February 22, 2021

Field Journal 2

Field Journal 2: ID and Flight Physiology
Feb 20, 2021
Start time: 9:05
End time: 10:53
Location: UVM Campus, Burlington, VT
Weather: 19 degrees F, 70-80% cloud cover, NW wind at 5-10mph
Habitats: open areas with lone trees and buildings, suburban neighborhoods, forested areas

Observing the flight pattern of a House Sparrow is much different from that of a Ring-billed Gull. When looking at the House Sparrow, their wing flaps are very frequent and frantic during flight as they try to maneuver around their environment. The particular group of House Sparrows I was observing often moved locations in one small shrub to another, utilizing their elliptical shaped wings to easily change flight direction and speed to navigate their habitat. The Ring-billed Gull on the other hand exhibited very different behavior and flight patterns. The individuals that were observed primarily coasted through open air, with only very occasional wing flaps and no change of direction in flight. Their high aspect ratio wing shape allows them to efficiently glide long distances through the air, navigating their habitat consisting primarily of open spaces and lengthy travel.

Wing shape, flight style, and habitat niche are all very clearly related to one another. When looking at very specific habitats, often inhabited by particular species of birds, they may require specialized modes of transportation. For example, when looking at grassy fields and open habitats, species may benefit from being able to travel distances with high speed. This will allow them to efficiently travel throughout their habitat, and easily catch prey species such as flying insects and quickly avoid predators. However, a dense forest would demand a very different form of movement in order for a species to survive. Many obstacles and tight barriers require species to be able to maneuver with great control in both direction and speed of flight. This would allow them to fly efficiently and both find food or escape predatory species with ease.

Looking further into these relationships, wing shape often dictates the flight style of a given species of bird. For example, expanding on previous examples, an open field habitat requiring fast speed, would most likely contain species with a high speed wing. This wing shape, most notably containing a very fine and sharp wing tip, allows a bird to travel very quickly throughout the air with great ease. This adaptation would allow bird species to thrive in open areas with flying prey species, as they have the capabilities to take advantage of these available resources. On the contrary, species with elliptical wings will have very different flight capabilities. The short and wide wing shape allows a bird to have excellent maneuverability within the air, giving them great control over speed and movement of their flight. Species with this wing shape will often be found in densely forested habitats, that, as previously discussed, require species to have such great maneuverability to navigate their habitat and survive within it.

The mini activity was very interesting, as it really forced me to pay attention to very nitty gritty details of the species of bird that I would have previously overlooked. I really enjoyed taking the time to understand the integrate characteristics of the bird that make its species distinct from others, and I hope this will have evolved my identification abilities in the future.

Downy Woodpecker Sketch:


Posted on February 22, 2021 21:57 by acshiers acshiers | 30 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment