2023-2024 recap

Hi all,

It has been about a year since I gave an update on this project, and the 2023-2024 "conifer year" is coming to a close, so I figured it's time for a check-in!

This past year was a fascinating one for crossbills in the east. Throughout most of the northeast there was a massive white pine cone crop. There was also a huge irruption of types 2 and 4 from the pacific northwest into the northeast. Indeed, I encountered several large flocks of types 2 and 4 in southern Idaho while doing fieldwork on Cassia crossbills at this time last year, foreshadowing the unprecedented incursion into the northeast later.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the irrupting crossbills and the local type 12 crossbills took advantage of this historical white pine cone crop. From July through March, crossbills in the northeast ate little other than white pine. Once April hit, there was an expansion of crossbills' dietary niche to include other conifers, especially red and pitch pine. This presumably coincided with white pine shedding many of its seeds, forcing birds to switch to feeding on conifers that hold onto their seeds inside of cones for longer.

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Here is a graph showing the 2023-2024 "conifer year" data for type 12, which is the type we have the most data on. Note the dominance of white pine in the diet until April.


Many, many thanks to all of the folks who submitted crossbill observations this past year. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to get a detailed account of the feeding behavior of birds in the northeast during this incredible year! Furthermore, the project is rapidly approaching 1,000 observations, which is a number that I would have never expected to hit this early in the project's existence. I plan on running this project for several more years and am so excited to see how things progress!

July is the time that many conifer cones are starting to mature, so it's a great time to get out and find foraging crossbills, including those that may be gearing up to breed.

Thanks again to everyone for participating in this project!

iNaturalist project description: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/feeding-ecology-of-eastern-red-crossbills?tab=about
Project description on my website: https://www.ckporterlab.com/community-science

Posted on 10 de julho de 2024, 03:31 AM by cporter cporter

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