Monday, March 9 - Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania (12:30 - 15:45)

Birds were observed from 12:30 - 15:45 on Monday, March 9 at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania. Middle Creek is Pennsylvania's first waterfowl refuge. The total area of Middle Creek is over 5,000 acres. This land is mostly covered by forests and farmland and contains a 400-acre reservoir. The weather was 64 degrees F, sunny, and winds were blowing 13mph SW. This was a very warm day for this time of the year. Birds were observed in forested land surrounding the Middle Creek Visitor Center in the southwest corner of the management area and in the reservoir. The forested area contained mostly deciduous trees. The trees were a wide variety of sizes, there was a moderate level of underbrush. Overall, the forest was pretty densely covered with vegetation. There was no snow on the ground, and buds on some of the trees were observed.
In the forested area surrounding the visitor center, I observed a Song Sparrow calling near the edge of the forest. At least 5 Blue Jays were heard calling many times while walking through this area. A few of these Blue Jays were seen flying from branch to branch in a small group. Two Dark-eyed Juncos were seen hopping on the ground near the edge of the forest. Two Downy Woodpeckers were observed on trees. The Downy Woodpeckers were drumming on branches a bit, and one appeared to be eating berries. One White-breasted Nuthatch was heard calling and seen flying near the tops of trees. One Black-capped Chickadee was heard calling several times. Two Canada Geese were seen flying together over the forest. About 6 Song Sparrows were seen and heard calling by the edge of the forest. A mating pair of Ring-necked Pheasants were seen walking on the ground near the edge of the forest. Finally, 4 Eastern Bluebirds were seen in trees and on the ground next to the visitor center.
After walking through the forested area by the visitor center, I walked along the perimeter of the reservoir. First, I saw a pair of Mallards swimming in middle of the reservoir. I saw a pair of Northern Shovelers swimming near the Southern edge of the reservoir. Two Turkey Vultures were seen flying over the middle of the reservoir. About 40 Tundra Swan were seen swimming in a large group near the northern edge of the reservoir. Finally, approximately 4,000 - 5,000 Snow Geese were seen flying, swimming, or on the shore during the duration of my time by the reservoir. This number range of Snow Geese was estimated by a naturalist working at Middle Creek. The naturalist informed me that thousands of Snow Geese pass through Middle Creek every day during this time of the year, as they migrate north. The geese that were seen in the reservoir and on the ground were taking a break before continuing their flights north.
The Blue Jays observed were traveling throughout the forest and calling a lot. Their calls could have been a form of communication to each other and/or to mark their territory to other birds. The Blue Jays were in the area of other birds, such as Downy Woodpeckers and a Black-capped Chickadee. It is possible that their calls became more loud or frequent in the presence of these other bird species. The two Downy Woodpeckers were drumming on branches in the vicinity of each other. It is possible that the woodpeckers were a mating pair. The drumming could have either been to attract a mate, to mark their territory, or to find food in the tree branches. The Song Sparrows were calling frequently and observed in a group. They may have been trying to communicate with each other. The massive group of Snow Geese concentrated in the reservoir area were making lots of calls. These calls were likely to communicate with each other, as there were no other species present near them. The Snow Geese had nearly completely white plumage, with black coloration on the ends of their wings. This differs from the plumage of the Canada Geese. The Canada Geese had black heads, white cheeks, black necks, brown backs, and light-colored breasts. Both of these bird species are similar in terms of shape and size and both had light-colored breasts and undersides. The mostly while plumage of the Snow Geese may be evolutionarily advantageous because they breed very far north, where the landscape is mostly covered with snow. The white plumage would serve as cryptic coloration in snowy areas, allowing breeding Snow Geese to hide from predators better. Canada Geese usually do not breed as far north as Snow Geese, which may be why they have darker plumage. The brown backs of the Canada Geese may cause them to blend in better on land, in earth-colored habitats. One of the Snow Geese that I observed was resting and floating near the edge of the reservoir. This bird was likely resting on while migrating north at the end of the winter. This migration is an example of circannual rhythm, meaning that this Snow Goose likely performs this migration north every year due to a biological process.
Only one Black-capped Chickadee was heard calling in the forest. I did not see this bird, any other chickadees, or many other groups of small birds. I tried making a "pish" call, but I did not notice that this call attracted or drove away any birds. The goal of making this sound would be to either draw small birds closer or drive them away. Birds could be drawn closer if they believe that the sound is coming from a source of food, like an insect. They could be driven away if they believe that the sound is coming from a predator. I likely had no success because I never was in the near vicinity of a group of chickadees or other small birds.

Posted by andrewgigs andrewgigs, March 26, 2020 02:23

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

I observed Song Sparrows calling near the edge of the forest.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

At least 5 Blue Jays were heard calling many times while walking through this area. A few of these Blue Jays were seen flying from branch to branch in a small group.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

Two Dark-eyed Juncos were seen hopping on the ground near the edge of the forest.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

Two Downy Woodpeckers were observed on trees. The Downy Woodpeckers were drumming on branches a bit, and one appeared to be eating berries.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

One White-breasted Nuthatch was heard calling and seen flying near the tops of trees.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

One Black-capped Chickadee was heard calling several times.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

Two Canada Geese were seen flying together over the forest.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

A mating pair of Ring-necked Pheasants were seen walking on the ground near the edge of the forest.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

4 Eastern Bluebirds were seen in trees and on the ground next to the visitor center.

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

A pair of Mallards swimming in middle of the reservoir.

Photos / Sounds

What

Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

A pair of Northern Shovelers swimming near the Southern edge of the reservoir.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

Two Turkey Vultures were seen flying over the middle of the reservoir.

Photos / Sounds

What

Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

About 40 Tundra Swan were seen swimming in a large group near the northern edge of the reservoir.

Photos / Sounds

What

Snow Goose Anser caerulescens

Observer

andrewgigs

Date

March 9, 2020

Description

Approximately 4,000 - 5,000 Snow Geese were seen flying, swimming, or on the shore during the duration of my time by the reservoir. This number range of Snow Geese was estimated by a naturalist working at Middle Creek. The naturalist informed me that thousands of Snow Geese pass through Middle Creek every day during this time of the year, as they migrate north. The geese that were seen in the reservoir and on the ground were taking a break before continuing their flights north.

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