30 de abril de 2020

Field Observation 8: Bobcat Trail

Time: 1:30
Date: 4/29/20
Location: Bobcat Trail, Whallonsburg, NY
Habitat: Open field with small shrubs, transitioning to woodlands and small marsh
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 65 degrees and slight wind.

Ingresado el 30 de abril de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 11 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de abril de 2020

Field Observation 7

Thomas Maron
WFB 130
Field Journal 7

This field observation took place on April 21, 2020 in Westport, NY. The weather a balmy 49 degrees with the spring sun providing some much-needed warmth to what has been a cold spring in the North Country. Similar to my last two field observations, this journal took me from my backyard into a forested park that runs through the center of town and is focused around a small valley through with Hoisington Brook flows. As I moved through this natural area I heard several Chickadees and aw Robins and a multitude of Grackles. As I came into a large open area at the end of the park I stopped to watch a pair of rock pigeons build a nest under a large overhang on the side of a decrepit building. Leaving the park to walk along the lakeshore I saw another pair of Buffleheads swimming about 50 yards from shore. Through my binoculars I watched them as they repeatedly disappeared beneath the surface of the water, presumable diving for food. I continued along the shore for another quarter mile seeing several more Grackles high in large White Pines. Then, I spotted another head bobbing amidst the waves of the lake. At first, I thought it was a Double-crested Cormorant, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a Common Loon! I sat down and watched him as he repeatedly disappeared beneath the waves for minutes at a time to feed. Moving on back through the center of my town I saw two male Cardinals, both high in opposing maple trees calling back and forth and really making quite a racket. The final bird I saw in my observation was in my front yard, a female Downy Woodpecker, making her way up and down a rotting branch intent on finding her next meal.
I saw several birds displaying behaviors related to territory selection and nest selection. The Rock Pigeon pair I observed were in the process of building a nest under the overhang of a building as I watched one of the individuals return to the beam they were roosted on with a sizable twig in its beak. The materials it might be using to build its nest would range from larger twigs to grass and to eventually droppings that solidify the nest as the pigeon fails to remove them. These materials are plentiful in the Pigeon’s habitat and given its proximity to humans most likely also includes softer man-made materials as lining. In terms of nest location, the nesting area of the Pigeon differs from the area in which some of the Robins I saw might be nesting as they would be more likely to take up a nest in the denser coniferous tree stands around my house. This highlights how habitat requirements differ from species to species as while the Rock Pigeon prefers the safety that a building offers and the foraging opportunities of towns, Robins are attracted to denser trees and the variety of feeding options that more wooded areas provide. The bird I observed that was likely defending its territory was one of the Northern Cardinals who was raucously singing in a large maple. This maple was close by other lower denser shrubs and bordered a small un-mowed field, both of which would provide ample quality feeding and nesting opportunities for this individual. Given the quality of the surrounding habitat, this individual was likely of higher fitness.

*Mini Activity in Blue Jay Observation*

Ingresado el 23 de abril de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2020

Field Observation 5

Time: 1:30 pm
Date: 4/13/20
Location: Westport, NY
Weather: Partly Sunny and Mid-40s
Habitat: Backyards, small fields, lakeshore and adjoining small marsh, forested town park

Ingresado el 19 de abril de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de abril de 2020

Field Observation: Westport, NY

Thomas Maron
WFB 130
Field Journal 4

Field Journal 4
This field observation took place in my hometown of Westport, NY in the Adirondack Park. I left my house in the early evening around 4 o clock and took an hour and a half walk that took me through a variety of habitats from backyards and small fields to lake shoreline and mixed forest. The weather was mostly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 50s.
My observation started with sightings of several species as I walked through my backyard on my way to the lake. Here I heard Black-capped Chickedees call and saw several Robins flitting around on the ground and into nearby Buckthorn. As I moved through my neighborhood I saw several American Crows flying high in the sky and as I got closer to the lake saw a Blue Jay in a small Maple tree calling its distinctive call. When I got to the local park I stopped at a hill overlooking a small marsh, the mouth of a brook and Lake Champlain. It was here that the bird activity really picked up as I saw upwards of 40 or 50 Grackles flocking. They flew from nearby trees down into the marshy area, congregating in the small foliage there. I stopped and watched them as more and more joined the flock, but then decided to walk along the lake shore to see what other species were along the shore. On the docks of the town marina was a flock of Herring Gulls, most of whom were engaged in heat-saving behavior with their bills tucked under a wing. I stopped and trained my binoculars on this flock for five or so minutes trying to spot any other species that might be hidden among them, but also just observing their gull antics. Deciding to move on I walked down onto another beach and then back towards the park I had been at and it was during this that I had my most exciting observations. First, was a lone Osprey flying high above the lake. It circled for several minutes before flying off across the bay towards the other shoreline. Soon after this sighting, I noticed a pair of birds in the lake I didn’t recognize which I determined to be a male and female pair of Buffleheads, migrating back towards their breeding grounds in Canada. As I followed them, I noticed more Buffleheads, about 8 in total and watched a male chase another male away from the small flock that had congregated in the water. At this point I was down near the outlet of the brook in the small marshy area and observed a pair of Common Loons several hundred feet from the shore and heard several Red-Winged Blackbirds calling from across the brook. I then turned away from the lake and followed the brook up through a small mixed forest in a valley that winds through the middle of town, towards the end of the trail I looked up to see 10 Turkey Vultures in the upper branches of a dead conifer. When they noticed me the swiftly flapped off, circling the area as I departed.
Two of the species that I observed that forego long migration, the Black-capped Chickadee and the Blue Jay, do so because the energy expenditure of doing outweighs what loss of food they see as a result of season change. This is a result of their generalist diet and ability to cache and store food for the winter. Additionally, the adoption of behavior that reduces heat-loss during winter, such as puffing their feathers or sticking their bill in their wing combined with the lack of significant apteria makes these species adapted to deal with the cold temperatures. The Buffleheads I observed were most likely on their migration track back to their breeding grounds in Canada from their wintering grounds on the coast, or in Appalachia or the Southeast. They’re returning to their breeding grounds as the lakes and ponds unfreeze in Canada and the temperatures warm too much in the South. Similarly, the Osprey has returned from its Central American wintering grounds to take advantage of the unfrozen lake and associated increase in food and favorable breeding conditions and escape the more competitive tropical areas.

Bufflehead travel distance: 400 km
Osprey travel distance: 3480 km
Common Loon travel distance: 429 km
Turkey Vulture travel distance: 376 km
Total: 4685 km!

Ingresado el 09 de abril de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2020

Field Observation 3: Centennial Woods

Thomas Maron
WFB 130
Field Journal 3

Centennial Woods

For this birding outing I decided to stay local and head from my apartment in the Old North End to Centennial Woods. I left my house at 2:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday, March 24th, it was a partially sunny afternoon and the temperature was in the high 40s. The beginning of my outing consisted of suburban bird habitat based around shrubs, backyards, and clustered deciduous trees. Once I reached the entrance to Centennial Woods the habitat changed from mixed forest to primarily coniferous forest and finally to small floodplain.
The first individuals I observed were several American Robins flitting around on the ground into several large coniferous shrubs in a front yard. As I continued on my walk I saw several American Crows fly above me letting out their distinctive “Caw”. Walking through UVM campus I encountered a dearth of observations and only observed several more birds as I entered Centennial Woods. These individuals were two American Crows high in a deciduous tree, one of which had several sticks in its mouth, presumably for its next nest building. As I moved through the woods the amount of calls increased, though I often couldn’t locate the individual that was calling. I distinctly recognized the “Peter-peter-peter” of the Tufted Titmouse and “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee” of the Black-capped Chickadee, additionally I heard the thunks of a woodpecker pecking away at a dead tree, though I couldn’t locate and identify the species. As I continued on through the path I stopped at a high point to look out over one of the “valleys” present in the middle of the woods. Here I heard several more Titmice, Chickadees, a Blue Jay and a Robin, though locating the individuals was difficult as the recent snow was melting and falling from the canopy resulting in lots of movement high in the trees. Moving into the marshy, small floodplain near Centennial Field I saw a Blue Jay fly across the open area and exiting the woods I saw several more Blue Jays low in a small deciduous tree. I stopped to watch them for a couple minutes and they soon lifted off and flew higher into a nearby pine.
Most the birds interactions I observed were through sound, and several times I heard two or more individuals of the same species calling back and forth. These species were mostly Chickadees and were mainly either modest alarm calls or flock communication and recognizing neighbors. I also heard several Blue Jays calling back and forth to each other, likely also calling out to their neighbors. The birds I did observe by sight were not ones that stand out as having especially cryptic coloring, though both the Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadee could be classified as having disruptive coloring due to their white bellies which would disrupt their distinctive bird outlines from afar. Additionally, the Chickadees are clear examples of having coloring to accentuate their bills with their black head coloring framing their bill.
My attempts at spishing were all relatively fruitless as the few individuals I encountered barely even batted a wing in my direction. However, I assume this activity would work because the sound is rather non-threatening and doesn’t closely resemble the call or song of other predators.

Ingresado el 26 de marzo de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de marzo de 2020

Field Observation 2: Intervale

Thomas Maron
WFB 130
Field Journal 2

My second field observation took place at 1:30 in the afternoon on March 3rd, began at my apartment on North Willard St. and proceeded from here down to the Intervale and a trail along the Winooski River. The weather was a warm 47 degrees with alternating sun and partial cloud cover. My excursion took me through several types of habitat including suburban and backyard feeders, farm fields, a deciduous floodplain forest as well as a river ecosystem.
The first individuals I observed were several Mourning Doves and American Crows both on power lines and in flight. As I got closer to the Intervale the diversity of species I saw increased rapidly beginning with a lone male Northern Cardinal and then a male and female pair of the same species. The increased in diversity continued with the observation of several smaller birds including two Song Sparrows and a Black-capped Chickadee. My species sightings then hit a lull until I observed a male and female pair of Common Mergansers drifting down the Winooski River, they were soon joined by another male and three other females of the same species. As I continued on down the trail I was suddenly surprised by the presence of a Downy Woodpecker not five feet from me scurrying up a snag. It soon flew to another nearby tree and was off up and down several other trees before I lost sight of it. On my way back up the road from the Intervale, I noticed a feeder in a side-yard which, somewhat shockingly, had a Hairy Woodpecker fully enthralled upon its feed.
Given the distinctly non-winter weather conditions in which I ventured out in, I didn’t happen to directly observe any species displaying thermoregulating behavior. However, I imagine had the weather been twenty to thirty degrees colder I almost surely would’ve observed the Northern Cardinals with their feather puffed up to increase insulation or would’ve seen the Mergansers sunning themselves or propped up on one leg with their beak tucked in their feathers to reduce heat loss. I also might not have observed the woodpeckers if instead they had been using their time to rest in a cavity rather than expending the energy to find food. However, the sighting of the Hairy Woodpecker at the feeder does display a change in the species diet as a result of season. This individual was most likely opportunistically feeding on the seeds and suet due to a lack of grubs and other bugs in the dead and decaying trees. This behavior highlights how the seasonal change forces species to change their diet more toward what food is immediately available, as opposed to finding the highest quality food or what is their favorite.
During my walk, my snag count did not go very high, however I did observe the Downy Woodpecker pecking on a snag as well as several other snags with Woodpecker holes. These downed and decaying limbs provide both habitat and feed for a variety of cavity-nesting and grub-eating species with both of these types of species most likely to use them.

Ingresado el 06 de marzo de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 8 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de febrero de 2020

Birding Expedition 1: Hurricane Mountain

Thomas Maron
Field Journal 1:

My first birding outing took place on Hurricane Mountain in Keene, NY in the Adirondack Park. The weather was 25 degrees and sunny with occasional gusts of wind up to 5 or 7 miles an hour. The overall outing was about four hours long with three dedicated half hour stops to observe the birds. The first of these was in a coniferous forest at lower elevation in close proximity to a small stream and several wetlands. The second stop was on the edge of a large wetland at slightly higher elevation with a more mixed canopy profile, the trees here were mainly younger saplings. The third stop was the highest in elevation and was in a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest with both older and younger trees. This third stop displayed the greatest diversity of species, as the two first observations yielded only Black-capped Chickadees sightings, though their characteristic call was on full display.
Since the bird observed most frequently was the Chickadee I was able to gain a better understanding of its’ patterns of flight than the two other species I saw. The Chickadee largely “flitted” around, flying rapidly from branch to branch. The individuals would flap frequently, rarely, if ever, gliding and would keep their wings extended out far from their body in flight. This was in stark contrast to the flight of the female Hairy Woodpecker I saw. Her flight was smooth and in flight she would flap, pull her wings in close to her body, and then extend her wings again to make another flap. This pattern made her individuals flaps noticeable and her flight patterned in this cyclic way. She flew in very direct, straight lines, whereas the Chickadee, busily buzzed to-and-fro frenetically. Along with this the Chickadee clearly flapped more frequently and could be seen throughout the vertical profile of the forest, while the Woodpecker flapped less often and was only observed in the higher canopy.
The contrasting features of flight displayed by these two species can be attributed to several factors that are all related. The differing morphology of these two species in wing and body size can explain some parts of these differences. Specifically, that the longer wings and larger body of the Woodpecker make it better suited for gliding and flying in straighter lines, while the smaller wings and body of the Chickadee ensure that it can swiftly change direction but is ill-suited to glide. The contrasting morphology ties directly into the habitat niches of these two species. The Chickadees were observed largely in denser brush flying quickly from branch to branch or branch to ground, while the Woodpecker flew only high in the canopy where there were larger spaces and clearer flight paths. These different niches require different patterns of flight which further requires a specific morphology to be best suited for this habitat. In this case, the smaller, shorter wings of the Chickadee make rapid flight in tight spaces easy, whereas the larger, longer wings of the Woodpecker predispose it to be suited for gliding in the open spaces of the canopy. The characteristics of both birds’ flight highlight the somewhat cyclic relationship between pattern of flight, habitat niche, and wing morphology. Habitat niche necessitates a certain style of flight which is best suited by a specific wing shape which ensures that the species is successful in that habitat. The contrasting methods of flight between these two species effectively illustrated the complex, yet fascinating relationship between morphological adaptions and physical habitat.

Ingresado el 20 de febrero de 2020 por tmaronadk tmaronadk | 4 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario