Journal archives for February 2020

February 18, 2020

Field Journal Post 1: ID and Flight Physiology

On Monday, February 17 between 10:15 and 2:00 I went on a hike up Hurrican Mountain from Route 9 in the Adirondack Park. There were about 2 feet of snow on the ground, the sky was clear blue with some scattered clouds, and it was around 20-30 degrees. The mountain is a variety of mixed-forests, young striped maple stands, and a bald summit.
As we began to hike we saw a flock of Black-capped Chickadees along the road, indicating their generalist status and ability to thrive in edge habitats. As we went further into the woods we came across a few more small groups of chickadees and would always pause until they moved on in search of other birds that may be attracted to the Chickadees. This is how we were able to see the first Red-breasted Nuthatch and female Hairy Woodpecker.
We stopped for lunch on the summit but saw nothing considering it was mid-day and quite windy. On the way back down we heard the high pitched call of the Cedar Waxwing but were unable to see it through the trees. We also saw a few more groups of Chickadees and a last Red-breasted Nuthatch, this time by itself.
Because they were so prevalent we spent quite a while observing Black-capped Chickadees. They have very compact bodies and wings and fly in seemingly very fast, jerking motions. They seem to be best suited for dense forests and brush because they are so adept at flying between branches and trees and landing on very small branches. I have often identified these birds by their quick, sporadic flight patterns and by the fact that they are so often doing it in small groups. On the other hand, the Hairy Woodpecker flew quickly to branches but did it far less often and much more smoothly. This is most likely tied to feeding habits. While the Black-capped Chickadees must search quickly for objects to feed on along branches or on the ground the Woodpeckers are able to take their time tapping into trees looking for food.
It seems that there was not an exorbitant amount of birds out and this may be on account of the time of day. On my drive over to New York, I saw an unknown hawk, many Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, European Starlings, and various other birds because it was much earlier in the morning. The habitat seemed perfect for birds and the weather was beautiful so I am unsure if this had much of an impact.

Posted on February 18, 2020 22:51 by lukebeeson lukebeeson | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment