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Nature of New England                           


Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
Sunday, March 23, 2003

Excavation in TreeThis photo shows a spot where some bird started excavating a nest cavity - or perhaps a roosting cavity.

Sometimes cavity-nesting birds will begin excavating at several locations before settling on one that is considered suitable.

I took this photo a couple of days ago
and haven't heard pecking sounds coming
from this location recently. I'll keep listening and watching.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
One of my neighbors saw a pair of bluebirds today. They were checking out her nest boxes.

Have also heard other reports of bluebirds being seen in the area. Good news!
Friday, March 21, 2003
American Woodcock at NestThe American woodcocks have either arrived on their breeding grounds or will be shortly. They are among the early migrants.

Until late last summer, I was unaware that woodcocks were
nesting nearby. One day I was coming
up the driveway and there was a woodcock
standing right in the middle of the road. I stopped the car and observed it for a while - and waited for it to move.

It just stayed there, bobbing its body up and down. After waiting some more, I finally got out of the car. Still no response. So I slowly moved a few feet toward it - not wanting to alarm it any further, but hoping to encourage it to move out of danger's way. Then it slowly walked off the road and into the brush - acting as though it were totally unaware of my presence.

Near the spot where I saw the woodcock, there's a swampy area of mixed hardwoods and pines. The woods also have some denser vegetation and are adjacent to an open field. This is considered to be good habitat for woodcocks. And I understand that they tend to return to the same breeding grounds each year.

So I've been eagerly listening for the woodcock's nasal-sounding "peent" call and hoping some evening to see the male's dramatic flight display.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
There were mourning doves feeding below my bird feeder today. Other years, they've come to my feeder throughout the winter. But this winter, I haven't seen or heard them until now. The courtship period for the mourning dove begins around this time, so I'll be keeping an eye out for their courtship displays.

The goldfinches are continuing to molt into their breeding plumage. Some males are showing a quite a bit more yellow than others.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Sumac BushIt looks like a deer was feeding on bark of this sumac bush. The deer tracks below the bush confirm this.

Contrary to what you might expect, the whitetail deer is most vulnerable to malnutrition in the early spring. By this time, they have used up
most of the reserves of body fat they accumulated during the fall.

When browsing on trees, deer prefer the dormant buds at the end of branches. When deer start eating the bark of trees, this can be a sign that they are unable to find more nutritious browse.

Fortunately, we have had a few warm days and more warm weather is ahead. This is causing the snow to melt at a rapid pace and some patches of bare ground are appearing. Once this occurs, the deer can feed on the various plant species that remain green throughout the winter.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
The migration of hawks and other raptors is in progress. Migrating bald eagles were seen yesterday in western Massachusetts. Among others, the red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks are also on the move.

Red-winged blackbirds and grackles, both early migrants, have recently been seen in southern Vermont.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Eastern ChipmunkThe chipmunks have been out and about a lot more lately. They come out on the warmer days - like yesterday and today - and stay in their dens on the colder days.

They've been pretty quiet so far. I haven't been hearing their usual
"chip-chip-chip" sound yet.
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