Field Journal 2: ID and Flight Physiology

I went out with Allan's field trip group Saturday morning, leaving at around 9:05 am. It was sunny and partly cloudy, with a 5-10 mph NW wind and a temperature of 21 degrees Fahrenheit. When we returned at 10:38 am, the sky had become fully cloudy and the temperature had raised to 23 degrees. We walked through Athletic campus, Redstone, and down South Prospect St. This was a mostly urban/suburban area, with a few more wooded areas around Redstone. One particular area was the Redstone Woods, just across from the church. This is area is made up of mostly Eastern White Pines and we saw a few birds here. Going down S. Prospect St. there more scattered trees, mostly deciduous but also some pines and spruces.

At one point in this excursion, while in front of the Southwick music building on Redstone campus, a group of maybe three or four Ring-billed gulls flew over us, coming from the direction of the water. I know that gulls have high aspect ratio wings, which are good for endurance and gliding, which fits their lifestyle. If they're going to be living most of their lives over water, it's important to be able to glide and dive easily, although personally I can't think of a time when I've seen a gull actually diving for fish. Most of the time its just trash.

Compare this to American Crows, which have low aspect ratio wings that are better for breaking and maneuvering. Crows may often have to swoop down to grab prey and these wings would be best for that. I also noticed that when crows are flying, they don't seem to glide at all, they just flap their wings over and over again. My guess is that this style of flying is more going faster over shorter distances by using more energy and gliding less.

Posted by emma2forsythe emma2forsythe, February 22, 2021 23:02

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

Seen in a tree on UVM Athletic Campus, making a clicking sound, maybe clicking its beak?

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

three birds, two were flitting around lower branches, the third was sitting very very still on the lowest branch of a crabapple tree. It seemed like it wasn't even breathing, probably out of fear.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

Two ravens flying overhead.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

High up in a white pine in a stand. Chipping away at the trunk.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

at least 20 sitting on the grass.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

four birds flying overhead.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

sitting on a transformer box on a telephone line.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

at least six individuals flying between bushes.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Goldfinch Spinus tristis

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

flitting between lower branches of a maple tree.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Redpoll Acanthis flammea

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

flitting between lower branches of a maple tree.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

in an old maple tree.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

In an old maple tree.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

flitting between two rhododendron bushes.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

emma2forsythe

Date

February 20, 2021

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Description

A male and female in a bush, maybe courting?

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