28 de mayo de 2021

Friday - Cooley Lake Conservation Area

-7:45-11:45 am EST
-Cooley Lake Conservation Area (Excelsior Springs, Missouri)
-100% cloud cover, 11mph NNW wind, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. 61% Humidity

Cooley Lake Conservation Area was an interesting adventure because it seems like they have not bothered to maintain their trail in a very long time. There were several times that I lost the trail because the vegetation covering it was so dense. Because of this, (and very deep mud) I moved much slower and found less birds, but now that I know where the good spots are I think it would be a great birding spot for the future. A dense deciduous forest borders both wetlands and grasslands allowing for a great diversity of species. I didn't spend a lot of time in the wetlands but I thought that I saw a Great Egret and 2 American Black Ducks flying in the distance. My best grassland birds were (the angry) Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher and a female Orchard Oriole. And my best forest bird ID were several Least Flycatchers.

I saw a lot of Indigo Buntings today, so as a continuation of yesterday I would play their call on my phone. Immediately they began to come much closer and swoop at me. So far in my experience they have been one of the most responsive birds to recorded song.
Also I think that I am getting better at using spishing because I got a Tufted Titmouse to come much closer to me.

Publicado el mayo 28, 2021 10:11 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 15 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de mayo de 2021


-6:30-12:30 am EST
-Swope Park (Kansas City, MO), and Shawnee Mission Park (Shawnee, Kansas)
-100% cloud cover, Thunderstorming, 15mph S wind, 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 65% Humidity

I started off the day in severe thunderstorms that seemed like they might have progressed into tornado weather, but eventually they staved off into manageable sprinkling. I began at Swope park in Kansas City MO. The area that I spent the most time in there consisted of deciduous trees bordering a small creek. This area was adjacent to a moderately busy road. My best finds here were a Wood Thrush, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Brown Thrasher. All three of these species were perched high up in trees bordering the stream, so I had to depend on songs for identification.
Next, I moved on to Minor Park. Here I was able to make use of a trail that led through a dense deciduous forest that bordered on a much larger river. When I came upon the river I unfortunately spooked a Great Egret but I was able to make a moderately confident identification as it flew away. My other great finds were a Killdeer that was in some puddles on the drenched trail, and an Eastern Wood-Peewee.

An interesting behavior that I observed happened after I played the Indigo Bunting's song on my phone to confirm what I was hearing was indeed an Indigo Bunting. This prompted the Bunting to rapidly circle me and it even swooped at my head several times. It makes sense to me that birds might be attracted by recordings of their song, but what I don't understand is why the Indigo Bunting was able to identify it was coming from me and turned antagonistic and defensive.

Publicado el mayo 27, 2021 11:39 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 21 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Wednesday - Forest Birds

-6:30-12:30 am EST
-Maple Woods Natural Area (Kansas City, MO), and Shawnee Mission Park (Shawnee, Kansas)
-50% cloud cover, 8mph SE wind, 78 degrees Fahrenheit. 59% Humidity

Habitat Breakdown: Maple Woods was a small densely forested area with a stream running through it. I heard several target birds there but unfortunately the area was directly adjacent to a noisy neighborhood and highway. This made it difficult to hear calls and the foliage was much too dense to see birds. I left this area to go back to Shawnee Mission park (where I had a lot of luck on the first day). There I spent much of my time in a grassland that had several white oaks sporadically placed throughout. I was able to see many grassland species (Savannah Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Indigo Bunting, etc). Watching the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in flight was my favorite part of the day. I also spent some time in some trees (primarily white oak and paper birch) that were adjacent to a large lake. There I saw wetland birds like Red-winged Blackbirds and Canada Geese, but also several deciduous residents like the Baltimore Oriole and the Red-eyed Vireo.

Behavioral Notes: I saw several Eastern Kingbirds that were mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk.
I also observed what appeared to be an antagonistic encounter between a Red-winged Blackbird and a smaller bird that I was unable to identify or gather media on. I thought this was unusual this late in the year.

Publicado el mayo 27, 2021 12:36 MAÑANA por ben__simms ben__simms | 29 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de mayo de 2021

Tuesday - Grassland Birds

-6:30-11:30 am EST
-Martha Lafite Thompson Wildlife Sanctuary
-Overcast (40% cloud cover), Light 15mph S wind, 73 degrees Fahrenheit. 74% Humidity

Grassland areas at the sanctuary displayed much lower bird diversity and abundance. I primarily observed Tree Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Indigo Buntings in the grassland habitat, while the bulk of my observations occurred in the surrounding wooded areas. I spent a lot of time and effort searching in the grassland habitat so I feel that my lack of success was likely due to poor habitat quality as opposed to lack of trying.

I used Allan's old bobolink data for a paper last semester that looked at Bobolink ideal habitat conditions (measured by observed abundance). When I was conducting literature reviews many sources discussed the effect of vegetation height, vegetation density, and field size on grassland passerine abundance. These papers indicated that ideal habitat for Bobolinks and many other grassland passerines consisted of medium-tall and dense vegetation in large and unfragmented fields. The grassland area that I observed the majority of my grassland species in had high, dense, and heterogenous vegetation, but was not very expansive and was fragmented by wide, mowed trails.

Publicado el mayo 25, 2021 11:17 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 17 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de mayo de 2021

Monday - Water Habitat

-6-11:30 am EST
-Shawnee Mission Park
-Overcast (40% cloud cover), Light 6mph SW wind, 80 degrees Fahrenheit
-wetland areas were primarily surrounded by tall grasses with scattered phragmites. Hard-wood forested areas were directly adjacent to many of the wetlands (i.e. red and white oaks, purple beech).
The riparian forests displayed the highest abundances.
There was also a distinguishable difference in the types of birds that I saw in each area. The waterbirds remained either on the water or on the shore, I primarily observed RW Blackbirds making use of shoreline vegetation, surrounding riparian forest had high density and diversity of songbirds, and surrounding parking lots and scattered trees in mowed grass had more generalist species like American Crows and European Starlings.
I also visited some of the surrounding grasslands which seemed to have significantly lower bird activity. The birds that I did observe here were primarily insectivores likes the Tree Swallow

I had a really good time, but unfortunately only saw a couple of water birds.

I'm still figuring out how to best utilize my guide apps, and was struggling to ID two of the birds that I took pics of. It looks like other inaturalists identified them as a brown-headed cowbird and an Eastern Bluebird, but I'm curious if you guys agree with these (because I wasn't sure that I did).

Publicado el mayo 24, 2021 11:34 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 18 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de mayo de 2021

Extra Credit Field Journal

-9-11 am EST
-Veteran's Memorial Park Wetlands in South Burlington and Memorial Park in Winooski
-Overcast (60% cloud cover), Light 8mph NW wind, 55 degrees Fahrenheit
-primarily saw habitat made up of White Pines, Red pines, paper birch, Eastern Hemlock in Winnoski
-In Veteran's memorial in South Burlington wetland area was made up of cattails and phragmites.

Publicado el mayo 8, 2021 10:35 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 12 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de mayo de 2021

Field Journal #8

-2-3:45 pm EST
-Overcast (60% cloud cover), Light 10mph S/SE wind, 58 degrees Fahrenheit
-primarily saw habitat made up of White Pines, Red pines, paper birch, Eastern Hemlock.

Publicado el mayo 7, 2021 08:44 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de abril de 2021

Field Journal #7

-9-10:50 am EST
-Redstone Campus
-Overcast (100% cloud cover), Light 10mph S/SE wind, 55 degrees Fahrenheit
-primarily saw habitat made up of Norway Spruce, Red pines, paper birch, Eastern Hemlock, and an unidentified coniferous bush.

I have noticed a myriad of clues this week that indicate mating season has begun. I have heard the regular drumming of woodpeckers (as compared to feeding which has an irregular pattern) that is part of male woodpeckers attracting mates. Additionally, there is a European Starling nest right outside my window, and I have repeatedly heard their song, likely to defend their territory from other birds. Additionally, when I went on my walk, the nosiest bird song came from a group of Norway Spruces. This is likely because conifers are highly competitive for nest selection. They offer increased cover and protection for birds that are nesting in early spring, while other trees still remain barren.

I observed two nests on my walk. One was hidden among some the branches of a coniferous bush and another was among some cattails on a peninsula in the redstone constructed wetlands. Both of these areas are highly competitive.

The nest I found in the coniferous bush had dirt caked on some of the sides, which (along with its size) indicated that it likely belonged to an American Robin or Northern Cardinal. Birds like these that nest early in the Spring depend on bushes like these to provide cover and protection for their nests and future broods. I was able to see this nest up close and observed that it was made up of twigs, grass, and some mud. Robins utilize grass and twigs that are generally about 6 inches long. These materials are prevalent nearby beneath a group of Norway Spruce, however I don't know if collecting from that area might infringe on another bird's territory. So, it is possible that the robin might have to travel further in order to gather these materials. As for the mud, robins often use mud to cake around the outside of the nest for additional stability. They gather the mud in their beaks after it has rained. Mud should have been easily accessible in their territory and it had recently rained.

The wetland nest that I observed was also in a competitive location. The constucted wetlands is a small area that can fit a finite number of territories. However, many species such as Canada Geese, Mallards, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others show preferences for areas like this. Mallards and other water birds prefer nesting sites near the wetlands. Red-winged Blackbirds (and some other grassland species) similarly utilize the cover of cattails and wetland shrubbery for their nests but proximity to the water does not have as much of a role in their preferences. I observed several Red-winged Blackbirds here that were almost continuously exhibiting territorial behavior by singing.
The nest that I observed was occupied by a Canada goose. Ideal Canada Geese nesting sites are within 150 feet of the water and are concealed by wetland plants. The nest I observed was absolutely ideal for these conditions. It was on a small peninsula the stretched into the pond, the nest was almost right on the water. And this peninsula was densely covered in cattails and phragmites which provided the nest with concealment from potential predators. Due to the immense benefits of this nesting site it is likely a highly competitive territory to obtain and defend. This individual's ability to maintain and defend this territory indicates high fitness.

NOTE: picture of sound map exercise is on last picture of red-winged blackbird observation.

Publicado el abril 26, 2021 07:39 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2021

Field Journal #6

-2-4 pm EST
-Overcast, Light 7mph North wind, 61 degrees Fahrenheit
-primarily made up of Red pines, paper birch, American Beech, Eastern Hemlock.

Publicado el abril 19, 2021 07:07 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de abril de 2021

Field Journal #5

-9-10:30 pm EST
-Golf course by Redstone Campus
-Sunny day, Light 7mph North wind, 35 degrees Fahrenheit, Low cloud cover
-primarily made up of Red pines, paper birch, American Beech, Eastern Hemlock. Also looked at some wetlands that had dense cattails.

Several of the year round residents that I observed include the Black-capped Chickadee, the Blue Jay, and the Hairy Woodpecker. These species all have adaptations, feeding behaviors, and/or nesting behaviors that allow them to brave the Vermont winter and remain here year round. Chickadees and blue jays are able to supplement the loss of insect prey with fruits, nuts, and seeds that are still foragable during winter (i.e. the flowering crabapple). They are also able to stay warm by using snags and openings in trees in order to maintain body heat. The Hairy Woodpecker's adaptations also allow it to overcome the loss of other food sources by being able to chisel its way to insects inside bark that are not accessible to most other animals. Because these species, and other year long residents, have the resources necessary to not migrate they will remain, as migration is an incredibly taxing process.
One of the facultative migrants that I observed on my excursion was the Red-winged Blackbird. In the last couple weeks many Red-winged Blackbird males arrived in order to establish territories. Females have begun arriving recently and breeding has commenced. Nesting has begun and eggs will start to hatch by the end of April. Burlington is right on the border of the Red-winged Blackbird breeding range so there were already a small number that had remained here year round but the bulk of the population that is here now is returning from migration to the the southern US and Mexico. As winter has ended Burlington's habitat conditions are becoming more supportive of larger Red-winged Blackbird populations - thus prompting their return. Redwings are primarily insectivorous and the end of winter means that insect population will become a viable food source once again.
I did not personally come across any obligate migrants but a great example is the tree swallow. This species is primarily insectivorous so as winter comes to an end it will begin to find more and more viable food sources but this is highly dependent on the weather. If we have an extended winter or have an unexpected cold snap the tree swallow's diet can suffer as they will be forced to rely on herbivory.

Red-winged Blackbird: ~1000 miles to southern US
Song Sparrow: ~600 miles or perhaps not at all
Canada Goose: ~500 or not at all
Coopers Hawk: ~1350 miles
Total: ~3450

Publicado el abril 5, 2021 07:30 TARDE por ben__simms ben__simms | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario