Field Observation 2: Ecological Physiology

On March 3rd at 11:30 a.m., I examined the bird species present at Oakledge Park for 90 minutes. The weather was slightly cool (about 36 degrees), but sunny, which made it feel much warmer, and a light breeze. The slightly warmer weather and the presence of water nearby could have influenced more bird species to be present than at other sites. I walked through several trails in the wooded areas of the park, stopping continuously to note the various bird species. During that time interval, I saw a Northern Cardinal and a Herring Gull. Two Black-capped Chickadees were observed, one by sound and one by sight.
The Black-capped Chickadee seen was in the underbrush of a tree, seemingly rustling his feathers, which could be a mechanism for the bird to keep warm. The bird was most likely resting to save its energy for foraging, since Chickadees practice foraging less during the colder seasons. The other Chickadee observed by sound was heard shortly after the first was spotted, where we heard the classic chicka-dee-dee-dee call. It is difficult to know for sure, but I assumed the second Chickadee was signaling to the other that there is food nearby, since Chickadees commonly forage in flocks. During the night when temperatures get too cold for Chickadees, the birds most likely induce facultative hypothermia, in which their body temperature drops and they exhibit little movement.
After about 20 minutes of walking and observing, a Northern Cardinal was seen about halfway up a Pine tree, making short flights from branch to branch. It was moving slightly up and down and hoping from branch to branch of a handful of trees. The Cardinal was most likely putting more energy into foraging because of the slightly warmer temperature. While observing the Northern Cardinal, a dead snag was seen nearby, but no cavities were spotted. The snag was somewhat small, an estimated 10 feet, which might explain why no cavities were present, since animals would need a larger area to make their home.
While walking close to the water, a Herring Gull was seen gliding overhead, which I could identify by the high aspect wing shape. It is unsurprising that a Gull was seen near a body of water, because this species usually nests near coasts. I am still not completely positive that it is a Herring Gull, because of the very similar shape and color of the Ring-billed Gull, and at a distance, it was hard to spot a ring around the bill. During the walk, six snags were seen in total, and more were present in the deeply wooded areas vs. on the outskirts. Of these snags, four cavities were seen on the larger trees, with each cavity correlating to a larger size of the tree. Although no animals made the cavities their home, I did see a few insects exiting when tapped on. Snags are important habitat to natural wildlife that provide protection to vulnerable species, like insects and squirrels, in harsh winter conditions.

Posted by mkerner mkerner, March 08, 2019 17:01

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

mkerner

Date

March 3, 2019

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

mkerner

Date

March 3, 2019

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor

Observer

mkerner

Date

March 3, 2019

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Observer

mkerner

Date

March 3, 2019

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