less consistent than they need. After researching, I also found that males generally arrive first, to establish territories for mating and future breeding sites (https://vtecostudies.org/blog/red-winged-blackbirds-signal-the-arrival-of-spring/). To determine a basic migratory distance for the species, I used Williamstown, MA as an overwintering site. This would make the travel distance ~140 miles from Burlington (quite impressive!).

הועלה ב-מרץ 26, 2024 04:24 לפנה"צ על ידי oharrington oharrington | 16 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 7, 2024

Field Journal 3

Location- Ethan Allen Homestead
Date- 3/6/24
Weather- Overcast, slight drizzle; 42 degrees Fahrenheit
Habitat- Silver maple ostrich fern floodplain forest; mixed hardwoods; wetland/grassland
Start time: 7:15 a
End Time: 8:30 a
Species list- American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch

I decided to go to Ethan Allen Homestead for this field journal entry because I wanted to go birding in a floodplain forest habitat to see what species I would find. I stuck mostly to the path because it was quite muddy, but I was still able to hear some great vocalizations and see some cool behaviors. I counted a rough total of ~7 male and ~4 female Northern Cardinals, many of whom were interacting with each other; I assumed this was because the breeding season has started, as many of the males seemed to be in competition to get the females attention. I recorded a video of a male perched in a small shrub, repeatedly vocalizing without moving. I interpreted this to be a mating-behavior while saving energy, with the goal of attracting females. Once the female was close by, these vocalizations seemed to diminish or stop altogether, after which multiple males would fly at each other to try to ward them off the female. Another species that made repeated calls without moving was the Red-winged Blackbird, several of whom I identified in the fields and wetlands surrounding the homestead. These were also males, so I assumed they were also trying to attract potential mates while reducing energy expenditure.

Two birds I identified with starkly contrasting plumages were the Mourning Dove and Northern Cardinal. As I explained above, I saw several male cardinals in the trees and shrubs along the path. However, I saw one Mourning Dove fly up off the trail after I disturbed it from it's resting place. It was well-camouflaged because of it's plumage. An evolutionary advantage to the earth-toned coloration/patterns is that the dove can blend in with its surroundings well; seeing as its a largely stationary bird, to avoid predation and the subsequent energy loss caused by avoidance/fleeing, camouflaging with the ground would reduce these risks and costs that the dove faces. Conversely, the male northern cardinal has vibrant red coloration and plumage, likely an evolutionary advantage in competing for mates and in paternal success. The more vibrant the plumage, the more attractive the male is to females seeking the "best" mate, which confers success on the male via reproduction. Alternatively, I would assume that female cardinals have less colorful plumages to blend in with their nesting environment to avoid predation. Again, successfully avoiding predators without having to burst into flight to flee helps save energy and maximize metabolism, ultimately furthering the bird's success.

I couldn't track down a few Black-capped Chickadees within a close enough range to try the spishing sound, but I tried it around a small number of Dark-eyed Juncos. Several of them flew closer to my spot on the ground to investigate the noise before flying off. I assumed this sound mimics (to some degree of accuracy) a generic warning call, thus explaining why some birds would fly closer to investigate or fly off to avoid the identified risk. It is probably more successful in smaller flocks because the birds communicate with each other to warn one another of risks/potential predators, and the sound is meant to replicate this form of communication.

This was a fun bird walk and I got to hear some great bird vocalizations, and see some neat behavior- looking forward to the next one!

הועלה ב-מרץ 7, 2024 06:28 אחה"צ על ידי oharrington oharrington | 9 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 24, 2024

Field Journal 2- Ornithology- Feb 18th- Middletown Springs, VT

Ornithology- Field Journal 2

Date- 2/18/24
Start time- 1:40
End time- 3:15
Location- Middletown Springs
Weather- Overcast, ~30 degrees Fahrenheit; sparse, brief snowfall; little wind
Habitats- Roadside/backyards in Middletown Springs, leading through a snowy cornfield with lots of agricultural disturbance, to a riverine pathway in deciduous-dominant forest (boxelder, American basswood, sugar maple, red oak, American elm, eastern black walnut, eastern white pine); site is situated approximately 5 miles from the source of the Poultney River (cold water, high clarity, likely high dissolved O2 levels)

I began this walk in my backyard at home in Middletown Springs, VT. We have lots of bird feeders, so I was able to practice identifying numerous species such as the House Finch, Northern Cardinal, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. One thing I noticed was that the birds would frequently fluff their feathers so they looked quite larger than they do in warmer months; I assumed this was a tactic to enhance insulation in their feathers so they could remain active for longer during the colder hours. Further, the sheer number of birds at the feeders would indicate that they could rely on humans as food sources during the winter when their usual feeding habits (searching for seeds, fruit, berries, etc.) are unavailable to them. A lot of the birds seemed to be coming back and forth from coniferous trees, namely Norway spruce and tamarack. I interpreted this pattern to demonstrate the bird’s reliance on evergreen species for nesting and resting spots for the winter; however, the tamarack loses its needles, so maybe this isn’t always the case.

Once I reached the cornfield and river habitat, birds became scarcer and harder to identify. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk flying over the field, possibly hunting for rodent prey or smaller birds. That was exciting to see, as I haven’t come across one in a while and it was refreshing to see a raptor species (not that the passerines aren’t lovely to see as well, they are just far more common). Unfortunately, I could not find many easily accessible snags. Still, I would assume that considering the correlation between snag and cavity size, smaller birds, such as Sparrows or Wrens, would use smaller snags as resting spots, while larger birds could utilize the larger snags. However, one species or group of species that certainly use snags to form cavities are the woodpeckers; the Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers I saw at the feeder likely use snags at a distant site for nesting. Because of their strong insulation, snags are critical overwintering habitat for species that do not migrate. Hopefully, on my next outing, I’ll come across more of them to investigate more thoroughly.

הועלה ב-פברואר 24, 2024 04:24 אחה"צ על ידי oharrington oharrington | 12 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 10, 2024

Field Journal #1- WFB 2300- Ornithology- 2/7/24

Date- February 7th, 2024
Start time- 14:40
End time- 15:55
Location- Centennial Woods, Burlington VT
Weather- ~30° F, little wind, no precipitation- slightly cloudy
Habitats- Coniferous forest, mixed forest, edge habitat; secondary succession-- birds were mostly viewed in the overstory

For my first field journal assignment, I went to Centennial Woods and stuck fairly near the path as I listened and watched for birds. As I walked, I heard several Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice in the coniferous overstory, along with an American Crow in the distance. I observed these birds flutter overhead for a while until they grew comfortable enough to fly closer and I could observe them with better visibility. As I kept walking, I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch scaling an eastern white pine in the distance and heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch, distinguishing the two calls. I also heard a sound that I couldn’t quite identify, so I used the Merlin Bird ID app, which identified it as a Hairy Woodpecker. All these species were in a conifer-dominant forest zone. After around an hour had passed, I was planning on venturing in further, but jets from Norwich University started flying overhead, which almost entirely prevented me from identifying any bird via sound. Seeing as it was getting dark outside, I decided to leave; I plan on starting future birding expeditions in the morning, as birds are more active then and I’d have a greater chance of seeing species that were not active during my visit to Centennial. Leaving Centennial Woods, I saw numerous Dark-eyed Juncos around the parking lot in a deciduous-dominant zone, as well as some American Robins. These species seemed generally more abundant in edge-habitat with higher levels of disturbance.

I selected the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) as my focal species on this outing. As I watched various individuals fly from tree to tree, their flight pattern seemed to consist of a series of rapid fluttering followed by short gliding; they rarely seemed to remain in the air for long stretches. I took note of this pattern of behavior in coniferous overstory habitat, where the Titmice would flit from branch to branch high in eastern white pine stands. They exhibited skilled maneuverability and quick changes in direction, either laterally or vertically, which likely assists them as they travel through dense thickets and branch cover. With long tail feathers, they can effectively maintain balance as they rapidly move through their environment. Additionally, these behaviors would help them evade predators. To assist in identification, the Titmouse can be recognized by its longer tail feathers, rounded wings, and distinct crest. These diagnostic traits, coupled with its flight pattern, allow the bird to be identified with relative ease.

הועלה ב-פברואר 10, 2024 02:48 לפנה"צ על ידי oharrington oharrington | 8 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה