April 23, 2019

Field Observation 6: Reproductive Ecology

Date: April 13, 2019
Time: 1:45-3:15pm
Weather: Rainy, cloudy and 43 F
Location: Shelburne Pond

I was rather surprised to observe multiple birds during this outing because it was raining. There were about five Mallards swimming on the pond. I heard more birds than I saw. During my walk, I did not observe a lot of reproductive behaviors. At one point I must have got a little too close to a Red-winged Blackbird nest or territory because I heard its alarming call.

Most of the trees in the woods have not yet developed leaves. There were multiple times that I observed nests, new and old. I saw a Hermit Thrush nest in a smaller conifer where it was sheltered from the elements. I was slightly surprised at how low the nest was and if I were a tad bit taller, I would have been almost eye-level. I came across the Red-winged Blackbird territory closer to the edge of the water. I was unable to see the actual nest, but I did not want to stick around to try to find it. There was also a Brown-headed Cowbird around. These individuals plant their eggs in other bird's nests. I also noticed that there were some nests in various tree cavities that were higher up in the trees.

Posted on April 23, 2019 04:02 by oliviaberger oliviaberger | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2019

Field Observation 4: Migration

Date: April 3, 2019
Location: Centennial Woods
Time: 7:50am - 9:20am
Weather: 37°F and Partly Cloudy

During my walk through Centennial Woods, the majority of the birds that I spotted were not migrants. The Dark-eyed Junco, Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, and White-breasted Nuthatch were all present during the winter season. It is possible that these birds do not expend energy to migrate because they are able to survive the winter conditions as long as food is available. Migration may increase the risks of survival because multiple things could occur during the migration. These individuals are forced to adapt to the harsh winter season while other individuals migrate to warmer areas that have more food resources. I did notice that these birds were more active than other times that I have observed them during the winter season. The American Crow was flying around with something in its beak and the Black-capped Chickadee was very vocal. Some individuals were starting mating displays and songs. These individuals that stay in Vermont during the winter have to regulate their body temperatures. For instance, they can utilize facultative hypothermia. Black-capped Chickadee uses this process to tolerate colder temperatures by burning less calories. Torpor is another adaptation to survive winter. Birds also have morphological adaptations, such as darker plumage for solar retention and counter current exchange to regulate blood temperature.

Throughout the walk I heard the Song Sparrow. Song Sparrows are known to migrate during the spring. The spring migration may have been triggered by longer days and increasing temperatures. The Song Sparrow was also relatively responsive to "phising". Arriving in early April allows the Song Sparrow to establish its territory before other migrants arrive. However, they also have to deal with residual winter conditions that later migrants do not have to endure. The medium-distance migrant probably came from southern areas of the United States, such as South Carolina which about 900 miles away.

Posted on April 08, 2019 17:41 by oliviaberger oliviaberger | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 26, 2019

Field Observation 3: Social Behavior & Phenology

On the 13th of March I walked along a trail around Puerto Villamil. It was very sunny and humid. During the morning (10:15am-12pm) I was on a boat that journeyed around the port and I saw multiple bird species. Before getting on the boat, there was a Brown Pelican just wading in the ocean. It was not moving a lot and seemed like it was just enjoying the sun. The area was swarming with people, but the bird did not seem to mind. There were also a couple of Blue-footed Boobies that were standing on a rock. Some individuals were interacting with each other by bumping into others, but for the most part the birds were enjoying their personal space. Additionally, there were a group of penguins swimming around in the open water. They were hunting for fish and were working as a group to herd the fish into the center. It makes sense that the penguins were foraging in the morning because they are active during the day. In addition, the sun had not yet reached its highest point, which would expose the birds to intense sunlight.

During the evening (5:15-7:30pm) I saw several birds along the path. A single Whimbrel was running along the beach. It was not eager to interact with people and kept running away. The bird continuously paid attention to my movements and it was not the best model for photos. There were a couple verbal calls whenever someone got too close to it. The call did not seem threatening, but it did seem like it was warning others to keep their distance. The Common Cactus Finch originally was flittering around a cactus, however, it eventually flew in front of me on the ground. The finch appeared to be curious, but it was also cautious. Once it deemed me non-threatening and boring, the bird started hopping around the trail. The White-cheeked Pintail remained stationary in the water. There were some Flamingos around it, but both birds were not paying attention to each other. I was slightly surprised to see a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron active during the day since they are nocturnal. Despite its darker plumage, it was still difficult to spot the bird in the grass because it was so still and not making noise.

Both the Flamingo and the Blue-footed Booby have distinctive coloring. The bright colors can easily attract predators. However, the bright coloring also helps attract mates. The pigmentation is determined by their diets and the brighter color signals that they are healthy and can take care of offspring. Unlike the Flamingo, the Blue-footed Booby only has colorful feet and its plumage allows it to blend in with the environment. The bright pink of the Flamingo is apparent all over the body.

Due to the lack of chickadees on the island, I waited until I returned to Vermont to attempt "pishing." The Flamingos did not seem amused by the various noises that I was making. I went out to Centennial Woods around 5pm (March 24th). Once I was able to make a similar noise around some birds, I noticed that a couple curious individuals flew closer to the sound. One individual did not appear to be pleased with me and made a warning call. I was worried that it would recruit others to attack me. I suppose that pishing attracts individuals because they are curious. It may also serve as a warning sign to other individuals to gather together to ward off an intruder.

Posted on March 26, 2019 03:21 by oliviaberger oliviaberger | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 08, 2019

Field Observation 2: Physiology

On Saturday (02/23/2019) I went to Shelburne Pond Natural Area and walked around the trails. Around 4:30pm there was not a lot of wildlife activity. A lot of the trees closer to the parking lot were deciduous, but as I walked further down the path I saw more conifers. I had to walk deeper into the woods to eventually spot something. I also noticed that there were less disturbances deeper in the woods. For instance, when I started walking there were multiple people cross country skiing with their dogs and they were making a lot of noise. In addition, it was easier to hear the noise pollution from the road. Within an hour, I observed three airplanes that flew overhead. It may be possible that the birds and other wildlife were located deeper in the woods because they were avoiding human disturbances and other noises. Additionally, there were more conifers which provide shelter from the environment.

I eventually saw about five Black-capped Chickadees flittering between trees around 5:13pm. At first I did not notice them sitting in the tree, but I could hear a call every once in a while. The darker plumage made it slightly more difficult to notice the birds sitting in the dark trees after the sun had set. It was also difficult to spot the birds because they were not moving or making a lot of noise. They were rather sedentary until I started playing bird calls on my phone. After playing the recording, I heard some drumming on a tree branch and I thought it might have been a woodpecker. However, when I looked up I noticed that the chickadee was hitting the branch with its beak. It also started preening its chest. I assume that the birds were resting and conserving heat and energy by sitting in the tree until they heard the recorded bird call.

Throughout the walk I noticed three snags. There was one about 50 ft from the parking lot. I was surprised that it was on a smaller tree, about 4 ft tall, but there was nothing inside of it. I noticed another snag, around the area that I saw the chickadees, on a much larger and taller tree. Unfortunately, I could not see inside because I was about 70 ft too short. However, there was some sap dripping from it. The last snag had a squirrel sitting inside. There were also a couple of squirrels climbing up and down various trees. Snags provide shelter and serve as a perch for hunting individuals. Dead trees without leaves are still useful.

Posted on March 08, 2019 19:21 by oliviaberger oliviaberger | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 20, 2019

Field Observation 1: ID and Flight Physiology

Around 8 am there was a murder of American Crows perched on some tree branches by the cemetery. There were approximately 15 individuals. At the time, it was partly cloudy and around 20°F. There was not a lot of wind and the birds were relatively sedentary. Additionally, the birds were not making a lot of noise. Sometimes it seemed like they were staring at me and planning something. Some individuals had their heads lowered towards the ground. More individuals eventually joined the group in the tree until it seemed like there was a swarm of birds. Afterwards, the crows flew off together in a cloud of black. While in flight, the birds flew in a more direct path than other birds. The American Crow had a deep wing beat and was able to glide through the air.

On Quarry Hill Rd I observed a group of American Robins flying between trees. Previously, I was not observing an abundance of birds. It is likely that individuals were not as active around 3 PM in 6°F weather while it was snowing. It was much more difficult to capture a picture and observe the American Robin. It moved rather fast and was easily startled whenever I made sound. There were approximately ten birds that were flying between berry-filled trees. They were much more active than the American Crow. Some birds were flittering between branches. Additionally, they were able to easily jump up and take flight and then land relatively easily and gracefully without a lot of noise.

There were also some Black-capped Chickadees around Quarry Hill Rd. Two individuals were feeding from a bird feeder in someone's yard. I did not attempt to get too close to them because I was afraid the residents would not appreciate someone wandering on their land. They would fly to the feeder and then quickly leave with a seed. Its wingbeats were much more rapid than the American Crow. It had a more similar flight pattern to the American Robin. Although the Black-capped Chickadee did not stay in one place for a long time, it was easier to observe its coloration because the American Robin blended into the trees and berries.

Posted on February 20, 2019 19:42 by oliviaberger oliviaberger | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment