Rutgers Scarlet Knight-Herons RIDE AGAIN (literally, this time!)

I’ve been lucky to be a part of the Rutgers Scarlet Knight-Herons World Series of Birding  (WSB) team for the last two years. After last year’s event our team came to a consensus that we needed to try something different; something that was more in-line with our ideals as ecologists, conservationists, and more simply put: human beings. On that morning-after, when many a perfectly normal person questions their behavior through foggy recollection of a wild-night-gone-by, we decided that in 2011 we would do a carbon-neutral WSB big day. We hadn’t decided whether we would do the entire Cape May County, a different limited geographical area such as Forsythe NWR, or shoot for the coveted “south of the canal” Cape Island Cup. In the months that followed the 2010 event our team experienced tragedy with the sudden passing of Charlie Kontos, one of the four founding members. Early this year it became clearer that prior obligations would also strip our captain, Brian Clough, from the 2011 team roster. Even up until the final registration deadline it wasn’t certain whether we’d have a team… but then the stars aligned and old friends jumped on board to bring our team together again. Last week Ben Baiser (Rutgers alum and fellow lab-mate during my PhD) and Bill Lynch (also a founding member of the team) were able to clear their schedules to bring the Rutgers Scarlet Knight-Herons into contention for the 2011 Cape Island Cup. Together the three of us will spend 24-hours pedaling our way around Cape Island in an attempt to identify as many species of birds as we can. We will not only be competing against several other teams, but as far as I know, no other team is vying for the Cape Island Cup sans carbon emissions (others are doing the Carbon Footprint Cup, but are not limiting themselves to Cape Island, and therefore are competing against a different pool of contenders).

Because the World Series of Birding is a fund-raising event, I respectfully ask you to consider making a pledge to our team in the name of Graduate Student Research. We will donate all of our proceeds to the Rutgers Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association to explicitly support summer research grants. Whether you can pledge a quarter, dollar, or a crisp new ‘Benjamin’ for each species we see, every bit of your donation will go to supporting important research being conducted at our Alma mater.

You can make your pledge in a number of ways. First is the PayPal link here You’ll notice the email is billtacular@gmail- since the PayPal account is administered by Bill Lynch. Alternatively (and so you can maximize the amount of your donation which goes to our cause and not skimmed off by PayPal) you can send a personal check to me at my work address:

David La Puma * New Jersey Audubon Society * 600 Route 47 N * Cape May Courthouse * NJ * 08210

Whether your support is moral or financial, we appreciate every bit of it, so Thank You in Advance.

 

Kindest Regards,

 

The 2011 Scarlet Knight-Herons

The Dawn Chorus

If you’re like me, you don’t have air conditioning in your house. Therefore, you’ve probably noticed the dawn chorus outside your window well before you’re fully awake. It usually begins around 30 minutes before sunrise, and continues for about 45 minutes after the sun breaks the horizon. Several theories have been proposed to explain the timing and frequency of birdsong during this early morning concert; these include foraging efficiency (it’s more efficient to sing before you can see well enough to forage, then once it’s bright enough, eat like crazy), ability to detect predators (evolution would tend to favor those individuals that could see their predators when they were singing… otherwise becoming an easy breakfast), and sound transmission (sounds should carry clearer and further in still morning air than they would in the more turbulent atmosphere characteristic of later in the day). As one of his major findings, Karl Berg discovered a correlation between eye size and time of first song for birds in a broadleaf forest in Ecuador. His findings support the idea that light levels are an important driver in the pattern of birdsong during the dawn chorus. You can download his paper here.

Last week I co-taught (along with Ben Baiser and our advisor, Julie Lockwood) the Rutgers Field Techniques course down in Tuckerton, NJ, where we assigned three field projects to three groups of students. One project was to investigate the pattern of birdsong in the dawn chorus in the Pine Barrens. The group hypothesized that birds which tend to forage in the canopy would begin singing earlier than those that foraged on the forest floor (inefficient foraging hypothesis). Those that forage primarily in the mid-story would fall somewhere between the two extremes. After two days of field recording and observing bird foraging behavior the group found a statistically significant relationship between foraging niche and time of first song. Interestingly, this relationship was the reverse of what they expected (ground-foragers began singing first, while canopy-foragers began singing the latest). While this field course was primarily intended as an exercise in how to design a field experiment to test a hypothesis, collect and analyze data, and present results, these preliminary findings provide an interesting starting point for a comparative study between a variety of habitats. The group concluded that they should collect light penetration data in order to further evaluate the difference between the New Jersey pine forest and the Ecuadorian broadleaf forest site from Berg et al. (2006).

In preparation for teaching the course, on May 25th, I used two Rode nt5 omni-directional microphones (thanks Casey!) to record the dawn chorus at the Hutcheson Memorial Forest, in Somerset NJ. I began the recording at 4:39am and recorded until just after 7:00am. The recording was made on a Marantz PMD670 compact flash recorder. Below is the entire recording in two parts, with the only edit being the removal of 27 seconds where a plane flew overhead. I hope to make more recordings, both here and elsewhere, and post them as I go. I’ll have the pine barrens recording up sometime soon as well. Enjoy listening to the dawn chorus, and testing your identification skills along the way!

Enjoy
David

Part 1. This one begins at 4:29am, so there’s a good amount of “quiet time” at the beginning, although you can hear the birds in the old field adjacent to the forest already singing. Something, a screech owl, I think, does a freakout call+bill clapping right over the recorder about 19 seconds into the recording. It repeats it again soon after, from a little farther away.

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Dawn chorus recording (Pt 1)
Hutcheson Memorial Forest, Somerset, NJ
David La Puma
Marantz PMD670
Stereo; 2 Rode nt5 microphones
Edited in Audacity 1.2.5
Converted to mp3 in iTunes 7.6.2

Part 2. This recording continues where part 1 ended, at about 6:00am.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Dawn chorus recording (Pt 2)
Hutcheson Memorial Forest, Somerset, NJ
David La Puma
Marantz PMD670
Stereo; 2 Rode nt5 microphones
Edited in Audacity 1.2.5
Converted to mp3 in iTunes 7.6.2

Taking too long to load? want to download the mp3 file?
Here are the links:

http://woodcreeper.com/audio/DawnChorus_HMF_Pt1.mp3
http://woodcreeper.com/audio/DawnChorus_HMF_Pt2.mp3

Interestingness




RunForTheWoods_58

Originally uploaded by woodcreeper.

Last Saturday…

I was photographing our annual Run For The Woods fundraiser at the Frank G. Helyar Woods (part of the Rutgers Gardens). I love this guy’s display of school spirit! If you can’t read the writing on the paper pinned to his shirt- it says “IMUS SUCKS

On another note…

the Onion has crossed over into birding culture with this fantastic critique of the Sibley Guide. Thanks to Chris Vogel for bringing this to my attention.