Field Journal #3 (March 25th)

Due to the COVD-19 pandemic, I was restricted to my front and backyard at my parents’ home in Lincoln Park, New Jersey for this bird walk. I started my bird walk at 5 pm, and it lasted until 6:45 pm. It was sunny with a few clouds in the sky. The temperature outside was warmish, about 50 degrees, with little to no wind. There were many birds out in the open, and many calls and songs could be heard in the distance. Two areas were walked through. One was a wooded wetland area with an acre pond. The other was a suburban street lined with houses on both sides with a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees on the lawns.

There were many more birds this time around. I first started on my front lawn, where I saw a congregation of 5 European Starlings at the top of a dead tree. In a tree next to the dead one, I also saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was pecking at a few spots and kept moving to different spots on the tree. After a few minutes, I saw a pair of Mourning Doves flying from tree to tree, and then, finally, rest on some powerlines. Satisfied that I observed the birds in this location, I ventured to the wetland/wooded pond area. On the way down the hill to the pond, I spotted two Dark-eyed Juncos. They landed on a tree branch for a few seconds and took off again. As I approached the pond, I saw two large birds flying overhead. The first one landed on the pond's edge, where I identified it as a Great Blue Heron. The second one landed soon after. They landed on opposite sides of the pond, and each was searching the water and ground for food. I tried to get closer to take a good picture, but they flew off as I got closer. I returned to my front lawn, where I tried pishing to attract more birds. A Blue Jay must not have liked it very much, because it flew from the pond area to my lawn with its crest fully risen. After checking me out, it flew back to were it came from. I then went onto my back deck, where I had a clear view of the entire pond area to see if the Great Blue Herons had returned. They had not, but I did spot two Carolina Wrens perched on a sugar maple tree.

Most of the birds that I observed were either in pairs or a group, except for the Blue Jay. I think this normal for the season because it is approaching breeding season for birds. The pairs that I saw were mostly flying with each other in circles. I believe that this was an act of courtship. I also saw the Mourning Doves preening themselves and each other, which I also think is an act of courtship. The use of display cues was very observable in the Blue Jay. I remember from class that the angle of a Blue Jay's crest can indicate its alertness/aggression. I don't think he liked the noise of my pishing, and this is why it approached me with its crest fully risen. The plumage on the birds I was were all very different, except for the Mourning Doves and the Carolina Wrens, which have similar brown coloration. The brown coloration helps both species hide from predators by camouflaging them into their surroundings. The Red-bellied Woodpecker has very bright red feathers on the top of its head, most likely used for mating displays, much like how the Great Blue Heron's filoplumes are used to attract mates.

Towards the end of my bird walk, I tried to entice any birds that were hiding in trees to come out by pishing. I tried it on my front lawn, where I saw the European Starlings, Mourning Doves, and Red-bellied Woodpecker. It did not seem to make any other come any closer, but it did get the attention of a Blue Jay. It flew from the pond area to my front lawn when I started to pish. Pishing is a high pitched repetitive noise that is thought to mimic the alert calls used by some birds to tell others around the area that there is a predator around. Birds will either flock to the area to drive the predator away or retreat to hiding. I believe that that is why the Blue Jay came towards me with its crest fully risen. I didn't want to stress the birds in the area out any more than I already had, so I stopped after attracting the Blue Jay.

List of Birds Seen:
- 5 European Starlings
- 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
- 2 Mourning Doves
- 2 Dark-eyed Juncos
- 2 Great Blue Herons
- 3 American Robins
- 2 Carolina Wrens
- 1 Blue Jay

Posted by climpert climpert, March 26, 2020 01:37

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

Two Carolina Wrens were seen on the branches of a maple tree

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

Three American Robins were seen foraging on lawns

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

After pishing, one Blue Jay flew from far away trees with its crest fully risen

Photos / Sounds

What

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

A group of five European Starlings was at the very top of a dead tree

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

A pair of Mourning Doves were seen flying from trees and powerlines

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

A pair of Dark-eyed Juncos were seen flying and then landed on a tree

Photos / Sounds

What

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

One Great Blue Heron was seen flying over a pond, and then landed at its edge. A second one then landed soon after.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus

Observer

climpert

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen pecking at a dead tree.

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