Field Observation 6: Reproductive Ecology and Evolution

On March 11th at approximately 3:30 P.M., I ventured out to Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, spanning over 700 acres and situated right on the banks of the Connecticut River. The majority of this land is forested, but it also features several ponds where I have noticed that many waterfowl tend to gather. It was this area where I intended to observe. On this day, the sky was relatively clear and the temperature was around 45 degrees Fahrenheit

During this bird walk, I witnessed a single Domestic Duck, a pair of Ring-billed Gulls, dozens of pairs of Mallards, and dozens of pairs of Canada Geese. Although I could not spot them, I was able to hear the songs and calls of a Tufted Titmouse, an American Robin, and a Blue Jay. I did a little research into the Domestic Duck after my visit. I learned that they're raised for meat and as pets for the most part so I wondered why this Domestic Duck was out in the wild among the other birds. I also found that Mallards and Domestic Ducks have the same scientific name and was additionally perplexed by this. Does this mean that Domestic Ducks can mate with Mallards? What would their offspring look like if they do? Are all Domestic Ducks white? What is this lone Domestic Duck's story; was it born here or was it let loose from a life of domestication? These are some questions that I would love to find the answers to.

As for mating and territorial behavior, it was immediately obvious right off the bat that the vast majority of waterfowl were paired up. They swam and moved as male and female pairs. However, since male and female Ring-billed Gulls look alike, I was unsure if the pair I saw were also male and female. I found several spots in the area that I thought might be great areas for the species I observed/heard. In the middle of one of the ponds was a mound of land that I approximate was 50 feet by 12 feet. I figured that this might be an ideal nesting spot for a couple pairs of Canada Geese due to the fact that they prefer elevated sites near water with unobstructed views in most directions. This mound of land in the center of the pond already had some Canada Geese sitting around. I found that the banks of the pond on the side opposite me may serve as a proper nesting site for any Mallard pair. These banks had various grasses and cattails lining them as well as trees overhanging them. Mallards have shown to enjoy nesting spots on dry land near water. Oftentimes, these nests can also be under plant growth. Lastly, although I could not spot the individual, I was able to hear the distinct song of a Tufted Titmouse. I found that Forest Park in general would be an ideal spot to nest in due to the high quantity and density of deciduous and evergreen trees such as maples and white pines, respectively. Tufted Titmice prefer a mix of these tree types and in great densities to nest in.

For about 7 minutes I sat in front of the pond and closed my eyes to listen to what birds I could hear. During this activity, I heard a total of 5 bird species: Canada Geese, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Blue Jay, and Ring-billed Gull. I heard multiple Canada Geese and I believe only individual calls and songs from the remaining species. Luckily and interesting enough, I was able to identify the songs and calls of all the species I heard!

Posted by emquirk emquirk, April 24, 2019 17:04

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Domestic Duck Anas platyrhynchos var. domesticus

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 11, 2019

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Observer

emquirk

Date

March 11, 2019

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