Field Journal 5: Migration

Location: Green Mountain Audobon Center in Huntington, VT
Day: 4/7/20, 1:40-3:30pm
Partly cloudy, 53°F, subtle wind

• 1 Winter Wren
• 3 American Robins
• 12 Black-capped Chickadees
• 1 Blue Jay
• 1 Canada Goose (nesting!)
• 1 Red-winged Blackbird

I had never been to the Audobon Center before and yesterday’s beautiful weather seemed like a perfect opportunity to go. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was overwhelmed by the loud calls of Spring Peepers in Beaver Pond. Around the marsh I could hear the songs of Red-winged Blackbirds, one of Vermont’s famous facultative migrants. Red-winged Blackbirds are short-distance migrants who only travel about 800 miles south in the winter. Males arrive early in the spring and females join them later. The females then build their nests in marsh vegetation. The males will sing on high perches to attract females. The other day I saw a male desperately singing on top of a tree. I later saw a female sitting in a lower shrubby area by the water. I couldn’t tell whether she was impressed by his song.
Another facultative migrant species I saw was the American Robin. I started seeing these guys almost two months ago feeding on berries, but yesterday I saw a Robin tussling with a caterpillar—another sure sign of spring! These birds are year-round residents, but some of them are probably also arriving in VT from the southern United States. As the weather warms up in Vermont, American Robins are probably driven by the abundance of worms, caterpillars, and other invertebrates.

As usual, I saw a bunch of Black-capped Chickadees. Some were doing their mating calls in trees where I couldn’t see them, but most of them were hopping around the shrubs and feeding on berries. Staghorn Sumac seems to be a favorite, I just hope they develop the mental capacity to stay away from Common Buckthorn.

Unfortunately, I did not see any obligate migrants. I decided to do some research on the Scarlet Tanager, a bird that apparently dwells in the forest protected by the Audobon Society where I was doing my bird-walk. This bird that travels across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in South America. The individuals who migrate furthest arrive at their breeding grounds later than the ones who migrate further north on the continent. According to Google Earth, a Scarlet Tanager that travels in a straight line from northern Vermont to Ushuaia, Argentina, flies almost 7000 miles. The birds that go further south migrate north in synchronized bursts rather than all at once. They also migrate mostly at night. I wonder what their main orientation method is. They probably move at night to avoid predators because their bright, colorful feathers make them stick out. The American Bird Conservancy calls them “the guardians of the oaks” because they travel through the treetops of tall, deciduous trees (especially oaks).

Posted by nlay4185 nlay4185, April 08, 2020 18:36

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

1 Blue Jay

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

Observer

nlay4185

Date

April 7, 2020

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