April 30, 2019

Field observation #7

I took a walk to North Beach along the bike path, and then hiked up to Lone Rock Point to look for birds for the observations this week. I started my walk on April 28th around 1 pm. I stayed until around 3:30 pm, and saw many different birds on this sunny day with a temperature around 60 degrees with no wind.

Posted on April 30, 2019 21:53 by kaschmec kaschmec | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 22, 2019

Journal Entry #6

I decided to go for a bird walk in Centennial Woods on Sunday April 21nd. It was almost 70 degrees outside, one of the warmest days in Burlington so far this season, not too windy, and partly cloudy. Because of this I thought it would be the perfect day to see and hear as many birds as I could. I went around 11:30 am until 1:20 pm.
The first thing I noticed after walking through the entrance to Centennial was how much more vocal the birds were compared to last time I was there. I immediately heard many different birds calls; some I could not identify. The ones that were easy to distinguish right away were the calls of the Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, and Canada Geese.
The first bird I saw was a Pileated Woodpecker. This was a cool experience for me because I had never seen one before! I noticed it immediately by the distinct red on its head. It was up in the tree canopy and was staying relatively still, other than moving its head occasionally. I was kind of far from it so it didn't seem to notice me. It was alone and the only activity it seemed to do related to mating was make its distinct chattering once, awhile after I started watching it.
When I got to a large clearing in the path towards the middle of Centennial, I heard what sounded like angry squawking and chirping right above me. They were being extremely vocal. I looked up to see two Red-winged Blackbirds which appeared to be flying through the sky while fighting, pecking, and ramming into each other. They were definitely participating in some agonistic behavior that was definitely related to fighting over mating territory. This is common to see in this species, where the males fight with other males over territory in the beginning of the mating season.
I saw and heard many American Robin during my walk, and observed that they stayed mostly towards the outer edge of the woods area. This made sense, because they seem to prefer more residential areas instead of the more deeply wooded area. I tried looking for Robin nests low in evergreen trees along the outer edge habitat of Centennial but failed to find any that had already been constructed. I did see multiple pairs of American Robins during my walk. This seemed different than earlier in the season when I would see them usually alone or occasionally in a bigger group.
I saw three cardinals during my walk, all spaced pretty far apart but all out in the open. They were all males and seemed to have already claimed their territory spots, probably showing themselves and looking for a mate. They were higher up in the trees that didn't have any leaves on them, they seemed to be out in the open with a purpose. They did not make any sounds while I was observing them, but I did hear the call of one close to me as I was leaving the woods.
After doing the mini activity, I was surprised to notice a real pattern in some of the symbology on my sheet of paper. I tried to do this activity on one side of Centennial instead of more towards the middle, in a place where there was varied habitat, hoping to hear many different species. I hearD the call of many american robin, probably 4 different individuals. They were all in more of the edge habitat towards one portion of my circle. I saw one individual. The other call I heard coming from all directions, and were all close to me surrounding me on my map were Black-capped Chickadees. I saw two but heard probably six different individuals.

Posted on April 22, 2019 20:52 by kaschmec kaschmec | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 15, 2019

Mt. Philo- Field Observation #5

I visited Mount Philo on April 14th to do some bird watching. I saw many species listed under my observations. I saw an unfamiliar small bird that I took a picture of. I believe it may be a Dark-eyed Junco.
The weather as somewhat warm and partly cloudy, and I began my walk around 2:45 pm.

Posted on April 15, 2019 18:36 by kaschmec kaschmec | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2019

Burlington Urban Reserve-Migration Entry #4

My next birding experience took place at Burlington's Urban Reserve. It took place on Sunday April 7th from 3 pm until about 4:50. It was warm out but overcast and was around 51 degrees. There was a decent amount of wind which could have contributed to the scarcity of birds that I saw despite the warm weather. I assumed that I would have seen more, since there are usually many species down there.
Before I entered the wooded area, I noticed and heard a huge flock of about 10-11 crows flying around, they were all calling very loudly. Crows can be resident species in Vermont but also can have short migratory routes as well. This could explain why I have been seeing many flocks on American Crows these past two weeks. They could have just migrated back to the area from a nearby warmer climate.
Soon after that and throughout my walk through the reserve I noticed three black-capped chickadees. All three were alone spread throughout different trees, and they were definitely not in migration considering they are a resident species and are here year round. Black-capped chickadees have adapted to be able to change their foraging behavior and diet throughout the seasons and can even store food. This makes it so they are not forced to migrate to warmer climates and instead can forage for foods such as seeds instead of living things like bugs. Another important adaptation that helps them stay in Vermont year round is their ability to undergo facultative hypothermia when necessary.
One species I have been noticing a lot more around Burlington is the Cedar Waxwing, a species which is migratory to Vermont and not a resident species. I happened to see a flock of about 8-10 two seperate times during my walk. They prefer warmer climates and are migrating back around this time of year after a long winter that is hopefully over. They could have migrated as far as Mexico. Another bird that I have been seeing in flocks often this month is the Canada Goose. They have been flying in a distinct V-shape overhead which could mean they are also returning from a migration south. I have also been seeing many more gulls out and about(Ring-billed and Herring).
After doing the Mini Activity, I was very impressed with how far some birds travel for their migratory routes. I found out that the Cedar Waxwings I saw could have traveled over 3,600 miles to get here! If the Canada Goose flock traveled South for their migration, they could have traveled almost 1,500 miles to get here, possibly as far as Alabama.

Posted on April 08, 2019 19:15 by kaschmec kaschmec | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 14, 2019

Hopkins Pond-Journal Entry #3

I decided to head out to do some birding on Wednesday, March 13th over spring break. I visited Hopkins Pond in Haddonfield, New Jersey at 2:28 until 4:00 pm. The weather was a very nice 51 degrees, it was sunny for the first hour which is when I saw the most birds, and then after that the clouds came in making it a little cooler outside with less bird activity. The habitat consisted of a small pond with some trees/wooded area and a walking path around the entire circumference of the pond. Through a small patch of trees on one side of the ponds, there is a road and elementary school about 50 ft. away which added some occasional noise of screaming children and cars to the otherwise quiet and serene pond ecosystem.
Before I even got to the entrance of the pond walking trail, I spotted a huge flock of Canada geese in a field right next to the entrance. There were about 12 walking around, and it seemed as if they were foraging around in the grass. They all seemed to be doing the same exact thing, yet they were not really interacting with each other. When I first started walking through the woods, I heard the familiar cackle of the White-breasted Nuthatch, which sounded very close to where I was standing. I looked up in a nearby tree and immediately spotted two of them, hopping together from tree to tree. It seemed as if they were cackling to each other, and one immediately followed the other into its previous position if the first one moved. They seemed to be unusually small compared to White-breasted Nuthatches i have seen in the past, but it could have just seemed that way because they were very high up in the tree.
I then walked down to the edge of the water and after a few minutes a pair of Mallards swam leisurely by me, so close that if I reached down I could probably touch them. I sat down to observe them at a deeper level and to see how they interacted with each other. There was one male and one female and both were synchronized together and moving at a very slow pace. I did not hear them make any noises, but they were swimming as close to shore as possible and seemed to be foraging in the mud with their beaks. I found it very interesting to compare the plumage and coloring of the male and female of the same species. As I watched them their very different and distinct coloring was making a lot of sense to me. The male Mallard needed his bright purple and green coloring in order to attract a mate. The female on the other hand was very dull brown with spots and looked almost like the colors of dead leaves or twigs. This would make sense, because it could act as a form of camouflage in the brush when the ducks are nesting.
As I trekked further into the muddy swampy area, the large wingspan of the Turkey Vulture caught my eye. I looked up and immediately spotted another one trailing right behind it. They were both soaring overhead, and appeared to be doing loops over and underneath each other. They seemed very in sync, and they were definitely looking for prey as they glided around and dove through the trees.
During my walk, I also heard the Black-capped Chickadee call a few times, but I was not able to spot where the call was coming from. I saw and heard the shriek of multiple Blue jays, two of which I saw hopping around and perching on branches in a large bush and tree. I saw and heard three very small Tufted Titmice, none of which were together in the trees. I saw four American Robins on my walk which were darting from bush to bush seemingly in a small flock. They seemed like they were definitely traveling in a pack. My most exciting observation by far was towards the end of my walk. As I was about to leave the trail entrance to the pond, I heard the loud clicking of the Belted Kingfisher. I ran back to the pond and was able to follow the call to a nearby tall tree at the water's edge. I had never seen one before while knowing what it was, and it seemed a little larger than I had pictured it being.
I did not have much luck with attracting any birds with the mini-activity, I can see how if done correctly a bird could mistake the “pishhhh” noise for either another bird or bug. When I did it, it seemed like I was too close to the birds and they all flew away and seemed scared by the noise. I tried this activity on both the American robins and the tufted titmice that I observed.

Posted on March 14, 2019 17:51 by kaschmec kaschmec | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 07, 2019

Oakledge Park- Journal Entry #2

On Sunday March 3rd it was a very sunny and warmish(36 degrees F) day. There was no wind with only a few clouds in the sky. We decided to take a trip to Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT for our second bird observation journal outing. It was in the morning, around 11 am.
The first bird we observed while first starting to walk and explore around Oakledge Park was a black-capped chickadee. We identified this individual by sight, as it was rustling around in the nearby tree. Its distinct black and white coloring caught our eye right away after hearing the branches shaking around, and then we were able to identify it. We assumed that the chickadee could have been engaging in this behavior of moving around in the brush to keep warm while looking for lingerings seeds on or below the tree that may have fallen onto the ground. After we observed this bird for a few minutes we heard the distinct call of another nearby Black-capped chickadee. We hypothesized that these two birds could have been communicating about food availability, and perhaps the one we heard found some seeds on the grounds. At night on colder days, it is common for this species to engage in facultative hypothermia to save their energy and conserve body heat so they do not freeze to death.
The next bird we observed was the Northern Cardinal. It was exhibiting similar behavior as the last one we saw on our first outing in Centennial. It was hopping from branch to branch up and down and taking short flights in a patch of pine trees. This is where we saw our first snag close by the patch of pine trees. Surprisingly there were no real cavities in the snag. This could be due to the fact that it was very small in size, about 10 feet and no significant species could make this their home.
While walking around on the outskirts of the trees closest to the water, a Herring gull appeared over our heads and was gliding through the air. It was easy to determine the wing type of the species, high aspect, while it was soaring overhead. During this time walking on the outer edge of the trees, we did not see many dead snags with cavities. We observed six in total, all which were deeper in the woods. Four of these snags had cavities in the trees. We tapped on one of these trees that seemed like it had died quite some time ago, and had many big holes. Unfortunately, nothing poked its head out at us, so we thought that maybe the species that had once resided there had left, or the holes were caused by termites that were no longer there. Snags provide great habitat for not only birds such as woodpeckers, but also provide a home for small mammals such as squirrels, especially in wintertime.
All of the birds we saw at Oakledge seemed to be very active which is unusual in the winter. We thought this was probably because of the warmer weather that we were experiencing that day. Instead of having to conserve their body heat that day because of freezing temperatures, the birds seemed to be focusing on feeding and taking advantage of the warmth and sun-filled day.

Posted on March 07, 2019 20:35 by kaschmec kaschmec | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 13, 2019

Centennial Woods Natural Area-Journal Entry #1

On February 4th 2019, Centennial Woods seemed like the perfect place to look out for some common North American bird species that we had just learned about in Ornithology a couple days prior. It was around 1:15 pm and a cloudy but warmer day(42 degrees F) for February in Vermont. After trying to be as quiet and discreet as we could so as to not scare away any birds that were close by, we sat down by a stream deep in the middle of Centennial. After about 25 minutes we heard the real life chirping of three Male Northern Cardinals and eventually spotted them in a nearby tree. They seemed to all be in the same tree or same tree stand, while interacting with each other using their calls back and forth. We knew that they were male right away since we learned that females have a more dull coloring to their feathers compared to the bright red of the males.
The Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) we saw seemed to have a very short flight pattern from one place to another and they seemed to almost hop from branch to branch. If it flew a longer distance like into another nearby tree it would beat its wings very rapidly. They have rounded smaller wings which would explain why they had a quick wing beating pattern when flying short distances instead of a gliding pattern, like the Blue Jay(Cyanocitta cristata) that we saw. They seemed to have more expansive wings that helped them to glide through the air longer distances and have longer, fewer and more steady wing beats. This difference seemed to be very slight though, as both species are similar sized with similar wings and flying patterns.
We ended up staying in Centennial Woods for approximately an hour and a half that day. All in all, I felt that it was a pretty successful bird ID outing considering we spotted and heard a decent number of birds varying in species. We were more successful at spotting species that day than we had originally thought going into the trip, considering we walked down at mid-day and there were many people out and about and walking by us pretty frequently. Although we saw many people, we tried finding a pretty remote location with dense canopy cover more towards the middle section of the woods away from the trail entrances. We think this success of finding species could have been attributed to the warmer temperature that day compared to the below freezing temperatures that were well into the negatives in the previous days that weekend/week. The birds seemed happy with the weather and were excited to be out and about!

Posted on February 13, 2019 16:26 by kaschmec kaschmec | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment