Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Bird Nests

I’ve seen four Robin’s nests so far this spring.  Two in cedars, one in a white pine and this one anchored to my house.  The Robins are year-round residents and spend the winter months feeding on various fruits or searching the creek edges for various arthropods and worms.

This female completed her clutch at the usual four eggs.  She’s been sitting for a week now, so the eggs should be half way to hatching.

Ledges are often used as nest sites.  Robins also readily utilize an open platform type nest box.

Usually the nest is higher than just a couple of feet above the ground.  I’m hoping this one doesn’t attract any passing predators.  The Robin nest is in close proximity to a Phoebe nest on a platform showing in the upper left corner of the photo.

The Phoebe chicks are already well developed.  I installed this nest platform specifically for the Phoebes in an attempt to keep them from nesting on the porch.  Porch nests almost always failed, usually because some unexpected late night visitor spooked the birds from the nest and the young succumbed to exposure overnight.  The Phoebes now raise at least one family each year on this platform.

The Wild Turkey nest I showed a couple of weeks ago has been plundered by some predator with a taste for eggs.  I have been purposely staying away from the nest so as not to leave a scent trail to be followed by hungry mammals.  A broken egg on the nearby walking trail was evidence of what had happened and the disturbed nest was clearly visible from a distance.

I’ve seen Opossums, Skunks and Crows do this type of damage to eggs.  Those three species are all common here.  This is why the turkey lays so many eggs.  It only takes a small percentage of successful nests to sustain the population.

The nest boxes are doing a brisk business.  Out of a dozen boxes, only one held a Bluebird nest.  Since I see several Bluebird pairs around the field, I assume some are nesting in natural cavities.

Tree Swallows occupy the majority of the boxes.  Twenty-five years ago, it was uncommon to see a nesting pair of Tree Swallows.  Bluebirds dominated the boxes at that time.

Feathers are used to line the Tree Swallow nest.  Turkey feathers are becoming more common, but the majority seem to come from domesticated ducks and chickens.

A single nest box was unoccupied and this is the reason why.  Wasps will aggressively defend their nest site from intruding birds or photographer’s heads.

The empty box did offer a platform from which the Meadowlark could sing undisturbed.  This guy tried to sing from occupied boxes, but was driven away by the resident nesting pair every time.  I’m not sure if the birds were defending their nest site against an intruder or just being critical of the Meadowlark’s vocalizations.

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