Journal Entry 2

Date: Tuesday 3/3/2020, 3:45-5:30p
Location: Winooski Gorge Park (44°29'19.7"N 73°09'45.6"W)
Weather: very overcast, with a high chance of rain. Mid 40s, a warm day compared to the past few weeks/months.
Habitat: Largely coniferous forest at the top of a gorge. Small patch of forest, close enough to a main road to hear fairly heavy traffic. Still a large enough patch to house deer, ran into many tracks and droppings.

This walk was full of bird calls but very scarce on bird sightings. The walk started in a very clear conifer stand, and continued through other stands of varying density. There were also a few overlooks over a gorge with a view of the water, but the lack of a shore and the fact that the water was frozen seemed to discourage waterfowl. This may have been different during the summer; the trees and tops of the gorge likely could have created good perches for ospreys or other fish-eating birds. From these outlooks, I could see hordes of crows flying overhead, which we learned is a very common winter behavior for corvids. They tend to form murders in winter to maximize survival chances, but these groups cause food to deplete quickly, causing the birds to move often.

In the forested area, it seemed that bird activity was pretty low. I heard a lot of various sparrow, finch, and warbler calls, but had difficulty identifying most of them. These birds, however, stayed very hidden throughout my walk. I found a couple of black-capped chickadees because of their curiosity, but nothing else. There were many chickadee alarm calls, so maybe the other birds were being cautious, avoiding the big scary bipedal mammal. Alternatively, maybe minimizing foraging time during the winter could help birds keep their energy demands low, so perhaps some of the birds had already finished their foraging and returned to their roosts. Especially for birds that cache food, it may not take long to forage if they are able to remember where they left their stores. When observing the chickadees, I noticed that they tended to stay in coniferous trees that were well foliated, avoiding bare trees. This could be a common strategy for birds in winter, as it helps them remain hidden from predators when the deciduous trees drop their leaves.

For the snag watch I noted 5 different trees of various sizes. I was unsure about the definitions of snags and cavities. I just noted obviously dead or fallen trees as snags, and counted any hole that seemed large enough for a bird as a cavity. The list of snags and characteristics is as such:
1. medium sized conifer snag, about 65 inches in diameter at breast height. Not decomposed enough to lose much structural stability. Contained a variety of medium sized cavities, likely from a pileated woodpecker.
2. small conifer snag, about 10 inches in diameter ABH. Lacked any major signs of decomposing. Small cavity present near the base, but not signs of any inhabitants.
3. large conifer snag, about 85 inches in diameter ABH. showed some signs of decomposing, had lost all but a few major branches. Contained a variety of medium and large sized cavities, likely from a pileated woodpecker.
4. large conifer snag, about 80 inches in diameter ABH. This one was fallen, but didn’t contain any significant cavities that I could find. I wonder if woodpeckers dislike fallen trees.
5. large snag, pretty much just a tall stump at this point. Likely was a conifer, likely about 50 inches in diameter ABH. This one contained many large cavities, but again no signs of inhabitants.

Snags likely provide a nesting place for many small bird species in these type of woods, based on the snags that I was on my walk. These places of refuge are probably even more beneficial in the winter, when cover from harsh conditions may be more hard to find.

Posted by lucasferrier lucasferrier, March 07, 2020 01:35

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

lucasferrier

Date

March 3, 2020

Description

I heard 2 birds singing from different areas around the same time. Identified the vary characteristic opener to the song sparrow's song.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

Observer

lucasferrier

Date

March 3, 2020

Description

My quantity of 80 seen was obviously an estimate. It seemed like there were constantly crows flying overhead, most coming from the northwest. They would have been hard for me to identify, but they were plenty noisy.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

lucasferrier

Date

March 3, 2020

Description

Heard just one northern cardinal, as far as I could tell, quite close but hidden by dense foliage.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

lucasferrier

Date

March 3, 2020

Description

Saw 3 chickadees throughout the hike, generally spaced out pretty well with temporally and geographically. These is definitely a chance that one of these birds was repeated in my count, but I heard enough chickadee calls that I think it was likely that were different. As usual they were very curious, and these were the only birds I actually was able to get a good look at.

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