29-31 March 2000

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  • Strong gusty winds all day and into the evening on 28 March had a definite impact around Hilton Pond Center. Many branches broken during the January 2000 ice and snow storms finally came down, but so did thousands of blossoms from Black Cherry trees (Prunus serotina). On the morning of 29 March the ground was littered with the long flower clusters (right) that are characteristic of this species. The clusters have a stalk that apparently breaks easily when the wind blows at 25-30 mph for extended periods. Loss of flowers doesn't bode well for Black Cherry production this year--or for the many birds and small mammals that partake of the fruit. (Photo © Hilton Pond Center)

  • As usual at this time of year, Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina) are increasing in number at Hilton Pond Center. Although a few "chippies" are around during winter months, they are relatively scarce until March. In January and February 2000 we banded 15 chippies each month; then 16 from 1-19 March; 11 from 20-30 March; and 11 on 31 March alone. More than 20 Chipping Sparrows from previous years have also been recaptured this winter--the oldest two were banded in April and May 1997, making them at least four years old. Curiously, many of the older Chipping Sparrows are missing claws or portions of their toes--likely the result of frostbite in a previous winter. This phenomenon is also common among Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) captured for banding. (Photo © Hilton Pond Center)

Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including all articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.