Field Observation 4: Migration

On April 8, a Monday, I decided to observe birds in and around Centennial woods . The time was 3:30 PM when I began. Chose this area because it was very accessible and I thought I would have the best chance of seeing early migrants. The weather was chilly, wet, and cloudy. Vermont’s usual weather after it rains. The temperature was somewhere in the high 30s or low 40s.
Making my way to centennial, the first birds I noticed were gulls. I suspect they were Herring Gulls, because I did not notice any rings around the bill. For a small period of time I did not see any gulls in Burlington or Winooski, but I would like to consider Herring Gulls as a year round resident. Herring Gulls are medium sized, generalists, scavengers, prefer to nest by water, have a high aspect ratio wing type, and flock most of the time. These adaptations are possibly the reasons they can stay up in Vermont and colder areas year round. They can fly long distances without expending too much energy, they can group in flocks to stay warm, they can eat a variety of food items so finding food during winter is not too difficult for them, and their feathers are well adapted for insulation.
Once I entered centennial I began hearing a variety of bird calls and songs, but I saw very few birds. One of the few birds I saw was a lone American Crow. American Crow, another year round resident, is also a scavenger and can be observed in large flocks during the winter. They appear to have feathers well-adapted for insulation and I assume the black pigmentation can help to attract and store heat. Different than gulls, crows have a slotted, high lift wing type. This allows them to take off into high elevations, but with increased thrust. Another bird I saw was a tiny songbird that seemed to be the source of most of the sounds I heard entering Centennial. To my disappointment it was a Black-capped Chickadee that was foraging high up on a pine tree. I was only disappointed, because I was hoping to see a bird I have not seen before. Black-capped Chickadee is another year round resident that is small sized, somewhat generalistic, somewhat communal, and has an elliptical wing type. During winter they are able to find food in suburbs and forest edges, they are able to fly vertically quite easily, and when temperatures drop low flock size increases allowing individuals to use other individuals for warmth.
The only migrant I came across on my bird watching excursion was a flock of American Robin. They were hanging around some staghorn sumac outside of Centennial. The robins seem to have come from the Southeast, NYC and lower, and are returning to Vermont with some continuing further North. The weather is getting warmer, ice and snow is melting, food is becoming more abundant up north as the season transitions into spring which is very accommodating for the arriving robins.

Posted by david4561 david4561, April 09, 2019 03:48

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Observer

david4561

Date

April 8, 2019 03:54 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

david4561

Date

April 8, 2019 04:21 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

david4561

Date

April 8, 2019 05:02 PM EDT

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