Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring is Off and Running - Migrants are Coming Through and Some Nesting has Begun

An Osprey flies overhead - many nest in the region now
Mid-April is a very active time in the natural world. Migratory birds are is in a hurry to get to their territories and begin the serious business of breeding. Raptors have been passing through the region in good numbers. Most have not been given a warm welcome by our resident Red-tailed Hawks which have already been on their breeding territory for several weeks.
A male American Kestrel perches over the beaver pond and watches for prey
The American Kestrel is a pigeon-sized falcon that primarily can be found in open farmland setting - although they are not nearly as common as they once were. The species still breeds in the area, but I've never managed to get a pair interested in using one of our nest boxes - until now? For the last 3 days a pair has been showing some interest in some tree cavities and wood duck boxes around our beaver pond, but it's unlikely that they will actually stay to breed despite the available supply of prey. It was amazing how upset these small predators made some of the other wildlife at the pond. Unsurprisingly the geese didn't notice them, but some of the small ducks did. A Belted Kingfisher was probably the most upset. She blasted through giving her staccato call at full volume. At one point she darted right in front of one of the small predators and pretty much told it to go find its own pond. The Kestrels were occasionally diving down to the water, which I thought was unusual. They may have been catching insects. I have seen them in fields picking off grasshoppers before.
The male American Kestrel is our most colorful raptor
For the last 2 weeks Turkey Vultures have been seen daily
A male Wood Duck swims by the small island that a Canada Goose is nesting on
As she settles in to incubate eggs, the goose blends well into the surroundings
This female Mallard found an excellent place to make a nest
Small ducks like these migrant Green-winged Teal have also been visiting the pond 
Migrant Ring-necked Ducks gather in deeper water
And they're off!
This week the Wild Turkeys have been performing courtship rituals in the fields 
Male Northern Flickers twitch their tails from side to side as they compete for territory 
Migrant Fox Sparrows have been singing in the hedgerows all week
White-throated Sparrows spent the winter here, but will soon depart for their breeding grounds

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