[CT Birds] I'm very courious...
David F Provencher
david.f.provencher at dom.com
Wed Feb 13 13:59:03 EST 2013
The winter mortality rate for birds varies from year to year, and I suspect this winter will be a particularly difficult one. But I don't think this snowfall is going to have as much of an effect as the low natural food stock did all winter. I hike quite a bit, usually in forest interior habitat. In winter in CT, the forest interior can be a very quiet and seemingly birdless place. This year is no different. However, as Greg alluded, certain areas can attract more birds. I noticed one forest spot in Salem that I hike by routinely that has some open groundwater near a tangle of undergrowth that usually has a group of White-throated Sparrows and Song Sparrows hanging around, as well a Winter Wren. Stands of Mountain Laurel and groves of evergreens are about the only places in the winter forest where you can expect to routinely see and hear birds. These spots usually have G-c Kinglets, Tufted Titmice, B-c Chickadees, Creepers, and a few others in low numbers. Woodpeckers are about the most evenly distributed group throughout the winter forest and during my wanderings I have come across quite a few Pileated this year. While driving recently I noted a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting very low in a small, bare ornamental tree on someone's lawn, looking very much like a cartoon vulture waiting for something to die!
I snowshoed in Salem the day after Nemo (it was brutal, just 3 miles taking two hard hours). I mentioned earlier the Pipit standing on the Rte. 11 onramp pavement. While I was snowshoeing in hip deep snow (read that as slogging, sweating, and panting), I noticed narrow, deep ruts in the snow snaking through the woods ahead. I was a little puzzled until I crossed one and examined it. It was a Coyote trail. The snow was so deep that the canids must have been shoulder deep at least. The track looked as if a very narrow plow had furrowed through the snow. The track was so uniform that the impression I got was of multiple animals moving efficiently through the snow in single file. I also came across a Mink track, which was much more like a the slide they often make on snow (or mud) covered slopes. But this "slide" was very long and across the snow on a level plain. It terminated at a stream. So even though the conditions are very tough, many species have adaptive skills that allow them to deal with such harsh conditions in the short term. Birds also have an eye for the main chance. Prior to the storm I parked my truck on grass to allow the parking area to be plowed unimpeded. When I was shoveling the truck out of the deep snow afterwards, a Junco flew under the truck to be able to perch and forage on grass while I shoveled less than three feet away!
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