Monday, May 19, 2014


I was walking near the top of a dry ridge when a large brown bird jumped from the ground and flew a short distance to perch on a fallen branch.  While I took its picture, it sat making a low grunting noise.  I had been hearing this species calling from the woods every spring for the last 12 years, but this was the first I had ever clearly seen.  I was looking at my first Chuck-will’s-widow.

Chucks are ground nesting birds and the behavior of this individual made me think there might be eggs nearby.  Even though I hadn’t been looking directly at the bird when it flushed, I was sure it had come from somewhere in this area.  I snapped this picture in order to have a reference image.  My plan was to make a quick search for the nest and the image would help me get back on the proper line if I had to detour around any fallen branches or other obstacles.

I knew the nest would be hard to see, so I was watching to make sure I didn’t put my foot down on any eggs.  I also didn’t want to keep the bird long from its eggs.  My search was carefully conducted in a slow rush.

Then I saw the eggs, identified by a red circle in the photo. 

Two eggs, essentially just placed in the open on the ground.

There’s really no nest, just a slight depression created by the brooding bird.

The mottled eggs blend perfectly with the mixed bag of leaves.  When I first moved here, the spring nights were full of the calls of Whip-poor-wills, a close relative to the Chuck-will’s-widow.  When the call of a Chuck woke me at three in the morning twelve years ago, I hurried outside and spent a half hour listening to it sing.  Since then, Chuck numbers continue to increase while Whips are on the decline.

The bird remained close while I took a couple of hurried shots of the eggs.  I was quickly away and I’m sure the eggs were covered shortly after my departure.  Incubation for this species is 20 days, so I’ll stay away long enough to let the eggs hatch in peace.  I’ll go back after that to see if I can find remnants of the hatched eggs.

No comments:

Post a Comment