Field Observation 2: Physiology

On Thursday, March 7th at approximately 9:00 A.M., I ventured out for a campus bird walk before my later afternoon classes. It was a chilly morning at approximately 19 degrees, but the birds were still out and about and were making their presences known with their calls. In total, I saw about six American Robins and 11 American Crows but heard the calls of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice in the distance as well. All of the birds I saw were budgeting their time by searching for food on the ground in patches where snow wasn't present, it appeared. On campus, I can imagine many of the smaller birds may attempt to build nests in the crevices of the parking garage, as it most likely limits the harsh winds and precipitation.

I began by leaving my dorm of WDW and immediately noticed an American Robin (pictured in the attached image) sitting in a small adjacent tree littered with berries (similar to the tree the Cedar Waxwing I viewed a couple of weeks ago). The bird was not doing anything too special; it merely sat on a branch, not making any sounds, almost as if it was just observing its surroundings I approached the bird until I came to a surprisingly close two feet or so, and I was incredibly shocked that it didn't even flinch with my presence. I noticed that the bird appeared to be eating very well, but then I remembered our lecture a while back on how birds attempt to adjust to the weather they endure. It's a bit difficult to tell in the picture, but this Robin had its feathers fluffed out extensively to retain body heat. I still found it odd at how close the bird let me stand near it, but after about ten minutes of watching the bird, I moved on.

I walked over back beyond the lacrosse and soccer field to the trees behind it to search for dead snags. I only analyzed a small portion of the woods but saw about two snags. These snags had several small holes and a couple of holes on the larger side. Snags are incredibly important to wildlife, especially birds, as it can provide a place for nesting and can harbor many bugs that birds rely on as a food source. Woodpecker species are well known to take advantage of snags and drum on them for food. Though important for birds, these snags didn't seem to have any active inhabitants.

After my walk, I went to attend my classes and then walked back to return to my dorm. On my way back, I passed by the tree that I had spotted the American Robin in earlier that day. I was absolutely stunned to see the bird in almost the exact same position (only on a branch half a foot higher) four and a half hours later. I was so perplexed and I observed him again; he still did not appear to be doing anything but his feathers were still fluffed to retain all the heat he could. I watched for another ten minutes until I got too cold and retreated inside. I would absolutely love to know why this American Robin let me get so close to him and why he had not changed his position for several hours, even on an extremely cold day.

Posted by emquirk emquirk, March 09, 2019 04:17

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 7, 2019

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