March 26, 2020

Ecological Physiology on Mt. Philo

March 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM, Mt. Philo State Park, Charlotte, Vermont, habitat was very woodsy with spots cleared for recreational areas such as picnic tables, small restroom buildings, and grill areas. The trees in this habitat were evergreen and deciduous, and in the non-cleared areas, the tree density was variable, due to the large sections of land that were cleared from trees. There was some snow on the ground, but most of it had already melted. The weather was partly cloudy and partly sunny, with a wind speed of about 5 mph in the northeast direction.
There were many interesting patterns that I observed while watching the birds interact with each other. First, when I was sitting at the top of Mt. Philo, I saw one Red-tailed Hawk in flight over the flat, residential area, and as it was flying, it screeched a couple times. Although it was unclear what this individual was trying to communicate through this sound, in just a minute or two, two more hawks joined and the three birds circled for about 5 minutes. It is possible that the screeching bird was a male defending his territory or communicating that there is a food source below.
As I was watching the Black-capped Chickadees and the American Robins, I noticed how different their plumages are, even though they were both in similar habitats. The colors of the Chickadee (black, white, gray) seem to help them become less noticeable, especially when they are in shrubs. On the other hand, American Robins spend some of the year foraging in trees and shrubs, and the other part of the year finding worms and other invertebrates in the ground. Their plumage, grey-brown backs and wings with a rusty-orange belly, may be more helpful for them when they are foraging on the ground in the warmer seasons. This could be because they are not patterned and their colors could closely resemble those of dirt or other earthy mediums.
As I was observing the Red-tailed Hawks circling above in the sky, I found it very interesting to think about what it is they are doing, based on the time of year. After a quick internet search, I learned that they usually migrate back up to Vermont in the first weeks of March, in order to get ready for breeding. It is possible that the individual that was screeching was trying to attract mates, trying to defend his territory, or foraging, but either way, it makes sense knowing about the circannual rhythm of this species.

Posted on March 26, 2020 00:08 by eisloan9 eisloan9 | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 07, 2020

Canada Geese Staying Warm

03/06/2020, 4:30 PM, Stoneleigh-Burnham Riding School in Greenfield, Massachusetts, partly cloudy, about 40 degrees, wind speed= 5 mph North, dry field next to pond.
As I was driving down from Vermont to Connecticut, I noticed a lot of Canada Geese migrating north. I found it odd that they were migrating this early in the year. However, it has been unseasonably warm recently, especially in New England. It is possible that due to the warmer temperatures, the geese are confused, thinking that it is later in the year than it is. This could be problematic if it gets cold again, and the geese are up in Vermont. They are not used to being in the snow for long periods, which is why they migrate south.
When I stopped in Greenfield to get gas, I noticed many geese at the Stoneleigh-Burnham Riding School. When I stopped to observe their behaviors, I noticed that some of the geese were standing on one leg. This helped them preserve their body heat, since they do not have feathers on their legs. Some of the other geese were laying down, which would further help conserve their body heat, because they do not have either of their legs exposed to the cold.
When I kept walking around the campus of the Stoneleigh-Burnham School, I noticed a couple of robins in a neighboring field. They did not seem to be as effected by the cold as the robins did. One of them puffed their feathers on their chest very briefly, but other than that they seemed to carry on their normal activities. The robins I observed were in a bush on the edge of a forest and a field. They seemed to be looking for food. This would differ from their behavior in the spring because in the spring and summer, they would probably be looking in the fields for worms and insects. These creatures would be much more sustainable to eat because they would provide more nutrients and proteins.
It is very interesting to observe the difference in bird behaviors in the winter and the other seasons. Not only do they need to warm themselves but they also have to find different foods to eat and different ways to harvest their energy.

Posted on March 07, 2020 01:45 by eisloan9 eisloan9 | 2 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment

February 19, 2020

Rock Pigeon Flight Patterns

As I was looking for birds around the campus of UVM, I found that I was not having much luck. I predict that this was due to the weather, which was cold and very windy with snow flurries. It would make sense that many birds would stay in their nests when there is a combination of wind and snow, because it would be difficult to fly. However, I went out at a time where the wind was not very rough and I saw this group of Rock Pigeons sitting on top of a building.

This group of Rock Pigeons was stationary for about 15-20 minutes, however, although they didn't move their bodies, I could see their heads moving, as if they were looking around. This could be them communicating with one another or it could be them looking around at the ground for food. Finally, when the group began to fly, I noticed some things that were very distinct in their flight patterns. I noticed that they flap their wings very fast, which could be because they seem to carry a bit more weight than some other birds. This could also be because they do not tend to glide like other birds such as hawks and eagles.

The shape of the Rock Pigeon's wings also seems to have a large effect on the way that they fly. The wings are elliptical. This type of the wing is the most "purpose", so it is not very specialized. This means that the Rock Pigeon is not adapted to high-speed flying or long-distance flying. As a group, this species has a very random flight pattern. Many species of birds are very in sync when flying, and they flap their wings and turn at the same time. However, the Rock Pigeons are very scattered, random, and out of sync. This may be because unlike many other species, they spend a lot of their time on the ground in places where there are a lot of humans, in hopes of finding food. Therefore, they do not need to have an in sync flight pattern.

The Rock Pigeon was a very interesting species to observe, even though they were quite far away and stationary, they have a lot of differences from other species of birds that exist in Vermont.

Posted on February 19, 2020 00:43 by eisloan9 eisloan9 | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment