Monday, October 27, 2008

October 2008

Jack Mahon and Jerry Haag put on a great Raptor Identification seminar at our October Meeting. They discussed the classes of raptors; Accipiter, Buteos, Falcons, Vultures, Eagles, Osprey and Harriers. Each of these classes of raptors has unique skills to enable it to capture and eat its prey of choice. The Falcons are built for the high-speed chase over large open areas. Their prey is often other birds. Harriers are built to fly low over marshes or meadows looking for rodents and other small mammals. Their flight appears un-hurried, often lazy. Accipiters are built for speed and maneuverability inside the forest where they chase smaller birds. Their rudder-like tails allow them to twist and turn inside of trees to capture their prey. Buteos use their long broad wings and fanned tails to catch the wind and soar high overhead. They prey on mammals and larger birds.

Local examples of Accipiters are Sharp-shinneds and Cooper’s Hawks. It is my theory that if an Accipiter is cruising your yard, the birds will flush and leave the area. They know that he can pick them off of the feeder. If it is a Falcon such as an American Kestrel or Merlin, the birds will freeze on the feeder. They know that he can get them in the air but cannot maneuver around the feeders. Test this theory by noticing what kind of raptor causes your birds to either flee or freeze.

Jack and Jerry also discussed the Christmas Bird Count. Many of our members signed up to participate this year. If any others of you are interested in helping out, please let me know. I will forward the information to Jerry Haag, the Christmas Bird Count Coordinator for Salem and Cumberland Counties. This Citizen Science gives ornithologists valuable information as to the health and distribution of various species of birds. The long history of Christmas Bird Counts allows them to make educated guesses as to the affects of Global Warming on Bird Migration as well as the impact of critical habitat loss. We all enjoy the birds and this is a way pay them back for the joy they bring us.

We only had one walk this month with four of us walking the Christmas Tree Lane portion of Supawna Meadows. We walked the woodland trail around the beaver pond. We saw lots of fresh sign of beavers gnawing the trees. You will see some in our slide show. We saw Yellow-rumped Warblers, also affectionately known as Butter Butts due to the yellow patch on their rumps. We found a large snake skin probably from a Rat Snake. After a brief chase we got a good look at a Wood Thrush. It was a beautiful day for a walk and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I hope you can join us next time.

I have included a few slides in the slide show that are from other walks I took at Supawna and other places in Salem County this month.

I also attended the Fall Cape May Birding Weekend and had the privilege to walk with Ken Kaufman and his wife Kim (yes, Ken is the author of the Kaufman Birding Guide and many other books). The number and variety of birds was amazing. One thing I learned is that the Black Throated Green Warbler in fall is neither black throated nor Green as you can tell from the picture. I also learned that while Cape May is a funnel that brings huge quantities of birds together, they don’t cross the bay there. They move further up the river to cross where it is narrower. Many cross right here in Salem County. Marilyn Patterson