[CT Birds] Woodcock mortality -

Scott Kruitbosch kbosch at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 12:38:19 EDT 2007

To Paul and all:

Not to imply I have anywhere near the experience and knowledge of many of
you, but I wanted to add in something, since I observed two Woodcock last
week in this micro climate type of area. There was nothing remotely close to
what we have in our area (north end of Stratford) as the marsh/wetlands in
that neighborhood. They (and white-throats, cardinals, juncos, etc.) had
found the area and fed there. One was observed the following morning, but
after that, there were no more.

I think wildlife/birds do find these areas, but some of them (especially
those like Woodcock in migration) lack some of the sense to keep in that one
area. They feed, move on, and either get lucky to find this kind of micro
climate, or find nothing and starve. Or they crash near an area where they
find no such thing. I highly doubt the numbers of Woodcock that seemed to be
turning up dead were a mere coincidence with the fact we had a deep ice
covered snow. It seemed to be an unprecedented number.

The cardinals and other wintering species remained in the wetlands area
until the snow melted (it is completely gone here except for bigger piles
from where it was piled up or in extreme shady spots). But the two Woodcock
moved on, presumably north, to much worse areas in terms of snow cover,
where they could starve. Why did the Woodcock leave? They had no reason to.
Even here at the time everything was covered in ice and snow. The yard and
woods are very quiet there, no pets or people or children, and their area
was perfect to feed in for days. Is the urge to migrate overpowering? Or is
their intelligence poor is this sort of area?

Another case is the Fox Sparrows, who have remained here all the way to
today, and continue to feed. I've had fluctuating numbers on a couple days,
but two is a constant, and they've feed in the exact same spot day in and
day out for eight days. Perhaps they are waiting at this constant food
source, knowing their journey north would be this same sort of problem? No
one can be sure these are the same two birds, so that is just a theory, but
the Woodcock leaving the constant food source for any reason says something
to me.

Scott Kruitbosch

On 3/24/07, Carrier Graphics <carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Re: David Bingham -
> I agree with you on most points as to why these early Woodcock may not be
> dying from starvation
> only. You describe seeing open water most all of the winter in swampy
> areas, and from these small,
> open, ice free areas, Woodcock might just find enough food to survive.
> These areas might be called mini-ecosystems, of which we usually have some
> all year long.
> Wildlife knows where to find them, and occasionally they are the only
> areas affording food during
> the harshest of times. I observed one of these several years ago, and here
> is a short sample of
> what i discovered.
> During a very cold and snowy, but sunny January, I Spotted a male Bluebird
> perched above some
> Multiflora Rose in an overgrown field in Litchfield. This bird i assumed
> was surviving on these
> rose hips and other berries found in the area. The Bluebird then flew over
> the road into a snow
> covered swampy area, where it appeared no open water was to be found. I
> observed this bird looking
> intently down at the ground, as they often do during the summer in search
> of insects.
> It then flew down to what appeared to be a snow covered swamp grass
> tussock , and stuck his head
> under it and began pecking there at something. When he vacated, I went to
> the tussock, and
> discovered underneath, a small micro-climate there that was warmed by the
> suns rays which had
> melted the snow facing south, and also some open water. In another i
> searched that was near, I
> discovered several small spiders and some even smaller insects that were
> moving around in this
> very small warmed eco-climate, assuming this was the quarry the Bluebird
> knew was there, and was
> consuming.
> I believe other birds and wildlife know of these areas, and exploit them
> when necessary to get
> through lean times.
> Paul Carrier
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Scott Kruitbosch
Stratford, CT
kbosch at gmail.com

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