Bird Walk 3/24/20

My walk began on March 24 at 10:40 am. It was about 40F, overcast, and had snowed about 2 inches the day before, so the snow was melting quickly in the warmish weather. My walk took place in a mixed forest type near a small, quiet, residential area. There were several open areas, but also more densely wooded sections.
First, I walked down my dead-end road to where it ends at a long driveway and a small forest area. As I walked down the driveway and several blue jays were calling back and forth to each other. I couldn't see them but they sounded very close. I stood still for about 10 minutes, but the jays did not stop calling to each other. It seemed to me that they were alarming of my presence and other species were listening, because when they called, other birds stopped singing.
Next I turned off the driveway to walk up a hill, which was the highest point in the vicinity that I could see. Down the hill there was a pond with two Canada geese nearby. As I continued up the hill, all of a sudden a flock of at least 12 American robins alighted onto the top of a tree that was just a few yards away from me. The robins were all making small chatter to each other. They seemed to be constantly checking in with each other and making sure everything was good. Sometimes one would hop to another branch, which elicited some louder chatter for a brief moment. At one point, one seemed to get to close to another, which resulted in a brief chase through the air In general, these robins seemed content with their neighbors presence, even if sometimes they would have small squabbles.
Then, I walked back down the driveway onto the road again. I noticed a bird feeder in a neighbor's yard, so I decided to stay and watch for a while. On top of a tree a short distance away was a male northern cardinal calling incessantly. Another female cardinal was sitting on a bush near the feeder. There were also a lot of robins milling around in the trees. The male cardinal's plumage made him incredibly easy to spot. Combined with his loud, piercing call, he was extremely conspicuous and easy for a predator to spot. However, his bright plumage probably made him quite attractive to females and able to compete with other males. In fact, it seems like his plumage was successful in his fight for a mate, evidenced by the female that he seemed to be guarding. On the other hand, the robins' heads, wings, and backs were dark grey with brown lines, perfect for blending into the canopy of the deciduous trees where they spent a lot of time. When seen from above, like by a bird of prey, they could easily blend into the forest, unlike the cardinal. However, their orange bellies were still quite bright and most likely evolved by sexual selection from competing males, just like the cardinals. Unlike the cardinals, though, the bright color was only on the part of their body that would go unseen to predators.
As I watched the feeder some more, more birds become comfortable with my presence and ventured closer to the feeder. I was able to identify two tufted titmice, two song sparrows, four dark-eyed juncos, an eastern phoebe, and a mysterious light colored bird with a long bill, that I only saw for a few seconds. For a little while, I watched one tufted titmouse. It was hopping between the feeder, a nearby bush, and some trees farther away. It didn't stay in one spot for long. It seemed cautious but definitely interested in the feeder. Since it's becoming spring, this bird probably has been finding it easier to find food after the winter, but the snow from last night may have made that more difficult, prompting it to come to this feeder today.
In several instances I attempted a "pish" sound, but each time, the blue jays in the canopy, which were previously quiet, erupted into loud calls, and the song birds retreated to cover in the trees. Since this noise may be similar to the noise used by several species to "scold" of a potential threat, it makes sense that it elicited a strong response in the birds nearby. I think that because I was in a generally open area and the birds I was observing were putting themselves in a more vulnerable position by feeding, that they were more wary and less curious of potential threats. Or, I could have been doing it wrong. After a while of watching the feeder, I decided to call it a day and let them continue undisturbed.

Posted by natalya-h natalya-h, March 24, 2020 17:49

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

natalya-h

Date

March 24, 2020

Description

1 male, 1 female

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