May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

Time: 6:50-12:15
Date: 5/22/2020
Location: Wantagh County Park
Weather: 70 deg. Fahrenheit, sunny, no wind
Habitat: Ocean seashore, mudflats, riparian forest, open field

This session made me realize my ID skills are much stronger for water birds then other habitat-linked species so I know what to work on. I also realized that I definitely saw a lot of Piping Plovers at Monday's location without realizing it.
I am wondering how a colony of Monk Parakeets established themselves and continue to survive so far away from their native habitat? Does science have any hypotheses?

P.S.- I decided not to include the woodpecker because I could not get a solid ID on it, tho I suspect it may have been a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker based upon previous observations at the same park.

Posted on May 22, 2020 22:49 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 16 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020

Time- 7:00-12:00
Date- 5/21/2020
Location- Hempstead Lake State Park
Weather- 60 deg. Fahrenheit, sunny, slight southerly wind
Habitat- Mature Deciduous Forest, freshwater lake

Sorry for the limited number of species yesterday, I hope I did a little bit better today. I will try my best to seek out new vocalizations tomorrow.

Posted on May 21, 2020 21:00 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 18 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

Time- 7:15-12:00
Date- 5/20/2020
Location- Connetquot State Park
Weather- 57 deg. Fahrenheit, sunny, very slightly east-southeasterly breeze

Habitat- Mature coniferous and deciduous Forest, freshwater lake

Today went much better, not only did I find some target species, there was a large lake which provided me with an opportunity to see some waterfowl (albeit there was nothing particularly interesting). I may have gotten my count of Scarlet Tanager wrong as I struggle to identify small yellow birds; I may have confused some female Scarlet Tanagers with American Goldfinch or Yellow Warbler, but the habitat led m e to assume them to be Tanagers.

Posted on May 20, 2020 22:45 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 14 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020

Time- 6:45-12:00
Date- 5/19/20
Location- Edgewood Oak Bush Plains Preserve
Weather- 60 deg. Fahrenheit, strong easterly wind, sunny
Habitat: Mature forest with a VERY dense understory

The name of this location is very misleading as there was no plains to be found. Instead, I was presented with a forest covered in various vines and epiphytes, making it difficult to find any bird, let alone one that is typically found in a grassland. Although I could not find a grassland, I suspect there may have been a hidden one being that I saw species such as the Bobolink. Lets hope tomorrow is more fruitful!!

P.S.- Sorry for no pictures today, I was having camera trouble but the dense understory would have made taking pictures extremely difficult anyway.

Posted on May 19, 2020 22:18 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

Time- 7:10-12:15
Date: 5/18/20
Location: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Weather: sunny, slight easterly breeze, 65 deg. Fahrenheit
Habitat: seashore/mudflats, marsh land, small wood lots

I tried to pay lesser attention to the everyday street birds such as Cardinals and Robins, but it should be noted that these species were plentiful during my entire visit. The most notable aspect of the visit was the sheer quantities of Red-winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows... they were everywhere; my count of individuals for those 2 species are definitely on the lower side (as well as for the Canada Goose being that they their flocks were so large they drowned out the background sounds of NYC. Unfortunately, I ended up going down a long path that led me away from the shore and into the forest so I lost my opportunity to see shore species such as pipers and plovers for a good portion of the trip, but when I did see them it was awesome (albeit extremely difficult)!!

Posted on May 18, 2020 22:46 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 16 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 01, 2020

May 1, 2020

Time: 5:15-6:45
Date: 5/1/202
Location: Around my neighborhood in Wantagh, NY
Weather: 65 deg. Fahrenheit, sunny, no wind
Habitat: suburban trees and small woodlots

Posted on May 01, 2020 22:39 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 15, 2020

April 15, 2020

Date: 4/15/2020
Time: 5:20-6:45 PM
Location: Eisenhower Park
Weather: 50 degrees, no wind, sunny
Habitat: small woodlots of mainly suburban trees, small man-made pond

Eisenhower Park, located on Long Island, NY is 930 acres while Central Park is 840 acres. Being so large, there are many song birds constantly flying in and out of the area so it is quite possible that my counts for the more common species (Crows, Starlings, Robins) are slightly inaccurate. Every other species is accurate.

Interestingly, every Mallard found was a breeding pair!!

Posted on April 15, 2020 23:59 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Spring Migration

Time: 2:00-3:30 PM
Date: 4/15/2020
Location: Around my neighborhood in Wantagh, NY
Weather: 50 deg. Fahrenheit, slight northwest wind, sunny
Habitat: Forest edge, suburban trees

Being on Long Island where it is considerably warmer then Burlington, I suspect fewer species migrate here. I have a feeling all of the species I observed today are year round inhabitants of Long Island and those that do migrate are actually coming in for the winter rather then leaving. Although I did not observe any today, I know this to be true for at least the Canada Goose. Growing up, I would see huge flocks of Canada Geese migrating for the winter; As the years progressed I have noticed an even greater presence of Canada Geese during the winter. This implies that Geese living on Long Island are not migrating (or at least in lesser quantities), while those from more northern places (like Burlington) are migrating here for the winter. While I cannot confirm any of this because it is based purely on observation, the trend of warming climates would support this theory.
All species of bird that do not migrate must have the ability to switch food sources throughout the year. House Sparrows, for example, rely on seeds during the winter and insects in the summer. These summer months are when House Sparrows raise their young, giving them an opportunity to "fatten up" before the cold winter months hit and the less-nutritious seeds are the only food source. House Sparrows have also been shown to nest in cavities in buildings, and sometimes trees to avoid contact with the harsh elements during the winter (I have one that nests in between my air conditioner and the bottom of the roof every year!). Additionally, some House Sparrows have been shown to find a mate around October-November, allowing them a "cuddle buddy" for warmth during the winter ( Other species who strictly begin courtship behaviors in the spring are not afforded this opportunity.
In terms of Long Island climate, early April is the perfect time for long distance migrants to begin their return. I noticed my first bumblebee of the year at the start of the month, indicating that the insects that these species rely on are making their return. Plants are also showing sings of life, with many of them beginning to bloom. This brings additional food that winter inhabitants may be deprived of such as Beech nuts (I saw a lot of American Beech about to bloom and I know many species of birds rely on them.)

Posted on April 15, 2020 20:58 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 27, 2020

Social Behavior

Time- 3:00-4:30 PM Date- 3/27/2020 Location- around my neighborhood in Wantagh, NY Weather- 70 Fahrenheit, sunny and clear, no wind Habitat- open fields and suburban trees Wow, this trip around my block was an unexpected surprise. Upon reading the prompt i thought I would struggle with this assignment because I am typically bad at the deep observation required to notice social interactions. However, I did not need to deeply observe at all, it presented its self. Immediately after walking out of my house I spotted a group of about 5 House Sparrows all chasing a leader, nosily singing the whole time. Though I cannot say for sure, I expect the 5 followers to be vying for a mate (the leader). Although March may be a little early to begin nesting, I suspect the unseasonably warm temperatures may drive some individuals to mate earlier. This assumption was later solidified when I spotted a pair of House Sparrows hanging out near a partially completed nest. This pair provided additional insights as well; while the 2 nesting pair were perched peacefully and quietly, the sparrows in the neighboring tree were all calling, presumably trying to attract a mate. I observed similar behavior in a group of European Starlings where 3 were perched and a 4th came over singing. The 2 of the birds went out to intercept the intruder and began singing back until the intruder chased them off. He then perched next to the only remaining starling. I suspect the two that were chased off were fighting over a mate when the 4th starling chased them off to claim her as his own. Additionally, I spotted a lone Northern Mockingbird perched on a house singing his heart out. The fact that he was alone and singing in such a visually obvious place leads me to believe he was trying to find a mate. As for non-mating related communication, the cacophony of songs got much louder when the Red-tailed Hawk soared over heard. This was most likely the birds warning each other of a predators presence. Blue Jays are bright blue and white and considerably larger then the brown and black House Sparrow. The Blue Jay's call also significantly stands out more, being one deep tone as opposed to a series of high pitches notes strung together. Examining their life history reveals why this might be. Blue Jays are much bigger birds and therefore better able to defend themselves from predators. It is not a big deal if a hawk spots a blue jay because the hawk will most likely go for smaller prey, like a House Sparrow. Being small, dark colored and having a song that makes you difficult to locate allows House Sparrows to remain out of the claws of a predator. As for the pishing activity, I pished my heart out but got no reaction, most likely because of my location. My neighborhood is directly next to one of the most major highways on Long Island so the birds are used to constant noise. However, I do have a hypothesis as to why pishing sometimes draws attention. I believe the pishing sounds imitate that of the flapping wings in a predatory bird. The birds hear a pish, which they believe is a predator so they investigate it.
Posted on March 27, 2020 22:57 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 05, 2020

Ecological Physiology

Time- 1:15-2:45
Date- 3/5/2020
Location- East Woods Natural Area South Burlington, VT
Weather- 43 Fahrenheit, sunny, no wind
Habitat- Northern Hardwood Mature Forest and forest-edge

This observation proved challenging. Being one of the first warm days of the year so far, it was difficult to observe birds in their natural wintering stages. I also ran into issues with actually making observations, despite the almost ever present chorus of calls. Specifically, I could hear Black-capped Chickadees everywhere that an Eastern Hemlock stand was present, but not see them. It was then that I slowed down to realize they were much more active then previous weeks, darting around the tops of trees as opposed to hanging near the bottom. Their transition from the bottom to tops of trees with warmer weather may be an indicator that Black-capped Chickadees spend most of their time at the base of trees to shield themselves from cold winter winds; once it warms there is no need for protection so they can begin foraging at the tops of trees. I observed two Chickadees slightly pecking away at branches which I believe was them foraging for insects in the bark. Additionally, the fact that their calls were only heard in Eastern Hemlock stands reveals that Black-capped Chickadees prefer to perch in conifers during winter, presumably because the needles provide warmth while the barren branches of a deciduous tree do not; I found four nests in Eastern Hemlocks but none in any deciduous tree. Moreover, I did not observe any chickadees resting at any points further supporting that birds are beginning their spring routines.

Black-capped Chickadees were not the only species displaying sings of a changing season. The Red-tailed hawk I observed was gliding in circles in the air, a behavior I believe to be hunting (unfortunately I couldn't get a picture because the branches in the air were too thick to see through with a camera.) The fact that he was flying in the air to hunt as opposed to perching and swooping is most likely explained by the high number of song birds in the surrounding tree tops. The hawk needs to fly up to get a better line of sight on the prey; Had it been later in the year it would most likely be hunting for small mammals with the perch and swoop method (Audubon Guide to North American Birds). The Hairy Woodpecker was particularly active, vigorously jumping from tree to tree in search of food. Hairy Woodpeckers pair-up with a mate in midwinter and use the females territory to build a cavity nest together. The fact that the individual I observed was a lone female hoping from tree to tree indicates that she was feeding as opposed to nesting. Had she been nesting there would be a male present and she would have spent more time pecking at one tree as opposed to taking a few pecks per tree.

Though I got to observe species i rarely see at home (hawks and woodpeckers aren't too common in the urban wasteland that is Long Island), the most interesting and surprising thing to me was the lack of snags, especially considering that East Woods is a mature forest. However, the sparse snags definitely displayed a pattern. Tall skinny snags tended to have a larger cavity close to the top, with smaller cavities running down. Short skinny trees tended to have a larger cavity closer to the base of the trunk, with few or no cavities above it. Though I do not know which species made these cavities, I would presume the cavities on smaller trees belong to a species that is very territorial and spends most of its time close to the ground. The cavities in taller trees are most likely made by a species that can tolerate, and possibly collaborate with each other for feeding and defense. The thick, coppiced trees, on the other hand, had virtually zero cavities on all observed individuals. The few cavities that were found were on the thinner, outer "trunk" of the coppiced tree. The avoidance to cavity in coppiced trees most likely exists because their thick trunks make it challenging, even for the heartiest of woodpeckers.

Posted on March 05, 2020 21:39 by benjaminrosen benjaminrosen | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment