March 26, 2020

Field Journal #4

Colin Lach

Walking through Wake Robin Retirement Community on Tuesday March 24th, I was able to identify some birds and observe their behaviors and interactions between each other. The weather at this time had a high of 54 and a low of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny with snow on the ground. The path that I was walking through included mostly forested areas which provided a good opportunity to see a diverse group of birds. My walk and time spent observing lasted a little over two hours from 12:08-2:12.
Throughout my time on the paths of Wake Robin I was unable to identify a single species of bird, it seemed as if the stay home order had affected the birds too as I only saw one bird throughout the entire time. The one bird I saw I was unable to identify however I was able to get a photo of it. To answer the prompts provided I did research online regarding species that I have encountered in the past.
Birds communicate in different ways, the two species that I looked into to learn more about communication were the Black-capped Chickadee and Northern Cardinal. I learned that when a Black-capped Chickadee is trying to communicate aggression or anxiety they will fluff up their feathers and dance around as well they may approach with their beaks open. Northern Cardinals use mostly songs and body signals to communicate with each other. Male and female cardinals use “chip” calls to keep contact with their mates to signal alarm.
I could not find much information regarding the plumage of Black-capped Chickadees and Northern Cardinals, however both of these birds have very different colors showing the diversity that can exist within a single environment.
As I observed in my last field journal and researched more this week many of these birds are changing their behaviors due to colder weather or starting to exit this stage. Black-capped Chickadees fluff their feathers to insulate themselves from the cold by keeping warmth in. Aswell Black-capped chickadees along with many other birds stash food for the winter in preparation for the lack of food available. During the winter Northern Cardinals seek shelter in trees, specifically evergreens. They group together in pairs to maintain warmth and they are found to be a much brighter red during this season.
Overall this birding trip was not the most successful in terms of observations, however given the weird times we are living in it was very freeing and relaxing to get away from all of it and just spend a couple hours walking through nature. I look forward to future trips as the temp starts to warm up and am excited to see the changes in behavior and appearance of many of the birds I have already identified. Birds communicate in very unique and interesting ways and after learning what I have I am excited to see it all in person.

Unknown Bird x1

Posted on March 26, 2020 03:39 by colinlach colinlach | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 07, 2020

Field Journal #3

Walking through Shelburne Bay Park on Thursday March 5th, I was able to identify some birds and observe their behaviors in their natural environment. Because it is still winter I was able to witness behaviors that are specific to the season, the weather was roughly 40 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny with minor clouds. The path that I was walking through included semi-vegetated and forested areas which provided a good opportunity to see a diverse group of birds. My walk and time spent observing lasted a little over an hour and a half from 12:20-1:57.
Throughout my time on the paths of Shelburne Bay Park I was able to identify an ok amount of birds however many of the species were heard not seen as I was able to identify a number of birds by calls or songs. I saw a number of Black-capped Chickadees (6) as well as heard and saw two separate pairs of Blue Jays (4). Towards the end of my walk I was able to identify a pair of Northern Cardinals (2) and what I believe to be a small group of European Starling, although I was not able to confidently identify them as such I will leave them out of my reported sightings. While walking I observed these birds behaviors, to gain a better understanding of the steps they take to survive during the winter.
The birds that I observed were all very active and flying around almost constantly, this is something that I found surprising because I expected them to be saving their energy to remain warm in the cold weather. However after doing research when I got home I saw that this is a strategy birds use to build up warmth in their bodies by staying active. As well when landing I noticed the Black-capped Chickadees had been fluffing their feathers, this insulates them better from the cold keeping warmth in. This makes sense to me as a strategy as I recall when seeing Northern Cardinals or Blue Jays at my feeder they seemed to be extra fluffy or larger than usual.
The activeness of these birds could as well be equated to time spent hunting or looking for food, the birds that I was able to identify spend their time looking for seeds, berrys or insects. I’m sure because of the weather they must have to spend more time looking for food as it is less available but in the more forested area of the paths I did see a lot more sources of food. During the summer seasons I’m sure they would have a much easier time finding berries and nuts. As well I read online when I got home that Black-capped chickadees along with many other birds stash food for the winter in preparation for the lack of food available. This intelligent strategy provided yet another reason to why I love Black-capped Chickadees.
When thinking about where these birds would spend their time sleeping overnight, I assumed that they would group in the more forested areas in the trees. This provided more shelter and maybe more warmth for them as well as protection from other birds. I noticed that it was hard for me to identify birds in the more forested areas even though I knew they were there based on calls and songs. The fact that I couldn’t find them provided me with evidence that it would be a much safer place to spend your time.
Overall this was a successful field trip and provided me with a lot of new knowledge and excitement to do it again. Shelburne Bay Park provided a diverse set of environments and along with it a diverse set of birds, I look forward to going there again as seasons change. I was not able to capture any pictures of birds or recordings as my phone died during the hike, I will make sure this doesn't happen next time when I go.

Black-capped Chickadee x6
Blue Jay x4
Northern Cardinal x2
European Starling? x5

Posted on March 07, 2020 01:15 by colinlach colinlach | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 18, 2020

Field Journal #2

While watching birds in my backyard in Shelburne Vermont I was able to identify several birds gathered around the bird feeder. This time of observation started at 12pm and lasted roughly an hour. The weather was 27 degrees Fahrenheit with a slow breeze heading to the north. The goal of this observation time was to gain a better understanding of basic flight patterns and I felt a bird feeder would be the easiest way to do this rather than walking a trail.
While observing the birds I started to pay close attention to their distinct flight patterns and behaviors. Specifically the two species I observed were the Northern Cardinal and Black-Capped Chickadee. These are species that can be quite regularly found at the bird feeder during this time of year. When watching the Northern Cardinal’s flight patterns I noticed that they alternated flaps of their wings often pulling their wings all the way to their sides. When observing the Black-Capped Chickadees I noticed they quickly moved from spot to spot with rapid wing flaps. However when Chickadees would fly longer they would flap their wings in rhythmic patterns dipping down and rising back up after each flurry of flaps.
This pattern of flight by Black-Capped Chickadees could be used in future field observations in the wild where the birds will not be inclined to hang around something like the feeder. For Cardinals their color makes it quite easy for them to be identified however for female Cardinals this flight pattern could aid in identifying this species while in the wild.
In total four types of birds were found gathered around the feeder: Northern Cardinal, Black-Capped Chickadee, House Sparrow and Dark-Eyed Junco. There are many reasons that only a few species were seen during my time observing the bird feeder. The most obvious being the location, in such an open spot with little vegetation it was not likely for me to see a very diverse group of birds. Only the birds that are small enough and comfortable visiting the feeder would be likely to be seen there. If I were to explore this area more in depth I would venture in to the forest more and locate birds away from the feeder. There is quite a lot of trails around my neighborhood and I think I would have a lot more luck finding a more diverse group and greater number of birds there.

Posted on February 18, 2020 23:47 by colinlach colinlach | 4 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment