Birding Expedition 1: Hurricane Mountain

Thomas Maron
Field Journal 1:

My first birding outing took place on Hurricane Mountain in Keene, NY in the Adirondack Park. The weather was 25 degrees and sunny with occasional gusts of wind up to 5 or 7 miles an hour. The overall outing was about four hours long with three dedicated half hour stops to observe the birds. The first of these was in a coniferous forest at lower elevation in close proximity to a small stream and several wetlands. The second stop was on the edge of a large wetland at slightly higher elevation with a more mixed canopy profile, the trees here were mainly younger saplings. The third stop was the highest in elevation and was in a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest with both older and younger trees. This third stop displayed the greatest diversity of species, as the two first observations yielded only Black-capped Chickadees sightings, though their characteristic call was on full display.
Since the bird observed most frequently was the Chickadee I was able to gain a better understanding of its’ patterns of flight than the two other species I saw. The Chickadee largely “flitted” around, flying rapidly from branch to branch. The individuals would flap frequently, rarely, if ever, gliding and would keep their wings extended out far from their body in flight. This was in stark contrast to the flight of the female Hairy Woodpecker I saw. Her flight was smooth and in flight she would flap, pull her wings in close to her body, and then extend her wings again to make another flap. This pattern made her individuals flaps noticeable and her flight patterned in this cyclic way. She flew in very direct, straight lines, whereas the Chickadee, busily buzzed to-and-fro frenetically. Along with this the Chickadee clearly flapped more frequently and could be seen throughout the vertical profile of the forest, while the Woodpecker flapped less often and was only observed in the higher canopy.
The contrasting features of flight displayed by these two species can be attributed to several factors that are all related. The differing morphology of these two species in wing and body size can explain some parts of these differences. Specifically, that the longer wings and larger body of the Woodpecker make it better suited for gliding and flying in straighter lines, while the smaller wings and body of the Chickadee ensure that it can swiftly change direction but is ill-suited to glide. The contrasting morphology ties directly into the habitat niches of these two species. The Chickadees were observed largely in denser brush flying quickly from branch to branch or branch to ground, while the Woodpecker flew only high in the canopy where there were larger spaces and clearer flight paths. These different niches require different patterns of flight which further requires a specific morphology to be best suited for this habitat. In this case, the smaller, shorter wings of the Chickadee make rapid flight in tight spaces easy, whereas the larger, longer wings of the Woodpecker predispose it to be suited for gliding in the open spaces of the canopy. The characteristics of both birds’ flight highlight the somewhat cyclic relationship between pattern of flight, habitat niche, and wing morphology. Habitat niche necessitates a certain style of flight which is best suited by a specific wing shape which ensures that the species is successful in that habitat. The contrasting methods of flight between these two species effectively illustrated the complex, yet fascinating relationship between morphological adaptions and physical habitat.

Posted by tmaronadk tmaronadk, February 20, 2020 03:25

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

tmaronadk

Date

February 17, 2020

Description

20-30 individuals, sheer number made exact count difficult to ascertain, both male and female, habitat was mixed deciduous and coniferous forest on the edge of a frozen wetland, species was observed both in the canopy and flitting around on the ground, several interactions between individuals were observed, as well as frequent calls of chick-a-dee-dee-dee

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis

Observer

tmaronadk

Date

February 17, 2020

Description

2 individuals observed, could not determine sex, observed high in tree canopy in stand of primarily coniferous trees, characteristic 'yank-yank-yank' call was heard, identified by this call and the reddish hue of their breast

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Hairy Woodpecker Dryobates villosus

Observer

tmaronadk

Date

February 17, 2020

Description

1 Female Hairy Woodpecker, first heard the individual pecking at a standing dead birch, individual was sighted high in the tree canopy first on this birch and then as it glided to another standing dead tree, habitat was mixed deciduous and coniferous forest higher on Hurricane Mountain

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

Observer

tmaronadk

Date

February 17, 2020

Description

1 individual, only identified by call, we did not get a clear sighting of the individual but, given the habitat and call we were confident that it was a Cedar Waxwing, habitat was mixed coniferous and deciduous forest slightly below a ridgeline.

Comments

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Hi Tommy!

My name is Emily and I'm one of the TAs for WFB 130. This was a good first journal, your detail in the flight descriptions was very good! I just have a couple of notes for the future. Make sure to include at least one photo/audio recording of a bird you saw in the field. In addition, try to put the number of individuals in the "field observation" section of the observation you are submitting. Lastly, make sure your observations are linked to the UVM Ornithology Project. Please reach out to me if you have any questions regarding anything WFB 130 related! My email is emquirk@uvm.edu.

Posted by emquirk 3 months ago (Flag)

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