Monday, June 2, 2014

Bluebirds and Other Recent Nesters - Also, The Crow and the Woodchuck Tail (or Tale)

This Bluebird mother vigorously defends her nest area
The male Bluebird feeds the nestlings while the female waits her turn

Did you know that a mother Eastern Bluebird can be pretty tough when she needs to be? Lately one of our breeding pairs has been quite aggressive around the nest area - especially the female. Every time I walk down the trail adjacent to her nest box she swoops down at me and gives me a good scolding. Who ever said these birds were shy? Well that was probably me that said that in a previous blog. Regardless, this particular pair is anything but shy. The last time I checked inside the box she had six eggs; now, fully 3 weeks later, the young are ready to fledge and the parents are even more defensive. When I last went by the box I was really taking my life in my hands. The female Bluebird came down on me with a vengeance. She swooped at me several times and then landed on a locust branch above my head where she began chattered away. Amazingly, I survived to tell this tale.

The female flies in to feed
Note the gaping mouth of a nestling in the entrance-way 
The male is feeding now, but the female is flying in right behind him
With 6 mouths to feed, both parents are kept very busy hunting up insects
The first fledgling out of the box is protected by its fearless parents

The Bluebirds aren't the only ones breeding at the nature preserve; nests are popping up everywhere. In the forest I found a Wood Thrush that was just in the finishing stages of forming her nest. She didn't have any eggs in it yet; she was just trying it on for size. Nearby and just beneath the tree canopy, a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were nesting. I knew they had to be in there somewhere since I had seen a female with nesting material only a few days before. Interestingly, it was the male sitting on the nest incubating. With the neotropical songbirds, males don't often take on this role. It's said that the grosbeak will even occasionally sing while sitting on the nest. That's probably not the best idea if you are truly interested in keeping nest predators away, but I'll let you tell him that. I've never heard a male grosbeak sing on the nest before, but I saw a Warbling Vireo doing this exact thing just the other day. I guess that is one way to entertain yourself while incubating.
A Wood Thrush sitting in a freshly finished nest - trying it out for size
This Warbling Vireo was singing while sitting on eggs
The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak incubates eggs - only his tail and head are visible over the nest rim
Yesterday one of our crows became a little put out when a Woodchuck wouldn't budge off of her favorite feeding area. I watched the crow hop up to the Woodchuck several times and try to shift the animal, but it was no good. That chuck wasn't about to leave a good thing. Finally the crow came all the way over to the Woodchuck and yanked its tail! Most surprisingly of all, there was absolutely no reaction from the Woodchuck! It was as if this kind of thing happens to him everyday! The crow tried it again, and again there was no reaction from the chuck. What's the fun of being a notorious trickster if no one is going to acknowledge the trick? A squirrel witnessed the entire thing and didn't even come close to chuckling, which would have been the appropriate thing to do in this instance.
The crow first tries to shift the Woodchuck by cawing at it, but to no avail
What's that bird up to now?
That crazy bird is about to pull that crazy chuck's tail - And there's a Gray Squirrel for a witness

No comments:

Post a Comment