Centennial Woods - February 16, 2020

Sunday, 2/16/2020
Centennial Woods, Burlington, VT
(Habitat: Northern hardwood forest)

11:00 am: It was a gray Sunday morning, fairly chilly at about 20 degrees F with a brisk wind. Before we even entered Centennial Woods, my friend and I had the treat of seeing a large hawk fly above the trees at the edge of the woods along Catamount Drive. As it flew from tree to tree, we were lucky enough to see it take off from behind, so its red tail was visible and we identified it as a Red-tailed Hawk! Its large wings seemed to make it difficult to take off at first, but after a few flaps it glided smoothly into the next tree.

As we entered the woods, we encountered a female Northern Cardinal in a tree along the trail where it runs alongside the residential development. She was briefly joined by a male before they both flew in the direction of the woods' entrance behind us. To take off, they hopped a few times on the branch, as if deciding which direction to head, and flapped their wings 2-3 times, before taking off with ease.

We moved on, deeper into the woods, until we found ourselves in the frozen meadow in the center of Centennial. It was the perfect spot to see and hear all of the activity going on in the forest’s edges. There was a mixed-species flock of Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and Nuthatches nearby. They were all hopping between the understory and at the bases of trees. The Black-capped chickadees were the easiest to see in flight and seemed to travel the furthest, enough to flap once or twice and glide to their next destination. On our way back out of the woods, we heard the croak of a passing Common Raven and saw it gliding over the trees on East Avenue. In my notes, I wrote that it glided “like someone impersonating an airplane:” its outstretched wings tilting and turning gracefully with the wind.

Overall impressions: we observed the most activity in edges; I’ve always loved observing edges because they’re rarely quiet. We stood in the middle of the meadow listening to birds communicating to each other from the safety of the trees on either side (I uploaded a recording of a White-breasted Nuthatch "conversation"). In terms of flight patterns, the Passerines we observed (Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Nuthatches) flew in short bursts, their elliptical wings able to navigate the tangled branches and brush. The Common Raven was an exception to this, its soaring flight more like that of the Red-tailed Hawk. Granted, we didn’t see the Raven take off or land, but I’m curious what wing type they have? They almost look like the slotted high-lift wings of raptors—long, their primary feathers spread in flight—and less like elliptical. Slotted high-lift wings would make it easier for them to soar and glide as they do.

Posted by mreilly20 mreilly20, February 19, 2020 02:52

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

mreilly20

Date

February 16, 2020

Description

Female Northern Cardinal

Photos / Sounds

What

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis

Observer

mreilly20

Date

February 16, 2020

Description

At least 2 White-breasted Nuthatches seemed to be calling to each other across the meadow!

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