Field Observation Journal Entry #3 (3/25)

Today around 1 pm, I went on a little birding excursion in the woods around my home and observed birds near the bird feeders by my house. It was fairly cloudy today and the temperature was 37˚ Fahrenheit.

During the two hours I was outside bird watching, I saw around 40 black-capped chickadees, maybe more, 2 tufted titmice, 5 dark-eyed junco, 4 blue jay, 3 red-breasted nuthatch, and 1 common raven. Since it was still fairly early in the day and light outside, most of the birds I saw were foraging, as it is apart of their circadian rhythm and important to take advantage of the daylight to search for food.

I was woken up this morning by a blue jay outside that was making a ruckus about the feeder. The blue jay had an erect crest and was probably trying to bully the other birds around the feeder and intimidate them so that he/she could have it to themselves. On my walk in the woods, I walked past a clearing where I saw some blue jays and heard their songs. I believe they were jeering mostly because my dog and my neighbor's two dogs who followed me may have spooked them. Far away from me, I heard one blue jay in the woods that seemed very alarmed and when I looked over to see what the commotion was about, I saw a common raven cawing and flying away from the scene, so maybe those two incidents were connected.

The most social behavior I saw was near the bird feeders, specifically amongst the black-capped chickadee. I observed a social hierarchy in the black-capped chickadees. Some of them were very territorial over the feeders and would chase off other black-capped chickadees from the feeder. While others allowed the other black-capped chickadees to eat from the feeder with them. The black-capped chickadees did not seem concerned with other bird species using the feeders possibly because they were more concerned about establishing themselves within their species and making sure they have status. When I approached the feeders, the black-capped chickadees gave me their "chicka dee dee dee" alarm call to let others know I was nearby. I tried spishing at them and one of them surprisingly perched on branch very close to me and seemed curious, but then flew off. I must have offended him/her. This black-capped chickadee may have been interested in my spishing because it sounded similar to their own calls.

The red-breasted nuthatches I saw also seemed to be territorial. When I observed one of the tufted titmice feeding at the feeder, a red-breasted nut hatch flew and scared off the titmouse. Besides the blue jays behavior, that was the only interspecific competition behavior I saw.

I also observed what seemed like environmental niches. The dark-eyed junco were foraging for seeds that fell from the feeder on the ground. I thought this maybe their method of avoiding the chaos around the bird feeder, since no other birds were feeding on the ground.

Dark-eye junco have dark back plumage that makes them easily camouflaged on the ground and in the dark ashy gray trees in the woods around my home, so their coloration must be cryptic and an example of countershading to avoid predators. On the other hand, black-capped chickadees have plumage that accentuates their bill because it draws attention to their bills and may intimidate rival males. Black-capped chickadees have such an intense social hierarchy, that it would make sense if their plumage accentuated their bill for the purpose of intimidating rival males.

Posted by kaglenn kaglenn, March 26, 2020 03:51

Observations

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

Photos / Sounds

What

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Raven Corvus corax

Observer

kaglenn

Date

March 25, 2020

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