May 22, 2020

Final Bird

Finishing up the week, my last adventure was to Cadwell Loop found in Pittsford, VT. I arrived around 6:30 am, another beautiful blue sky day starting off at 54 degrees Fahrenheit. I must say, out of all my years growing up around here, I've never been to Cadwell Loop and I must admit some shame. This loop was something out of a fairytale, sun shining through flowering apple trees, the red covered bridge with a steady riverbed underneath it, and an abundance of bird activity greeted you. The birds seemed comfortable in this habitat where I was able to see over 20 species just through my binoculars. My first spot of the morning was an American Redstart, it was on a hanging branch over the trail. A surprising spot to say the least since I finally got to see that amazing colorization that they hold. As I continued, I spotted nearly 10 species in the first few bends of the loop. These included Common Yellowthroat, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, etc. This area was a mixture of meadows, dense deciduous and coniferous woods, wetlands, and shrubbery. It was a great learning opportunity to use our knowledge from class to place a certain species and identify it within their relative habitat. Though I wasn't able to spot any reptiles, I did spot two foraging deer on the edge of a meadow while I was trying to scope out a Gray Catbird. As I made my way back to my car I met a woman named Sue, she and I exchanged some notes from our morning birding and observed a few species around us. It's always a wonderful opportunity to collaborate and gain knowledge from an experienced birder. I am thankful to have met a few experienced birders along my journeys this week and hope to be able to go birding in groups again soon!

Posted on May 22, 2020 23:53 by chey_conn chey_conn | 28 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2020

Free Birding

Pine Hill Park, a natural area filled with hidden gems of vegetation, streams, habitats, and of course, birds! At 6:45 am, I arrived, the air was a brisk 45 degrees Fahrenheit and the sky didn't have a single cloud. I knew it was going to be a good birding day when the first thing I saw when I went outside this morning was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird fly right past my head. I started my journey looping through the lower, middle, and upper trials of Giorgetti park and ended up popping up on Crusher road where there was a strip of powerlines. Aside from the powerlines was an old quarry area that had a couple buildings still intact and an abundance of shrubbery. I spent the first couple hours here where I soon saw who was living around the area. The highlight of my time there was being about 10 feet away from a foraging Eastern Towhee and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Along with those two species, the woodpeckers were going to town, pecking away at a few different trees in the area. After I collected an abundance of recordings from this spot I figured it was time to continue the adventure through Pine Hill Park. Once I was in denser areas with birch, beech, witch hazel, etc. it was a bit harder to get more specific recordings of species. Regardless, today was rich in life and habitats (coniferous, deciduous, mixed, and shrubland); a great day for the birding books.

Posted on May 21, 2020 23:50 by chey_conn chey_conn | 19 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2020

Forest Life

It was a beautiful, blue sky Tuesday morning (6:50 am), May 20, 2020. I'm the first to arrive at Aitken State Forest, soon to be sharing the trail with a couple of older ladies. As they part up the trail for Bald Moutain, I make my way down a different road for about 45 minutes. At first, I was a little discouraged because there wasn't much activity going on except the abundance of chipmunk calls. As I turned around and began my journey up Bald Mountain, that soon changed. It was almost like I was watching a couple's show where there were two Black-capped Chickadees dancing with each other and then right after, two Black-throated Green Warblers. Though, those were the only species I really saw in this dense mixed forest. The forest itself was a beautiful composition of pines, beech, maple, oak, and even a few flowering species like bleeding heart and trillium. Throughout my way up to the peak of the mountain, I heard one Woodpecker going to town on a tree somewhere, unfortunately, I was unable to spot it. I knew it was a Pileated Woodpecker because of it's distinct 'laughing' call, but oh how I wish I was able to see it too. Most of the time I had to wait for a species to send out another call because all my recording would pick up was the loud call of a chipmunk. Though that was one of the biggest challenges today, Aitken State Forest did not disappoint in the number of species I was able to get a good recording on. I hope to go back there soon to see what else it will have in store for me, let alone, see that gorgeous view again.

Posted on May 20, 2020 23:37 by chey_conn chey_conn | 18 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Shrubland and Grassland Life

The date is May 19, 2020, a Tuesday. The destination is about 35 miles from my home base, I set out to the Helen Buckner Preservation Area in West Haven, VT and arrived around 7:30 am. I was unsure if I was even going to be able to bird at this site due to some repaving of the road being done but after waiting a few moments I was able to park at the kiosk in the preservation area. It was a great day to set out for a birding adventure being sunny with only a few clouds and the temperature already being 45 degrees Fahrenheit before 8:00 am. A marsh leads to an abundance of grasslands and shrubs, the perfect spot for a diverse ecosystem. Though it was hard to spot these species, hearing them was unremarkable. My first sporting was a Wood Duck perched up in a tree, a beautiful first species to spot, to say the least. I was able to record some fascinating calls of Blue-winged Warbler, American Bittern, Woodpeckers, etc. Unfortunately, some species like House Wren, Song Sparrow, Osprey, Yellow Warbler, etc. were too quick to capture a photo. Regardless, today's birding adventure was rich in diversity and a great learning opportunity.

Posted on May 20, 2020 00:18 by chey_conn chey_conn | 22 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 18, 2020

Marsh Life

The day is May 18, 2020, a cloudy Monday morning with light rain. As I come down the road that leads to the West Rutland Marsh Boardwalk, I'm encased by wheat growing on either side of me. This boardwalk is one of my favorite spots to catch the sunset and hear/see all the wildlife the marsh holds. The marsh is surrounded by dense forests which makes for an astonishing total landscape. The marsh itself is filled with wheat, cattails, red-dogwood, water iris, a variety of grasses and so much more. As I start my birding experience at 7:09 am, I take in some information listed on the kiosk right before the boardwalk. The main picture is of a Virginia Rail which in text, reads that this is a breeding site for such birds including American Bittern, Least Bittern, and Sora. On the other side of the kiosk, it provides an abundant list of birds that are found at the marsh throughout the whole year. Some of these for the month of May include Canada Goose, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, American Black Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Green Heron, etc. I believe when I first got there I was greeted at the front of the boardwalk by a little swamp sparrow along with an abundance of calls and songs. It was truly a dense ecosystem. I concluded my birding around 11:00 am when a few too many elders came to do the same.

Posted on May 18, 2020 21:24 by chey_conn chey_conn | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 25, 2019

Field Observation #6 Reproductive Ecology and Evolution

The day is Tuesday April 23rd, 2019. A sunny day with some clouds, a high of 62 degrees fahrenheit and lots of birds. Today’s site was in Centennial, right off the main path, to then crossing the bridges and right up the hill past the lone northern white cedar on the right of the trail. Unfortunately, the site I was at had a lot of tall white pines and hemlocks so it was difficult to observe behaviors of the species I was hearing. Apart of those species I hear a couple black-capped chickadee songs where they sounded like they were coming from southeast. The birds were quite noisy when I went to visit my site which makes me wonder about the courtships, territory space, and basic communications in general. I did get to observe an American Robin gathering small leaves and twigs for what I was assuming to be for a nest. Without a doubt a lot of the species I hear were nesting in the tall pines and dense foliage in general. This type of setting allows birds to have shelter from rains and winds through this rainy April. To name some of the species I was hearing, Black-capped Chickadee, Pileated Woodpecker, American Robin, American Crow, Tufted Titmouse, and Northern Cardinal. Three species I compared with their nesting styles were the American Crow, American Robin, and Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated Woodpecker pecks large holes into trees to hold their nest, it is a secure structure for young and the ability to make food pockets right outside the nest is astonishing. American Robin and American crow both stack twigs/small branches from trees to build their nest. American Robins have a finer twig that they prefer to make into a small circular shape for their nest. American Crows use larger twigs/small branches to hold the weight of their babies and a more secure structure.
As I was drawing the circle for the mini-activity, I used my compass to set out a clear path of where the noise might be coming from. If looking at the brook, that would be south whereas going up the hill was west. For the duration that I was there, I heard at least 8 different species. The six that I stated above and two that I couldn’t figure out. European Starling is one that crossed my mind when looking back at what I was writing down for some sort of symbology. I put question marks, which when thinking of a European Starling, it makes sense because their song is different than anything I’ve really heard. I feel as if I would have stayed another ten minutes, there would’ve been more calls/songs that I heard. I know that where I was in Centennial is a common path for people so birds might not want to nest near a populated area. The ones that I heard were clear to me and abundant, I’m still understanding the communications I’m hearing so it’s hard to say individual species that were communicating. Overall, another good birding session for the books.

Posted on April 25, 2019 03:50 by chey_conn chey_conn | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 09, 2019

Field Identification #4 April 8th, 2019


The adventure of the day was to Island Line Trail on Lake Champlain. The date is April7th, 2019; a Sunday. I went at dusk around 6:30pm. I heard about this spot from my ornithology professor because it was such a popular birding site. Going so late in the day allowed me to observe ample species preparing for the night. The aim was to follow the trail on the water to see some Mallards, Gulls, and other waterfowl. I accidently went the wrong way on the trail leading me to the Burlington and Colchester Bridge which I then continued to follow until reaching Delta Park. This lead through swampy, mini forests. There was a high abundance of oak, paired with small ponds and medium grasses. This birding trip brought me calls and songs from all over throughout my entire trip.
Migration is such a fascinating concept to me. The fact that they have learned seasons and resource distribution is amazing; some fly across the entire country to obtain resources they wouldn’t get in Vermont’s winters. Canadian geese for instance, the majority are now permanent residents but with a few exceptions, they migrate to a variety of places. Since there is variety in the way they choose to migrate, this species is facultative. With this, the geese that have chosen to settle here for the winter have less competition for food resource and habitats, allowing them to survive during our harsh winters. Whereas the others that migrate south increase their flock size which is also beneficial due to increased flock size which has an abundance of advantages like protection, more food supply coming in and even guidance for juvenile geese. Snow covers the majority of vegetation for a variety of species. Lots of mammals increase their body fat to survive through another hibernation period whereas avian species do not (except the common poorwill). They collect before the coverage takes over which allows them to survive in blizzards and other winter storms where it’s too dangerous of conditions to forage. With that being said, supplies eventually run short and those who rely on grasses and insects are forced to move somewhere in order to find a food resource. With spring, open lands are defrosted and sprinkled with an abundance of new seeds carried by other species, winds and flooding from the rainy spring months. This makes migrants come back, resources are high again and breeding’s start. As an obligate migrator, there are advantages and disadvantages to migrating to places like Burlington in April. Advantages are migration clocks which carry a variety of protective males which keeps the flock safe when migrating to a new spot where there might be new predators. Competition is one of the largest disadvantages to obligate migrators, with species returning home, they all seem to come around the same time. Establishing territories, resting from the migration, the start of stocking up, and even breeding spots are high for competition. Island Line Trail is one of the best places to examine these changes in species movement, the amount of songs I heard coming from the trees and small flock of Canadian geese was everything you want while on a birding trip.

As I was walking down the trail, I could hear red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, and chickadees. There were so many more that I heard but could not identify. I do believe I found one red-winged blackbird perched in a tree right outside the bridge letting out a single note call. Adjacent to the red-winged blackbird, there were about five or six Canadian geese that seemed like they were almost playing. Skimming the water with their wings stretched was an amazing sight, unfortunately I was unable to capture a video of it because I just watched them for a moment to see what they were actually doing. They were “honking” so loud and consistently, it was such a site. Upon reaching Delta Park, I noticed an information board off to the right. It informed the public of certain plant species they could plant to allow protection from the harsh environment of Vermont’s winters. It also held the names of regular habitants of that area. This included green heron, bald eagle, black-bellied plover and then arctic migrators like snowy owl, northern shrike and tundra swan. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of these species but it’s great to know that they are the regulars of this area. The main species I planned to map their migration routes were the Canadian geese since they were the star of my birding trip. From researching them on All About Birds, I found that they migrate in the summer to a common area called James Bay in between Ontario and Quebec. To migrators that chose to move south usually end up in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. While on Canadian geographic I saw a map of which they called the southern migration the Mississippi flyway for Canadian geese. As it didn’t say much about where in Mississippi, I just used the state as a whole for a landmark when trying to map out the migration pattern of Canadian geese. They would have traveled 1,427 miles from my site to Mississippi. Traveling by car, that takes almost 22 hours, such a small amount of time when comparing the flight of the geese. Avian species go through a variety of obstacles throughout the year and it is completely astonishing the amount of evolution and adaptations that have made our modern species today.

Posted on April 09, 2019 02:33 by chey_conn chey_conn | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 25, 2019

Field Identification #3 March 25, 2019

Cheyanne Connelly
Social Behavior&Phenology
WFB 130

Today is Monday, March 25th, 2019 in good ol’ Burlington, VT. The time is 9:45am, a beautiful blue sky day with some chilly winds hitting my face. I’d guess that the temperature was about 20 degrees fahrenheit, better than these past few weeks of 9 degrees. Today’s location is the Champlain waterfront near the boathouse next to ECHO. All the times I’ve been down this way there has been a plethora of bird activity so why not give it a try today.
Upon my arrival, I kept an eye out for nearby chickadee to try out the “psssh” technique. I went towards dense bush areas of the park nearby to see if I could get any small species to come see what’s up. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to contact anyone except a squirrel that jumped out at me, an interesting experience. After trying to get my heart rate down from the squirrel adventure, I kept trying for about 25 to 30 minutes to see if there was any small birds that would take up my sounds. I feel the pish sound is close to the birds pitch where they may recognize the frequency but not necessarily the song, ultimately making them want to come check it out. For me, I might have had some small birds that heard me yet were too unsure to come check to see what the sound was. While researching exactly what pishing is and how it affects small birds, I realized it's more of a warning call making the flock come together incase of a predator. So a possible reason for the lack of response from my pishing was that in fact, I was the predator.
I began to pay attention to the interactions of other birds I saw while going on the docks. Above I saw one seagull, unsure if it was a ring-billed gull or a herring gull. He/She was letting out one single “sqauh” that sounded either like it was searching for another. The gull continued to do this while circling the waterfront which again, makes me think it was looking for another gull. I wasn’t able to get any good photos of this but I continued to walk around to find some perching birds. As I reached a pier on the waterfront I noticed two rock pigeons on the edge of the concrete. They flew over together yet stood a few feet apart. I’ve attached a couple photos that show the distance they were standing apart. I began to walk slowly and quietly towards them to get a better look at them and their plumage. I spooked the what it appeared to be, the female mate yet the male pigeon stuck around until I was in his face taking photos. The classic metallic green and purple shined in the sun when he turned his back to me. I compare this plumage with the bright white of the gull. Obviously the reasoning behind the vast difference of the gull having a bright white color compared to the gray/iridescent color of rock pigeon, their ancestors have a large effect on what we see today. For gulls, their habits are to be near water where it is receiving a lot of light, thus the light coloration allows body temperature to be more regulated. Their colors are also how they may attract a mate. Other than the calls I have talked about previously, these colors make the male interesting to the female to which they may decide to reproduce. The rock pigeons that I examined did not communicate in call, they simply were standing near each other until my presence disturbed what they might have been doing. Since I went pretty early in the morning, the rock pigeons circannual rhythm meant they were in the most alert stage of the day. While the one pigeon flew away, the other stuck it’s ground looking at me every once in awhile to see if I was truly a threat. I feel as though it is very hard to tell what the animal is truly intending. Their nature is fascinating along with their evolutionary advancements.

Posted on March 25, 2019 16:29 by chey_conn chey_conn | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 08, 2019

Field Identification #2 March 8,2019

On this field observation trip, I journeyed to Wheeler Nature Park in South Burlington. I decided this would be a great spot to go birding because I previously went to this spot in my Vermont History course. We were tracking during that lab which meant following the footsteps of the wildlife that roamed that land. We saw a lot of rabbit evidence whether it be there prints or the pellets, there were an abundance of eastern cottontail. Today, it is shining bright and around 20 degrees fahrenheit. It is March 8th and just around 11:30. I make my way across the little wooden walkway over to a strip of wooded area adjacent to a fallen tree which I will investigate later. I must add, I have been noticing a few Northern Cardinals in my backyard the past few days. When I go let my pup out they’re singing like nobody's business. This Friday morning in particular I saw them chasing around each other trying to figure out what they were trying to accomplish. We’ll get into that a little more in the next section. The last time I was at Wheeler Park I noticed some Pileated Woodpecker markings on a tree when deep in the forest. They were rings around the tree that went down about four or five times spotted with the peckings of the Pileated Woodpecker. I also just assumed it was a Pileated Woodpecker due to the amount of “wuk wuk wuk” songs I was hearing.
Since it is still quite frigid outside, I always wondered how these small species kept warm or what they even did with their lives since all the ground was covered with snow. We learned in class that species will begin to cluster to make a circle of heat, for instance the American Crow. Other possibilities that birds are doing is quite literally shivering, this creates a source of heat as well that will keep the bird alive during most frigid temperatures. Due to the ground not being available to keep an abundance of food sources, birds usually accumulate an amount of food before these winter months. Buckthorn berries are still available for bird species yet doesn’t sit well in their cycle ultimately passing through quickly and not giving up a lot of nutrients, also turning the species droppings blue. A large amount of time is spent resting or sleeping with the group to stay warm and pass the cold days. Staying warm, keeping food abundance and finding a mate are all things that these species are looking for. The ability to reproduce is what drives these birds to do their everyday activities like such. Worms, insects, seeds are not as abundant in the colder months due to inability to access them through amounts of snow. Sticking to what they have accumulated or the leftover berries of trees and other species hiding holes, those are their main source of nutrients. When it comes to sleeping, species during the cold months often huddle in a more closed off space. For instance if there was a large bush in your backyard, you might find a variety of species in it taking cover for overnight snowstorms and winds. Soon species will migrate back to Vermont and grounds will be thawed and the ecosystem will be replenished once again.
Through my walk into wheeler park I noticed quite a few snags where there could be any species from gray squirrel to rabbit to owl taking refuge in it. One thing I’ve noticed is the larger the snag, the larger the cavity, which ultimately makes since. When it eventually hollows out, there is a better chance to find larger animals taking over that space as their new habitat. Since I am journeying through the day and not at night, I do not suspect to see a large abundance of bird species because they are out trying to gather nutrients for the day or trying to connect with others. While trying to tap around cavities in snags, I was honestly a little scared of what might pop out. After trying on about three different cavities finding that no one was home, I went a little further into the woods. I saw some more rings of holes down trees and kept my eye out for a Pileated Woodpecker. I waited around for about another 30 minutes where I was able to hear surrounding species and one call of a Pileated woodpecker but nothing seemed to want to connect with me today. I retreat back to the previous cavities I looked at to see if I was missing anything but again, nothing. Maybe I’ll come back later in the day to see if I can find more species. Species like Pileated Woodpecker or Owl are the most common species I would assume to find in cavities of snags. Snags are so important for our ecosystem to thrive. Providing a safe habitat for species to rest or nest brings peace to the species in order to keep reproducing. Back to the Northern Cardinals I saw in my backyard these past few morning, noticing that there were only three male Northern Cardinals made me wonder. Were they chasing around each other in order to mark the territory? Were they simply assuming themselves in chasing each other around? Is this apart of a territory ritual of some kind? After I watched these birds follow each other and sing to each other I assumed they were just apart of the group they must have formed for over the winter. Maybe I’ll see more accumulate over the days, maybe not.

Posted on March 08, 2019 16:57 by chey_conn chey_conn | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 19, 2019

Field Identification #1 February 20th, 2018

The day is February 19th, one of the colder days in the past week at a high of 19 degrees. Despite the frigid temperatures, the sky is blue sprinkled with a few clouds. I started off on my journey to Ethan Allen Park around 1:00pm to become one with the birds. The habitat I found myself in was filled with great pines, yellow birch, oaks of some kind, etc. To my dismay, I only became one with an American Crow that I saw fly from one tree to another in the corner of my eye. I heard two Tufted Titmouse calling out to one another which I did not expect to hear. The second bird I had heard was an American Robin, a quick but important call. The American Crow that flew showed a quick wide flap to a nearby oak tree. I once had a full backyard of crows nestling in two trees of my backyard; the view was spectacular and a little creepy. They have a pair of slotted high lift wings which allow a wide spread fan to make better turns and allow low speeds. One species that is always compared to the American Crow is the Raven, which has a similar black silhouette and beak size.
A bird’s wings can affect the flight that occurs and what type of habitat it can maneuver around in. For instance the American Crow that I saw was in an open space with a few great pines and oaks in its path. Even though the Crow didn’t move far, the path was shortened when the Crow’s wings flapped to its full capacity. When trying to identify birds, taking in consideration of where you are and the knowledge of different wings play hand in hand. For example, being in an open field you might find yourself looking at a predator bird with high speed wings with a medium ratio. Not only does the type of wing affect its speed but the way it flaps. Some species have a pause in their flapping like the Tufted Titmouse compared to a Black-Capped Chickadee with a rapid flap.
The American Crow being the only bird I physically saw during this adventure showed me that there might be quite a few aspects to why that might be. One being the temperature being below 20 degrees to even the two old dogs that followed behind me. Even though Ethan Allen Park is filled with an assortment of trees, boulders, shrubs and more, the noise pollution may scare off many species. Disturbances like us as humans just trying to identify what’s around us could potentially determine how many birds we actually end up seeing. Hopefully once it warms up a little and canopy coverage becomes more abundant, more species will be back to this forest. When traveling off the path there were more calls, changing my location of the site of birding into where the forest is more of a forest may bring more species to my eyes. Until next time, thank you Ethan Allen Park.

Posted on February 19, 2019 19:24 by chey_conn chey_conn | 0 comments | Leave a comment