Field Journal 4: Social Behavior and Phenology

March 24th, 2020
9:30-11am
Burlington, VT
34 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy

I started my walk on Pine Place. I walked up Pine Place, turned right on St. Paul St, and did a loop by walking down Howard St and making my way back to Pine Place via Pine Street. Starting at Pine Place, I saw four Ring-billed Gulls flying above the neighborhood. As the days have gotten longer and warmer, I have seen many more gulls in Burlington. About a month and a half ago I barely saw any. They squawked at each other in the air. Throughout my walk, the other Ring-billed gulls squawked predictably, even if they were flying solo. To me, all gull squawking sounds the same, but I wonder if what the solo bird is communicating is a different message than that of the birds flying together in a group. Total gulls that day = 10.

I saw a male and female Northern Cardinal in the same shrub. They were a respectful distance apart, but they were still definitely communicating. They chirped at each other and the female bobbed her tail. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website says that males and females are seen in pairs during the breeding season, but that they stay in flocks during the fall and winter. What strikes me most in cardinals is the male’s brilliant red color that is easily visible, even in dense vegetation. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, male cardinals’ red color attracts females, but what puzzles me is the trade-off between being attractive and being vulnerable to predators. How do these birds find balance between breeding success and survival? Total Northern Cardinals = 3.

When I walked down Howard Street, I saw 6 Rock Pigeons perched on a wire above some houses. Some were facing towards the wind and others were facing away from the wind. They were all approximately six inches apart. They were silent and minding their own business. Some of them preened while others seemed to just be hanging out. They all had their feathers puffed out, so I assume it was a bit chilly up there. Total Rock pigeons = 7.

When I walked down Pine St, I made a stop at Myer’s bagels. Behind their parking lot is a pond surrounded by vegetation, so I thought I’d take a look. A group of European Starlings perched together on a large tree. They were also uniformly spaced and called to each other in a variety of different sounds. They would talk for a while and then fly to a different tree. I also noticed that they didn’t appear as bright and speckled as they did a month ago. Does this mean they are getting ready to breed? Total Starlings = 14.

I heard a bunch of Red-winged Blackbirds by the water but I did not see any. They could have been females picking up pieces of aquatic plants to build their nests for the breeding season. Each call was about five seconds apart. The calls were not fast or urgent sounding, so I assume it was just their normal communication. Total Red-winged blackbirds is unknown.

By the water I also briefly saw an American Robin flying above the water. Total Robins = 1.

I made some spishing sounds on my walk but surprisingly did not see any Chickadees or Sparrows.

Posted by nlay4185 nlay4185, March 25, 2020 15:55

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

nlay4185

Date

March 24, 2020

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