Field Observation 1: ID and Flight Physiology

Friday, February 15, at 6 am I left my apartment in Winooski to go birding. I decided to spend the 90 minutes in the area around Winooski Falls and Salmon Hole. The weather was not bad, it was not too cold or too windy. Skies were cloudy and it snowed sometime after 7 am. The habitat I observed was mostly disturbed open areas, where no matter where you were you could still hear noise from the roads. There were some areas more secluded, but I did not spend time there. Coniferous trees such as white pine and eastern hemlock made up most of the vegetation in the area.
My bird watching experience began with hanging around the platform by Champlain mills that over looks the Winooski river. Spent roughly 30 minutes in this area and didn’t see much birds reside in the area. The birds that I did see, would fly over me and perch on top of the nearby buildings. Surprisingly did not see any gulls, which I usually see in the area at other times in the year. I guess they have officially migrated. I think I saw about a dozen or so American Crows fly by me while I camped out. Some smaller brown songbirds hastily flew by as well.
After about 30 minutes I made my way towards Salmon Hole. However, instead of going to Salmon Hole I decided to head onto Colchester avenue in the direction of trinity campus. I chose to camp around the cemetery to continue bird watching. I spent most of the remaining time around there and the bridge over the Winooski River. Again, for the most part all I saw were American Crows. By this time, I decided to use American Crows as my diagnostic species.
The flight pattern of the crows was simple. They would fly in a relatively level elevation, maybe dipping an inch or so, flap at two to three beats per second, and glide for two seconds or longer after flapping anywhere from one to five times. Now the other bird I chose to compare American Crows to, was a small brown bird that I did not recognize. This bird had a much faster paced, erratic flight pattern. It would flap continuously, barely ever gliding, and would sink and rise as it flew. It also did not fly in a straight line, it spiraled towards where ever it was going. The crows had broader, lengthier wings compared to the unidentified bird. The crows looked like they had a high lift, slotted wing type. The smaller bird was harder to tell due to its speed, but I would assume it was wing type aimed at increasing thrust like elliptical or high speed.
The habitat niche of the crows seems to be variable. I would see them hanging around trees and heavily forested areas, but also see them hanging around building tops, and road sides. Overall, they seem to prefer habitat where they can perch high up and examine the ground for any possible food sources they can scavenge. On the other hand, the habitat niche of the smaller brown bird seems a little more specific. From what I observed, the bird seemed to prefer open areas with less tree density where it could quickly fly from point a to point b with limited obstacles. The bird also did not fly as high as the crows and would mostly fly towards smaller trees. Once it started snowing, I decided to head back. Before I left, I wanted to get closer to the brown bird to make out its call. What I heard was cheeps and I want to assume that means the brown bird was a house sparrow. After getting back and looking up on the web for basic information on house sparrows, I think it is safe to assume the brown bird was a house sparrow. That concludes my first observation.

Posted by david4561 david4561, February 21, 2019 00:00

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