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Nature of New England                           


Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
Sunday, March 2, 2003
Heard two white-breasted nuthatches this morning. They were having an animated exchange using their "ank-ank" calls.

I've been hearing these nuthatches over the past couple of weeks. Some mornings there's been just one - giving it's "hey-hey-hey-hey-hey" call. But on other days, I hear two of them excitedly giving "ank" calls back and forth. I think they may be staking out their breeding territories.
Saturday, March 1, 2003

American RobinA neighbor up the road saw a flock of robins yesterday. Not all robins migrate southward in the fall; some are winter residents in New England. I'm guessing that those were winter robins that my neighbor saw.

Robins that remain here for the

winter subsist on fruits and berries. On
warm days in late winter, they tend to come
out into the open more - which leads some people to believe that they are seeing the first northward migrating robins. The migrators will come soon, but they're probably not here quite yet.
Friday, February 28, 2003
Saw a female purple finch at my feeder today - I think... Have seen some males but this is the first female this winter.

I sometimes find it hard to distinguish the female purple finch from the female rose-breasted grosbeak. I didn't get a very long look at her, so I can't be sure. Seemed too small to be a grosbeak, though - and the beak didn't look thick enough.
Thurday, February 27, 2003

Barred OwlThis morning, I saw the barred owl in this photo. After a little while, it flew off to another tree and immediately a blue jay came by and started scolding it with its "jay, jay, jay" call.

Soon 4 or 5 other jays arrived and joined in the harassment. The owl

flew off again with the jays in hot pursuit.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Saw some coyote tracks today. There was a set of larger tracks next to a set of smaller tracks. I believe these were the tracks of a male and female traveling together. Here's a photo of one of the larger tracks. It's approximately 2 inches wide and 3.25 inches long.

Mid-February is about the peak of the coyote's courtship period, which usually spans two or three months. During this time, many male coyotes may follow an available female.

Once the female accepts one of the males, the pair may travel together for up to a month before mating takes place. The female is in heat for only 2-5 days during the breeding season. It is thought that coyotes pairs remain together for many years - and perhaps for life.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Gall on Cherry TreeThis is a photo of a gall on a black cherry tree. This gall was probably caused by a fungus called Black Knot (Dibotryon morbosum).

Here's an interesting site on galls. The introduction describes how galls can, in some cases, actually be beneficial to trees and plants. That's surprising.
My brief research indicates that, even when galls weaken or kill the host tree, they might
still benefit some other species in the forest. For example, certain insects breed in the galls formed by Black Knot.
Monday, February 24, 2003
Two tufted titmice were calling back and forth to each other this morning. I think they were in flight - or moving quickly from tree to tree - because the sound was traveling away at a fairly rapid pace.

They were each singing a two-note whistling call - occasionally a single note or three notes. My guess is that these titmice were in the process of establishing their respective territories.

Also, a barred owl stopped by early this evening for a brief hooting session before going off somewhere else.
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