Tag Archives: nest

A very nice nest

HW was brushing alders, and discovered an impressive nest.  He broke off the branch to show me, and demonstrate the features of the nest:

The nest builder used a combination of twigs, thick grass, and plastic threads from a feed sack,then moved down to finer grass for the inside bowl, and lined it with pine needles. From the back of the nest, you can see how the builder brought in short twigs and stacked, layered and crossed them, securing them with weaving, in the crotch of the host tree, almost exactly like we would go about building a treehouse platform in the fork of a tree.The ends of the “foundation” twigs are all sticking out the back. You can see how it was made to support this whole area. Birds are marvels.  It is a very nice nest.

Near tragedy

Our wonderful neighbour was over to bush-hog my field last night.  I need to move the greenhouse this year (not looking forward to it, no), and there were some robust shrubs growing right where it needs to go.

Anyhoo, he was driving around, mowing, and once, right when he came to a stop, I saw the weeds rustle directly in front of his front wheel.  As he backed out, I ran to the spot, fearing that a bird had been hit (I’d been paranoid and been tramping through all the weeds in front of him trying to flush out frightened chickens that were used to the tall weeds being a safe zone).

Horrors!  A nest!

A guinea nest.   His front tractor wheel had rolled into it, crushing a half dozen eggs, but not rolled over it, so most of the eggs were intact.  The eggs were kindled, with bloody yolks, but only a few days past.  I quickly scooped out shells and yolks, tossing them out, trying to clean up the mess with my fingers and restore her nest.  It was a nice nest, too, dried grasses lined up in a swirl. 

The hen herself had stayed to the bitter end, jumping out only when that black tire loomed over her, and we had both seen her flee at the last second.  My flushing hadn’t unseated her, only imminent death.

I did not bother her again by “checking on her” that night, hoping she would come back.

I didn’t even know I had a broody guinea!  I hadn’t missed her.

And what is she thinking?  Aren’t there enough brats around?  I’m flattered that she thinks this is a great place to raise children, but how many is enough?  Sheesh.

In the morning she was on her nest.   I can see her scowling in there. 

Hopefully she got back on them promptly; if she returned by nightfall the remaining eggs would be fine.  Now the weeds are gone, she’s far less concealed.  Her nest has a view.

Right there by the pigland too, right where I was planning to shift the oinkers to next.

 

The time of the fledglings

In addition to the local young woodpecker, who continues to flop around the house with no fear and seems to never get more than five feet off the ground, I found this little guy on our path.

I surprised the whole family, I suppose, as there were three full size robins flapping around in the trees, panicking and screeching.  The chick, size of a guinea chick, let me walk right up.

It doesn´t seem to have a lot of lift.  It seemed a big achievement to make it up on the stick pile, and then it flap flap flap! Coasted down into the field.  I wonder if this is the first day out of the nest. 

 

There´s a woodpecker zooming backing and forth from in front of the beehive to over the poplars behind the pigs.  She´s as regular as a transatlantic flight and obviously is tending a nest at one end of the flight path, or the other.

Meanwhile, back in the livestock zone:

It´s a pig´s life.  The pigs are happy to lounge in the shade. 

The Oreo mom insists on being inside the pig fence.  She´s mastered jumping up and through, where the holes in the fence are bigger, while the babies flow right through.

She´s out there now, smack in the middle of pigland.  She found a shady spot she likes.

I guess the pigs have proved that they won´t hurt her or her chicks.  At least she´s not worried.  They are 15´away sleeping off a big meal of milk  in the pig house.

Now I can´t electrify the fence if she´s making a habit of this.  Which is ok.  The fence is off more often than on these days.  The pigs and I have an agreement.  If I meet all their needs, they are perfectly content to stay in the fence.  Which means they are really in charge.  They´re simple girls, though.  They want shade, water – poured in the bowl and over their heads, variety, food before they get too hungry, and sometimes a scratch.

Funny how the birds make decisions.  Or is it the chicks?  Oreo mom has been all independent and  furtive, always hiding in shrubs and drifting out into the pasture, towards the pigs where only  the guineas roam, while Blondie mom has went her way the opposite direction and rejoined the Colonel´s main tribe.  Hey, I had some chicks!

Birdhouse: occupied

HW found one of the half dozen birdhouses I put up last spring on the ground.  Its mounting stick had broken off.

Surprise!  It had been occupied!  The hole was customized too.  I was pleasantly surprised and gratified – I saw NO sign of any of the birdhouses I put up being used, ever, but clearly, I was wrong.  Cool!

We have lots of snags and I know of dozens of holes in trees, many known to have hosted bird families, around here, so I thought my birdhouses weren’t terribly necessary, with all the options at hand (or wing).

Now I´m going to have to make the round of birdhouses and check them all, see if they need cleaning.  I kind of mounted them in trees at random.

Of course, I see some fibers in there that are familiar.  There´s some polyester stuffing (cozy!) out of one of the dog´s blankets – a duvet that he opened up, and some of my string line that a mouse chewed.

The nest and the inside are pretty worse for wear, wet and gunky.  Perhaps the house was lying on the ground for some time.  The wood is soggy, but still smells like cedar, and I think will dry out fine for a respectable re-use.

There was a vacated chrysalis of unusual size attached to the roof of the house (inside).  What the heck came out of that?

Three nests

In the winter, all the nests become apparent.  img_5176

Completely hidden in plain sight when the leaves are on, exposed when they come off.  These well-made little nests are sewn right on to the branches, feats of micro engineering that stay whole, bowled, and upright in the storms.

The first is in an alder between the greenhouse and the beehive.  Well traveled spot.  They don’t seem to go to too much trouble to avoid us and our movements.  img_5175

The next is on a long arm of one of the big regal apple trees right by the farmhouse.  Also in the thick of activity.  This may have been a robin nest as the robin was acting furtive around the apple trees quite a bit.  But it seems so small.  Also precarious, but looks are deceiving.

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The third I found earlier in the winter when a guinea fowl was snatched in the middle of the day (ending the hens’ good-weather outdoor privileges).  There was no sign of foul play, and hopeful she was only lost, I mounted a search, walking in ever wider circles, becoming upset and resigned to the truth.

Thrashing through the brush, I ran into a knee-high nest, a precious little thing built by some grass-nester.  Two dead leaves that happened to fall into it curled up in it like they’re at rest.

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This is why we can’t get anything done in the spring.  If we’re not early enough, there are birds nesting everywhere we want to clear brush or trees.

Fledging day

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The trio of barn robins fledged today (clutch #2).  H.W. went in to look at them, and said they were all side by side in the nest, looking out, but when he looked up at them, they all burst out of the nest and strewed about on the floor.  He started to scoop them up and put them back in the nest (Uhoh, uhoh), when he got attacked from the air by the parents and beat a retreat.  So they were out of the nest, and stayed out.  Premature fledging?  The rest of the day was full of low-flying overhead zooms from trees to roofs and back, with clumsy landings.  The mother robin shrieked her head off all day, screaming concern or encouragement to the little ones.  “OMG!  The branch!  The wind!  People!  Veer!  No, not there! Ailerons, now! OMG!  Not the roof!  Don’t follow him!  I can’t look!  Augh!  My heart!!!”, or that’s what it sounded like.  We seem to have missed this day on the last batch.

The fledgers seemed ok.  By sunset they had spread themselves pretty wide, judging from the changing source of the mother’s piercing narrative.

Chickadee tragedy (?)

I snuck over to peek at the chickadee nest, and, the horror!  The dead tree was snapped off right through the nest!

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So much for super secure :(  The chickadee’s nest excavations, that made the wall of the tree 3/16” thin on one side, must have weakened the tree too much.  We’ve had some wet and windy days.

I studied the scene and found no trace of violent death from the tree snapping or predators later.  Not a feather, nor shells, on the ground. The top of the tree was lying next to the base.

One tiny poop and one wet feather in the nest- it seems improbable that she raised her young slyly enough for us not to notice comings and goings and they got out in time, but I can hold out hope.

The nest is almost wholly built out of my hair and fibres I recognize from our Icelandic wool blanket and our fleece sheets.  Incredible.  Basically he felted together a little bowl.  I’m glad they benefited from our intrusion here, then.

IMGP7008Once I saw him on the ground outside the camper door, gathering a few hairs and a tuft of wool that’d been swept outside.  He was really working at it, trying to tug the little tangle loose from where it was stuck on twigs and dirt.  Each yank and he’d emit a little “eep”.  The hairs were good and stuck and it looked frustrating.  “Eep, eep, eep, EEP!”  Something I wouldn’t even see- a few brown hairs on the ground- and that little bird spied it.

By the barn, the robin is very sly while feeding her chicks- HW has often worried that she hasn’t been around, but she clearly has been around, enough to rear up clutch #2 to a full feathered trio.  Clutch #1.  They’ll be out of the nest any day.  I should have taken a picture on the day I discovered the little pink wigglers with bruise blue eye bulges.  There were only two, sharing the nest with the third blue egg,  and I assumed that the remaining egg was a dud.  But no, it must have been the day they were born, and the third had not yet hatched.  They barely fit in the nest now, overflowing it.

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Chickadee mama

IMGP6600We’ve been scrupulously avoiding the chickadee nest to not put her off, but we haven’t seen chickadees in the area for ages.  So when H.W. asked “can we go look in the nest yet?” I agreed because I was dying to know too.  It’s been about three weeks so I was assuming they had abandoned it because of us.  We tiptoed over and peeked in.  She’s in there!  At least eight inches down in a cylindrical hole smaller than a pop can, I saw the top of her little black cap and her beak, looking around.  Yay!  We didn’t put her off; she’s busy making some more tiny chickadees.  What a super-secure little silo of a nest.  No wonder chickadees seem pretty reproductively successful.

Woodpeckers

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Found a woodpecker nest!  Big tree with three perfect holes carved in it.  Saw the woodpecker, not sure what kind, arrive to the upper hole and woooop, slip in headfirst and disappear.  It’s quite high in the tree, but right where we’ve heard a lot of headbanging industry lately.  So they were building a nest.

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And there’s the woodpecker

Robin’s nest

They grow up so fast!  No longer hairless wonders.
They grow up so fast! No longer hairless wonders.

We have a clutch of robin’s eggs in the shed.  Three nearly hairless little birds, asleep whenever I look at them.  That means we will have to try and keep the shed from falling down before they fledge.

H.W. discovered them; he was always seeing the robin in the same place, looking “up to something”.

The mother, and possibly father (sometimes there’s two), it’s true, are always boinging around in the area, like they’re on springs, the way robins do.  Usually there’s something hanging out of the beak, too, so they’re working hard bringing up the babies.

I just learned that crows (I admire, adore, respect, revere corvids) are primarily an urban bird, and a formidable predator to most songbirds. So if crows show up here, it will be because we drew them here, providing them with resources.  I plan to try to deter them, to preserve the bird life that was flourishing here before we got here.  Crows are flourishing all over the world because of their brains and adaptability, but the songbirds they predate are threatened and in retreat everywhere that people expand their habitation into rural areas.  I want to protect and encourage the local birds that were here before we were.

I want this robin’s chicks to make it, since I’m pretty sure it was a raven that savaged my barn robin nestlings in BC.

There’s been one crow that flies over  high and fast in a straight line midmorning, then returns four or five hours later.  She’s shown no sign of stopping.   When he passes he riles up the hawk and owls – they all talk.  I remarked the crows really do sound different here, from B.C. crows, having just read about regional differences in corvid sounds.   H.W. said  “Mmm, the Maritime accent?”

A few birds need to be encouraged to stay.  Swallows (and bats too).  We could stand for a whole lot more blackflies to get swallowed.  There’s a house up the road that has dozens of birdhouses up, and the air and wires around them are filled with tree swallows, so they’re doing something right.  I hope it’s an if you build it they will come scenario.

Chickadees

The daily birdsong here is breathtaking.  Constant, loud, varied.  Several kinds of woodpeckers, and other birds I don’t recognize beyond their type-wrens, juncos, finches.  The songbird life is rich.

In particular the chickadees seem to have no concern about having us as neighbours.  There’s one or two always chatting in a tree right over my head, or flitting by, or bouncing on a branch nearby.  One’s around me so often I feel like I’m being followed.  H.W. says they are not following him.  I think chickadees are endlessly adorable with their fast, perky energy.

It turned out we parked the camper right by a chickadee nest in the making- two, but it seemed to choose one over the other after a couple days.  It was hollowing out a dead tree started by a woodpecker.  In the first tree the hole was only deep enough for half the little bird body, so I could see the tail bobbing – what is it doing in there?  Then it would back out, fly to a nearby branch, and pfft, spit out a beakful of sawdust.  Repeat.  It seemed to choose the second tree and give up on the first, though.  This hole is lower to the ground but smaller, and the tree is only about 4” diameter.  We looked in and the cavity is about a foot deep!

Impressive for such a tiny bird, one mouthful at a time.  I haven’t seen him working on the excavation for a couple of days, so I suspect and hope that this means she’s setting on her eggs now.

*I guess he was gone courtin’;  he brought back a nice lady!  We were lucky enough to catch her inspecting the nest, and she must have approved of it, because then they both danced an excited little shimmy dance, and mated!  Proving the shimmy is universal.  So now she will be laying, and then setting.

 

Tailpipe swallow

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This little bird decided that the truck tailpipe was prime real estate.

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We weren’t parked five minutes before I noticed a swallow swooping unusually near the truck and I watched to see what the heck he was doing.

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Clearly, he/she was scheming on the oh-so-inviting cave-like atmosphere of the tailpipe, and promptly staking out his territory.

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So cute, and so misguided.  Hope he/she found a better space to claim after we drove off.