Upcoming things – nature wise – some woodcocks are back, more to come, get out crepuscular and look/listen for them…..in theory, the snow will disappear, and in theory we will get some rain when the temperature is over 40 degrees. Drive around that evening – Spotted Salamanders will be making their way to a Vernal Pool near you!
|woodcock, hunkered down|
photo by Jim Conlan
(3/11) Jim Conlan sent in this photo of a local woodcock from his yard. Thanks for sharing Jim – you the man.
Great Horned Owls – are being heard around island! (3/10) Huber Preserve – during the bonfire we heard a distant Great Horned towards the end of dusk….Jamus Drury heard one in the early hours (3/17) “Across the pond” with the pond being Carver’s Pond. Great Horned Owls have been sitting on eggs for the last month or so, and young are ready to hatch! The adults will take turns on the nest, and will call back and forth several times before switching spots/responsibilities. The “switchings” often take place at dusk or dawn, but can be heard just about any time after mid-afternoon.
(3/11) – Huber preserve – bunch of white-winged crossbills flew over me in the early hours when I headed back out to check on the fire from the night before.
…. Great to see some Razorbill, and once again the Eider numbers felt high compared to years past.
…lots of people think of the spring migration of songbirds in May as a sign that “love is in the air” (anthropomorphism). And while “love” (the royal “love”) certainly permeates the atmosphere in spring, those looking can see that “love process” (anthropomorphism) starting way before May. For our intents and purposes we will define “the love process” (anthropomorphism) as when hormones inspire plumage change or behavior changes that are “connected” with reproduction! Yippee!
“Although molt (or molting) is often thought of as feather replacement, it is really the systematic process of feather growth….The loss of feathers in later molts is usually a passive by product of new feathers growing in and pushing out the old ones”
I think you get the picture…Steve
seems to be a bit picky about terminology – it’s not replacement, rather it is
pushing out the old feathers by new ones.
|yes, this loon is a little further along than the other|
Here’s more from Steve…..
We can use Common Loons as an example of what Howell talks about with “strategies making sense to us or not”. Common Loons are going through the molt process right now as I type or when you read! For me and lots of others, this is a good time to have a beard, not to molt. Anyway, here’s some more about Loons
“There are only a few times in their annual cycle when loons can molt their wings, and these time constraints are overcome by having a synchronous wing molt. By shedding their primaries and secondaries at the same time, birds become flightless for a few weeks while new wing feathers grow. Another advantage of this strategy for heavy-bodied birds with small wings is that a short period of no flight may be better than a prolonged period of labored flight”
Ever watch a loon fly? Can look somewhat like a struggle or hassle. Imagine them trying to fly with some of their flight feathers gone. Not pretty. Better to ditch them (flight feathers) all at the same time, that’s what evolution has done with them. Here’s more on this..
“unlike geese and swans, which undergo synchronous wing molt while tending young, both members of a breeding pair of loons need to remain fully winged for territory and brood defense, as well as commuting to feeding areas. The traditional view has been that larger loons don’t have the time for wing molt before northern waters freeze up, so they postpone it over the winter until favorable conditions return in early spring.”
(Sea) Ducks - here’s a different strategy, timing wise…. Common Eiders are the only sea duck that regularly breeds locally and are a good example of duck timing.
So Eider males look sharp these days and have since Novemberish. Nothing to do with daylight getting longer, because they actually molt as the days are getting shorter.
|look closely, there is an otter trail captured in slush|
a little to the right of center heading across Old Harbor Pond
The historic den is still in use (no surprise) and tracks in the latest snow where fun to follow. That last snow was famous (in some minds) for having a nice layer of ice on top of the several inches of snow and the otter trails showed how the otters dealt with is.
|trails and tracks showed a lot of activity at otter den|
|the ice on the snow made for some interesting|
|view from the latrine. there are two trails in the |
middle of the sun glare coming from the rocks
across the pond. pretty cool.