Field Observation 4: Migration

On my previous birding excursion, I went to Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge in my hometown of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. I had spotted an abundance of birds and a variety of species that day and, as a result, I decided to venture out there again for this week's field observation. I drove out to the wildlife refuge on March 14, 2019 at approximately 12:30 PM. It was a beautiful day: the sky was clear, the wind was minimal, and the temperature was about 40 degrees. I went back out to around the same spot I had seen the most diversity of birds. This was located on the banks of Connecticut River and had a forest area beyond it.

During my time, I spotted dozens of Canada Geese, dozens of Mallards, a pair of Mute Swans (who I presume were the same pair I had seen on my previous birding excursion), a Song Sparrow, a male Red-bellied Woodpecker, a male Northern Cardinal, a House Sparrow, a few Red-winged Blackbirds, and a Red-tailed Hawk. Of these species, Mute Swans, Song Sparrows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, and House Sparrows are resident species. Many of these species are able to survive the harsh winters of the Northeast because their food sources are typically seeds or bugs that live beneath the tree bark. In addition, some birds have the ability to undergo facultative hypothermia.

A facultative migrant that might be arriving in Burlington nowadays, is the Red-tailed Hawk. Their year-round range extends all the way down south to just the middle of Vermont; the remaining part of Vermont (including Burlington) is considered a breeding region for the Red-tailed Hawk. These birds might be arriving back from regions that are further south, due to their food source becoming more abundant as we reach springtime. Being a migrant that arrives back in early April can have its advantages and disadvantages. For one, April in the northeast is probably the most unstable month in terms of weather and could pose a risk to migrants due to the fact that freezing temperatures or snow could do some damage to the foods the birds feed upon. On the other hand though, arriving in early April could also give these birds their first choice at a prime nesting site.

For the mini activity, I used Google Maps to calculate that the total miles the migrant birds I saw at Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge may have traveled from their wintering grounds to arrive here. From my calculations, one rough estimate might be 658 miles.

Posted by emquirk emquirk, April 08, 2019 17:12

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:22 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:24 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019

Photos / Sounds

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What

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:08 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019

Photos / Sounds

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What

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:09 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:11 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:12 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

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What

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:13 PM UTC

Photos / Sounds

What

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 14, 2019 12:33 PM EDT

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