NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – On Tuesday February 7, 2017, our Tweetspeak class took a fieldtrip to the Jennings Environmental Center in Butler County, Pa. We went there to observe the bird species in our area and learn about their behavior and habitats. One of the ways in which we did this was sitting and listening to the instructors there who specialize in the subject of Ornithology. They tested our knowledge of bird species with an activity and talked briefly about bird habitats before taking us to the next session of our visit, birdwatching.
Our visit to the Jennings Environmental Center consisted of two birdwatching sessions. For the first session I and my fellow Tweetspeak correspondents were randomly stationed in front of windows, where we sat and began our birding observations. Through the view of the window we saw a habitat that had the appearance of was a typical forested area. But because we are still in winter, most of the trees had no leaves. During this activity, we saw quite a few different species of birds that were ofcourse native to Pennsylavania. These species included Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, House Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, and so on. The group as a whole created a combination of varying shapes, sizes, beak structures and plumage patterns. Even the behaviors of the birds varied as certain species like the Hairy Woodpecker would latch on to the side of a tree and station itself as opposed to the White-breasted Nuthatch that seemed more agile as it could scale up or down a tree.
Despite being intrigued by most of the birds I saw, there were really only two that I found to be the most memorable during this experience, and they were the Red-bellied Woodpecker and the American Goldfinch. I only saw one Red-bellied Woodpecker and it was spotted near the top of a tree performing its signature pecking motion. Although it was relatively far from me compared to the other birds, I could still make out its size and shape. It was definitely about the size of a cardinal but definitely smaller than a crow. I came to the conclusion that it was a male because of the red stripe on its head that fully extended from its nape to its crown.
The American Goldfinch wasn’t as big as the Red-bellied. It appeared to be larger than a House Sparrow but smaller than a Blue Jay. I immediately noticed it sitting on one of the trees because of its bright yellow plumage. With the help of my Sibley Bird guide I was able to confirm that it was indeed the American Goldfinch.
Knowledge about birds and their behaviors and habitats wasn’t the only thing our Tweetspeak class learned throughout this course so far. Some members have carried over valuable lessons that they have learned from our prior bird watching experiences. For example, a fellow classmate named Garrett Behringer shared with us some of the lessons he’s learned when planning for future birdwatching trips. One of the things he talked about was being mindful of the weather conditions and dressing appropriately for them. He elaborated by talking about how he now wears rubber boots whenever our class has to explore in rainy or wet conditions.