אפריל 10, 2024

Field Journal 5

Date: 04/06/2024
Start time: 7:15 PM
End time: 8:30 PM
Location: Near the UVM Forestry Lab on Spear St.
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation): 41°F, 8mph N wind, clear skies, no precipitation that day but ground was soggy.
Habitat(s): Grasslands, forest edge, deciduous & mixed forest

Since this is one of the mini-journals I won't elaborate much on this last birding trip, but I managed to spot an American Woodcock! It was very cool hearing its call and the whistling noise they make as they fly.

הועלה ב-אפריל 10, 2024 01:06 אחה"צ על ידי sjmyer sjmyer | 4 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 29, 2024

Field Journal 4

Date: 03/25/2024
Start time: 9:17 AM
End time: 12:01 PM
Location: Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation): 27°F, 5mph NW wind, clear skies, 3-4 inches of snow on the ground
Habitat(s): Wetlands, grasslands, forest edge, deciduous & mixed forest

On Sunday, I went with the UVM Birding Club on a trip to Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge! Some of the members of the Vermont Audubon chapter joined us in the bird walk. They had encyclopedic knowledge of the refuge and birds in the area, making for great companions. It was a beautiful day, being warm enough to enjoy being outside with clear skies and a few inches of snow on the ground. We took two trails through the reserve, passing through many types of habitat. The boundary between the wetlands and forest had the most birds present, with an overwhelming amount of Red-winged Blackbirds around us. Turkey Vultures, American Crows, and Common Ravens were often flying overhead. When we were in the forested areas, bird density dropped, but the types of species present changed.

Two of the most common year-round species I have run into so far have been Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. The chickadees are adapted to live in Vermont for the whole year due to their adaptable diet, which includes seeds and insects, both food sources that are available in winter. Chickadees are also known to sometimes roost together at night for warmth and enter facultative hypothermia in order to sleep through the night without going out to get more food. Nuthatches can also stow away food in tree trunks that can be accessed at a later date when food is more scarce.

The American Robin is a facultative migrant, meaning that it may remain in Vermont all year or choose to migrate depending on year-to-year environmental conditions. Any American Robins arriving at this time of year would be coming from more Southern parts of the US or Mexico. A robin may choose to migrate in the first place due to a colder than average climate leading up to their potential migration period, a lack of food in the bird's diet, and/or other cues. Now that Spring has begun, the warmer weather will provide robins with more food sources and better living conditions in Vermont, encouraging their return.

The Fox Sparrow we spotted on our bird walk is an obligate migrant in Vermont! These birds may stop here in early April as a refueling station where they can make use of the increasing food supply for their omnivorous diet and abundance of plant cover near the ground where they like to forage. Disadvantages of stopping during migration in Vermont include the competition between other migrating and non-migrating birds also feeding here as well as the many predators of songbirds drawn in by their presence.

Mini-activity: Using the Birds of the World range figures and Google Earth, I summed the distances between each non-resident species' wintering range and Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. The total distance came out to be about 7,100 miles!

הועלה ב-מרץ 29, 2024 08:31 אחה"צ על ידי sjmyer sjmyer | 28 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 8, 2024

Field Journal 3

Date: 03/06/2024
Start time: 2:28 PM
End time: 3:42 PM
Location: Salmon Hole Park
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation): 43°F, 9mph wind, full cloud cover, raining most of the day (~1 inch total)
Habitat(s): Forest edge, suburban developments, wetlands, river edge

Yesterday, I decided to bird watch in the rain, something I have never done before. Before starting, I pondered about how the rain would affect what species and the quantity of birds I would see. I predicted that I would see more waterfowl but less total birds on my trip. Aside from the rain, the weather was fairly nice! Walking from campus towards Intervale, I did not spot any birds for quite a while. Finally, I came across a cluster of songbirds surrounding a bird feeder. The feeder had a number of big coniferous trees surrounding it, providing the critters with some protection from the rain. I'd imagine it is tougher for many songbirds to feed in the rain as it may impact their ability to fly or maintain body temperature, so huddling near an easy food source with shelter makes a lot of sense.

It was at the bird feeder that I recorded the "peter, peter, peter" song of a Tufted Titmouse. The song is a little tough to hear due to the rain partially drowning it out, but it immediately alerted me towards what bird was in the vicinity and I soon found the Tufted Titmouse. I compared the plumage of this Tufted Titmouse with that of one of the many Black-capped Chickadees orbiting the feeder. Both species have lighter undersides and darker backs, which likely gives them some camouflage from below and above while flying. I am not sure why Black-capped Chickadees have their signature black cap, but I would guess that is has something to do with competing for mates. I feel like the "tuft" of the Tufted Titmouse would have a similar application. Looking at the Black-capped Chickadees further, they were bouncing back and forth from the feeder to a large conifer most of the time. If I am correct in assuming the rain saps more energy out of songbirds, the chickadees are probably making the best of the location by feeding in bursts and then returning to the tree to dry off a little, all being done before night approaches so they have enough energy to rest.

After documenting the birds at the feeder, I continued on, reaching Salmon Hole park. Surprisingly, I only saw a Herring Gull, a couple American Crows, a small group of Black-capped Chickadees, and what looked like a bird of prey (it soared out of view before I could identify it with my binoculars) in the park. When I came across the chickadees, I tried making "pish" noises at various pitches to see if they would react. They appeared unfazed while I made a fool of myself, but it could have been that the rain prevented them from hearing my imposter call. At the very least, it did not scare them off. After exiting Salmon Hole Park and making my return trip, I saw no more birds! Overall, the number and variety of birds I encountered surprised me, especially the lack of waterfowl by Salmon Hole Park.

הועלה ב-מרץ 8, 2024 03:36 לפנה"צ על ידי sjmyer sjmyer | 5 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 24, 2024

Field Journal 2

Date: 02/23/2024
Start time: 4:07 PM
End time: 5:15 PM
Location: Centennial Woods
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation): 40°F, 5mph wind, mixed clouds, precipitation from yesterday
Habitat(s): Forest edge, suburban developments, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, mixed forest, wetlands

Today I returned to Centennial Woods to complete the second field journal. The weather was unusually warm, with partial cloud cover and a light breeze. Due to the rain from the day before, the trek through Centennial Woods was very slippery and I did not stay for too long. However, I still found a decent variety of birds. Once again, Black-capped Chickadees were the most common find. It looked like the chickadees would occasionally fluff up their feathers while perched for a while. I know from having pet parakeets that a bird fluffing its feathers can be done to trap more heat, which would be beneficial for these birds during the winter.

I think I was a little too early in the evening to see any periods of notable activity in the resident birds. I would guess that the times of day when most birds are out and feeding are likely shorter during the colder months or perhaps adjusted to occur when it is closer to midday for more warmth. I suspect that the crows I saw in the woods were getting ready to find more crows for forming a flock to stay with overnight. By all crowding into a tree, the crows can use their numbers to keep each other warm. The diet of omnivorous birds probably shifts away from plants during the winter due to them. Instead, they may rely more heavily on animals like insects. I was curious about if nuthatches change their diet over the seasons and was surprised to see that they tend to eat more nuts and seeds in the winter and insects in the summer! Perhaps my theory was far off.

I tried to keep an eye out for snags, but most of my attention was devoted towards keeping my footing on muddy and icy trails. I did notice that different sections of Centennial Woods tended to have different abundances of snags, with a lot of them being towards the Northwest end of the forest from what I saw. I did not make it far enough off the trail to bang on any snags with a stick, but did not see too many cavities in the first place. I wonder if other animals in Centennial Woods besides birds can create similar cavities in snags or if every other tree dweller waits to move into a pre-dug one. I expected to see some woodpeckers while focusing on the snags, but only saw the White-breasted Nuthatches get too close to any of the cavities.

הועלה ב-פברואר 24, 2024 03:27 לפנה"צ על ידי sjmyer sjmyer | 4 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

פברואר 9, 2024

Field Journal 1

Date: 01/31/2024
Start time: 1:34 PM
End time: 3:12 PM
Location: Centennial Woods
Weather (temperature, wind speed/direction, precipitation): 30 to 35°F, ~5mph wind, overcast, no precipitation
Habitat(s): Forest edge, suburban developments, coniferous forest, deciduous forest, mixed forest, wetlands

Early Wednesday afternoon, I biked over to Centennial Woods to complete the birdwatching portion of this assignment. The weather was still overcast and in the 20-40°F range throughout the day like it had been for the past few days with little wind. I began my observations at the entrance to Centennial Woods near the UVM Police building, so I felt like forest edge and suburban area should be on the list of habitats I birdwatched in. The surrounding suburbs were not busied by many humans or birds at the time I visited. The most prominent bird I observed was the Black-capped Chickadee, which was also the bird I drew an outline of in my field notebook prior to my excursion. As I note near the chickadee sketch, they do not fly too far away from me but also fly from branch to branch of trees quickly! This made it difficult to make a great sketch but I added the basic color patterns distinguishable as well as the general shape and vocalizations I heard.

As I did a loop around Centennial Woods, I noticed that certain birds frequented different habitats throughout the natural area. Patches of forest with more dead trees still standing were definitely favored by the Downy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches. It was interesting to inspect how each of the two species moved through the forest. Both tended to hop up and down the trunk of trees rather than perching on branches. I was able to notice the woodpeckers using their tail as a third supporting structure while on the trees like we talked about in class! Both birds seem to rely on the gravity of starting from a tree rather than the ground for achieving flight most of the time. Their wings seem to fit somewhere between elliptical and high-speed shape, using the fast beating of their wings to stay in the air. I noticed a drop and rise motion that both birds but especially the Downy Woodpecker would employ when flying for more than a few seconds, creating a sine wave shape.

Flight pattern is a great way to help narrow down bird identifications. If you spot a bird from afar and can tell its general coloration but not exact size or specific features, you could examine the flight path and method used to eliminate possible guesses. You can also use flight to help understand what a bird does in its habitat. Based on the quick flight, wing shape, and frequent tree hopping of the Downy Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch; I can assume that the birds' niche and source of food likely involves something on or in the trees. A bird like an owl in the same habitat would point me towards it being a predator that ambushes larger animals in the open due to its larger size, more elliptical wing shape, and very quiet mode of flight. I am surprised by how unevenly I found birds throughout the woods; this may be due to different species having different active times throughout the day or preferring a habitat not very common in Centennial Woods. If I go birdwatching for this class again in Centennial Woods, I want to observe in the morning to see if I notice a different group of typical species!

הועלה ב-פברואר 9, 2024 09:40 אחה"צ על ידי sjmyer sjmyer | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

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