Journal archives for April 2020

April 09, 2020

Field Journal 6 - Migration

For my birding trip I went to the Cheslin Nature Preserve in Embreeville, Pennsylvania. The skies were very clear and it was a warm day in the mid-60s on Monday, April 6. I was out from about 5:30-7:20 to see the birds at dusk. I saw a lot of very interesting birds and heard more that I couldn’t even begin to identify.
Some of the highlights were hearing a Brown Thrasher singing a mimicking call from the top of a tree and counting 8 Ruby-Crowned Kinglets bouncing between a few Eastern red cedars. The Thrasher was singing the entire time I was at the preserve, it was in the same tree that I passed on my way in as I was leaving. There were also many year-round and short distance migrating species; including three different types of woodpeckers and one of my favorite birds, an Eastern Towhee. On such a warm spring day, it was clear that the birds were enjoying the weather and the season as much as I was!
Some of the year-round species that I saw while out on my birding trip were the Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Mourning Dove, Downy, Wood Pecker, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpecker. For the first three species listed, they are generalists and have very adaptable diets, therefore, not requiring them to migrate where their preferred food source is. On the other hand, the woodpeckers have very specific food sources (despite Northern Flickers being more variable) that are present year-round.
The facultative migrant I chose to look into is the Hermit Thrush. It is leaving the its wintering grounds for the Northern United States and Canada very soon, here in Pennsylvania we lie at the northern edge of its wintering range. Their migration is marked by a change in their diets. In the winter, they rely mainly on fruit with some insects, but, as the seasons change and the northern insects begin to breed and hatch, the Hermit Thrush takes advantage of this and migrates. It has an extensive range all the way across North America and from Guatemala to Alaska. The only obligate migrate that I came across was the American Goldfinch. This bird is a partial facultative with some tendency to stay more Northern during the breeding season where the seed crops are very plentiful. In total, the migrants that I saw on my birding trip flew 4,032 miles just to see me!

Posted on April 09, 2020 02:37 by lukebeeson lukebeeson | 11 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 15, 2020

Field Journal 7

I went to the Stroud Preserve in Chester County, Pennsylvania on April 15 from about 4:30 to 6:30. The weather was about 60 degrees and overcast. The day before it had been extremely raining and the rivers in the area had flooded considerably, closing several roads around the preserve. The flooding included the grass and brushy habitats around the small river in the preserve. When I went out the water had subsided from the fields except for a few standing pools.

Posted on April 15, 2020 22:38 by lukebeeson lukebeeson | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 22, 2020

Field Journal 8

For this birding trip, I went to the Stateline Wood Preserve in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania from 7:30-9:00 am on April 22. The weather was sunny and mid-40s and the habitat was open farmland, grassland, and deciduous forests. I started walking through grasslands and some brushy edge habitat and went through a forest, up a pipeline clearing, and through a farmed field.
Many of the species I observed preferred nesting in edge and brushy habitat or in cavities. I saw many different species calling from their defended territories. It was interesting to see how the relative density of the species and territory size was quite easily observable. I saw many Red-winged Blackbirds calling from the tall grass of the open fields while the sparrows mostly called from different areas of brush. The blackbirds were exclusive to the middle of the fields or high in edge trees while the Chipping, Song, and Field Sparrows were somewhere between the ground of the cleared field and edge brush while the White-throated Sparrows were in the forest or on the edge brush.
It seems that the Red-winged Blackbirds calling from the middle of the fields tended to fight with each other more, perhaps indicating that this was a more desirable habitat. This may indicate that they have higher fitness than those calling from the tops of trees along the fields. Also, the Eastern Bluebirds that I saw were gathering grass from the plowed field. Most likely to fill their tree cavity or bird box that they nested in.

Posted on April 22, 2020 23:04 by lukebeeson lukebeeson | 16 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment