April 25, 2021

FJ7 4/24/21

Date: 24 April 2021
Time: 14:00-15:30
Location: Waitsfield, Vermont net to the Mad River
Weather: 60ºF, sunny with little wind
Habitat: In this section of the river there was a agricultural field on one side. This field was not cleaned out from last season, so there was old, dry bottom of stalks and hay on the ground with some fresh grass growing up through the mess. There was also dried cow manure scattered heavily across the field in little balls. On the other side of the river there was a thin lining of pine trees with occasional landslides where pure sediment was exposed. On both sides there was plentiful woody shrubbery spanning about 25 m from the waters edge. Then, of course, there was the Mad River. It was a pristine section of the river with a max depth of about 3 feet in the middle of the river. In the past years trout have been known to live here, but have been few and far between as of recent.
The Belted Kingfisher was observed chasing around another conspecific and heard calling multiple times. This could be related to territory selection. The surrounding habitat had a wide variety of resources with the agricultural field, river, and pine stand. The first bird could have been signaling that he had selected this section of the river as his home and when another bird came around, he decided to defend it. He was defending a prime territory spot compared to those of the species that may have to live farther from the water body. This species could use some of the cliff-like banks to next where there are cavities in the dirt from erosion or other species old burrows. The habitat requirements for nesting differ from species to species based on how that species survives and its life history strategies for its young. For the Kingfisher, living near a river is ideal because they mostly eat fish. This would keep the parents close to their young when going out to feed. Nesting in the sediment cliff would also be a good protection for the nest as many predatory species cannot hang on to the side of the cliffs without slipping.
Tree Swallows often build their nest with pine needles or straw and line it with their own or other feathers that they find to create both a cushion and hiding spot for their eggs. They would have to pick up the straw if that is what they decide to use from the agricultural field just behind the river or the pine needles from under the sparce pine stands on the other side of the river. The feathers they can pluck from themselves or their partners body or find them on the ground dropped from either conspecifics or other bird species.
Mini Activity: https://www.flickr.com/photos/192385826@N04/51137921906/in/dateposted-public/

Posted on April 25, 2021 17:48 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 19, 2021

FJ6 4/18/2021

Location: Niquette Bay State Park (Lake View Trail and Muhley Trail)
Time: 16:50-19:00
Weather: partly cloudy, around 50 degrees
Habitat: There was a mix of 50% mixed forest and 50% coniferous forest. The mixed forest was primarily composed of Birch, Maple, and Oak trees and occasionally some small stands of pine trees. The coniferous forest was entirely made up of Eastern White Pine trees. A calm small part of Lake Champlain was included in this area creating a bog type habitat about 25 m x 10 m as well as sandy beach habitat that was about 50 m x 5 m. Reeds and long grasses were included in the bog habitat.

Posted on April 19, 2021 01:32 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 9 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 03, 2021

FJ5 4/3/21

03 April 2021
Location: Redstone Lofts retention pond & the Burlington Golf Club
Weather: Sunny, slight wind from the West, ~30ºF
Habitat: At the Lofts there was a small 30 m x 10 m pond with reeds, cattails, woody shrubs, and small Sumac. The surrounding ground was mostly rocks with remnants of past seasons reeds. Around this are it is mostly open with surrounding dormitories and apartments. There is a small mixed wooded area on the smallest side of the pond with trees in their 20s. At the golf club there were Red Oaks, Silver Maples, and Eastern White Pines surrounded by very well-kept green grass. This area had many openings with patches of the previously listed trees.
Some year-round residents observed on this journey were a pair of Mallards. They were dabbling in the pond at the Lofts sticking their bottoms up in the air as their heads were submerged feeding. These ducks most likely have to constantly sun themselves when the sun is available to do so in the long Vermont winters. As Burlington is a generally windy area with strong winds coming off the NY mountains and across the lake, these birds also most likely find somewhere perhaps more inland in the winter or somewhere with a barrier to protect them from becoming too cold. Stores of fat are also probably accumulated to sustain them while there is less food or less access to food due to the formation of ice. These birds may also have a lot of down or afterfeathers on their body which insulates their bodies better than the feathers of a songbird do.
A facultative migrant could be a bird that is omnivorous or feeds on seeds. These birds may not migrate if the winter conditions are mild, which it seems like we have had this winter. An example of this type of migrant seen during the bird outing was the Red-winged Blackbird. They have just started arriving in Northern Vermont about last week. These birds are most likely coming from Southern New England to New Jersey. This bird could be staying in Vermont for its nesting and breeding season or it could be traveling further north into Canada. The birds may be moving if it is too hot for them in their wintering grounds and they are looking for a generally cooler climate that northern states offer. With spring just beginning in Vermont, there may also be preferred food sources just beginning to become available here where they may have been used or non-existent in the birds’ wintering habitat.
Arriving in Burlington in early April may be advantageous to any migratory bird as they would get first pick of a lot of the nesting sites that are just beginning to regrow. While Vermont is still waiting for many birds to migrate North for the summer months, these early birds will be able to find the best places for foraging and nesting for this season before many other birds arrive. This gives them time to set up a territory around the best resources. A disadvantage, however, is that these birds are still subject to crazy weather changes and low temperatures as the early spring weather in Vermont is increasingly varying in temperature and precipitation during this time.
Mini Activity: Frequent Flyer
-Mallard= 0
-Ring-billed Gull= 430 km
-Red-winged Blackbird= 215 km
-Song Sparrow= 0
-Black-capped Chickadee= 0
-Red-breasted Nuthatch= 0
-Brown Creeper= 0
= 645 km estimated total migration/travel

Posted on April 03, 2021 18:30 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 22, 2021

FJ4 3/21/21

21 March 2021 15:06-16:40
Location: Niquette Bay State Park- Ledge Trail
Weather: Sunny
Temperature: 50ºF
Habitat: Mixed wood forest including, but not limited to Paper Birch, Eastern Pine, and Shagbark Hickory. These trees ranged in ages with many new growths occurring throughout the landscape with larger, older trees scattered throughout. Exposed bed rock peppered the cliff sides where there were steep drop offs. Leaf litter was prevalent here as well as moss on the rocks.
During my time sitting up in Colchester looking out at the mountains and bay, I got to hear many birds talking to each other. The best example would be the Barred Owls that I heard and happened to capture the audio and my precious reaction on video. It began with a typical call coming from my left and then a few seconds later one from my right calling the same way. This happened multiple times. It seemed as if these two individuals were trying to figure out where the other one was. Perhaps they are a pair and they were trying to communicate locations and actions to the other. It was about 16:00 when this occurred, so although owls are usually active at night, they could have been out hunting during this time of day as well. These calls were very load and seemed to take much energy to communicate a clear call to the other individual.

Plumage of Barred Owls is a mostly brown back and feathers with dots of white and a bright white belly with streaks of brown. Around the neck and eyes, the feathers are almost like a condensed checkerboard of brown and white. This plumage is ideal for hiding in both the winter and the summer. Neither color particularly stands out amounts its general habitat of mixed forests. Its plumage is a perfect camouflage, especially on the back, that would deter any predator from recognizing it as a form of prey. Contrastingly, the Northern Cardinal heard throughout the walk has a plumage of bright red and brown, depending on the gender of the bird. To use the most extreme example, I’ll talk about the male cardinal with the fire truck red plumage over its entire body. This bright red color may be advantageous when attracting females. Generally female birds are attracted to bright colored, shiny, and extravagant things. This coloration of the male’s feathers not only is attractive aesthetically but may be paired with the health and general fitness of the bird. Females want a healthier mate to ensure that their offspring are also healthy and successful.
A group of Turkey Vultures were observed sitting on tree limbs that were exposed to copious amounts of sunshine. They sat in pairs on limbs that were across from each other with the trunk of the tree in between them. A couple of them occasionally spread their wings out to increase the surface area of their body that was absorbing the sun’s heat; however, they were usually met by protect from their partner for invading their personal space. This sunning activity falls in-line with the circadian rhythm of birds have to keep their body temperatures regulated. Although it was an amazing sunny spring day, it was windy at higher elevations and could still cause the birds to get cold. Taking the time to sun themselves ensures that all of the birds’ internal cycles are operating at the necessary pace for the birds to be able to fly and hunt when the opportunity arises.
Mini Activity-Spishing:
Spishing might work to attract small songbirds because they think it sounds like another one of their species, occasionally more specifically a Black-capped Chickadee. Although I don’t really hear the similarity, spishing could sound different to birds and different as you move away from the source. This also might just be an interesting noise that makes birds want to come investigate. Smaller birds are usually more susceptible to following their curiosity and will likely come see what someone is doing or what the noise they hear is. Usually larger birds are timider and more cautious around humans.

Posted on March 22, 2021 18:08 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 05, 2021

FJ3 3/4/2021

05 March 2021 1500-1630
Location: Overlook Park (1575 Spear St, Burlington, VT 05403)
Weather: partly cloudy, mild winds from the Northeast
Temperature: 27ºF feels like 16ºF
Habitat: Urban. Small clusters of vegetation surrounded by open grass patches. Vegetation consists of an isolated small pine stand, a grouping a young cedars with die off splotches, groups of young trees and woody shrubs/bushes.
During this time spent at Overlook Park I saw a total of 5 American Crows. They were flying in groups of two from Southwest to Northeast. They occasionally vocalized with “caws”. It seemed as though they could be going to their roosting spot after foraging for the day since it was a couple of hours before sunset. Birds might go in for the night earlier in the winter since it is easier to come home warm and stay warm rather than come home cold and try to get warm.
The House Sparrow I saw was hopping around in and amongst the bushes along the fence line presumably foraging for food. It might have been looking for some seeds to eat as there aren’t any nut producing trees in the area and insects are hard to find during the cold Vermont winters. It could also find sap on the evergreen bushes that were on the right side of the fence.
The male Northern Cardinal was seen sitting high in a woody shrub along the fence. It shook out its feathers and fluffed itself up before sitting in the same spot for a while. It was insulating itself by bringing in air and trapping it under its feathers to hear up and act as a person space heater. It then moved to lower branches in the shrub and under some evergreen bushes. It may be warmer closer to the ground where there is more surface area to absorb the heat from the sun that was occasionally breaking through the clouds. Getting closer to the base of vegetation could also provide warmth as the vegetation is heating itself as well and the thickness of the base may provide protection from the winds. The bird continued to rest underneath the bushes until it was out of sight.
Birds diets have to contain more fat in the winter. Fat creates a layer on the outer part of the body that will contain the heat inside the bird. Higher fat during the winter helps them not freeze. They also have to choose the aspects of their diet wisely as there aren’t as many options in the water as there are in other seasons. Efficiency is key where the item they eat contains many different nutrients to maintain the bird rather than just one. The only really good place to overnight on this landscape is the pine stand, in my opinion. This is the most concentrated area of vegetation that can block the birds off from the winter night winds. These trees were also the largest which may provide more area for the birds to roost in.
Snag Watch:
Larger snags most likely have the ability to hold larger cavities in which birds can nest. With more snags, there is most likely a higher abundance of birds as snags are an easy place to nest and be protected from predators within the cavities. Sleeping or nesting in shrubs or bushes is very dangerous for birds as they are at or near eye level for any predators that may want to eat them or their eggs. The only way shrubbery is a viable option for nesting is if it is very thick or there are thorns that predators can not get through. Snags, depending on age, can have strong walls that can prevent predators from getting through. Cavities in snags can also be high up off the ground so that predators can not reach the birds and their eggs. Species that most likely use snags are those that like to feed off the insects in the snags as well as predatory birds that can use the snags are perches to look for prey. The few snags I saw were not large enough to house an birds while the two within the pine stand, nothing emerged.
Map: https://www.flickr.com/photos/192385826@N04/shares/6k9833

Posted on March 05, 2021 18:15 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 21, 2021

FJ2 2/20/21

Date: 20 Feb 2021 1500-1645
Location: UVM Rec Path

  • Stopped about 1.3 miles in a harvested hay field
    Weather: Cloudy/Overcast with a mild occasional wind
    Temperature: 15 ºF
    Habitat: Wheat field surrounded by a mix of deciduous trees on three sides and the rec path and Spear St on the other.
    The main attraction to this site was the flock of American Crows that tend to feed there. At least 30 individuals made up this flock. As it is breeding season for this species, I assumed that this is the local brooding flock for the Burlington area. Many individuals seemed to be picking out food from the field and hopping around to get to different areas.
    Occasionally, a couple would fly five feet in any given direction to comb a new area for food. The wing flaps were shorter and not very forceful as the birds were only planning on moving a small amount taking about three to four flaps. American Crows have Elliptical wings with their primary feathers standing out individually making for a wide wing tip. This provides drag and is better for maneuvering which may be helpful when in such a large flock of birds or may be valuable when they are sitting in trees when not foraging for food. If you find patterns in flight or movements, it may be easier to distinguish it from a bird that looks similar, in this case the common Raven.
    I also saw a Black-capped Chickadee in a tree closer to the path right about the bench. When I approached it hopped up the branches to get away from me. But after a couple of minutes of sitting silently on the bench, it hopped down towards the middle of the tree and towards the remnants of bushes that are directly behind the bench. He had puffed his feathers up to try to trap in the most heat possible to keep himself warm. Eventually, I lost him in the brush, and he must have flown away.
    I believe I didn’t see many birds because it is so cold out and the space evaluated was mostly open space which birds don’t tend to be in during the colder winter months. When it is warmer there will be more birds around generally, so there will be a higher chance that the next time this spot is used there will be a higher species richness. However, I believe the best time to survey this area would be in the fall when the hay is just about read to harvest. The smaller birds like to jump from stock to stock or find safety within the hay rather than in the open, fully harvested space.

Posted on February 21, 2021 17:59 by catherinegullo22 catherinegullo22 | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment