Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Noble Woods Nirvana

This morning, Andie the dog decided to accompany Sarah to her workplace, so I elected to work on a nest survival manuscript at my new favorite coffee shop. On the way home, I stopped by Noble Woods Park on Baseline Avenue.

I had only visited the park once two winters ago, so I was unprepared for all that I saw.

As soon as I left the parking lot, I found a winter wren brining material into a cavity in a small snag. I don’t know if this nest will be used for roosting or reproduction, so I will be sure to return and find out!

The park has a great floristic composition with a bottomland forest along Rock Creek containing alder, cottonwood, ash, and hazel trees. Up the slope, there were huge redcedars, Doug firs, grand firs, and white oaks.

There were signs of pileated woodpeckers all over the big trees and snags like the one below that make great nest sites for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and brown creepers.

At an opening near the top of a hill, I heard a pair of bushtits calling. I watched them for a while until I spotted them weaving lichens and spider webs into the “collar” of what will be a sock-shaped nest in the lower branches of a Doug fir.

This is the earliest nesting behavior I’ve observed of this species by one day. The pair will continue working on the nest until the end of the month and the young will probably fledge in early May.

I found many old robin nests and heard many birds singing away, including Bewick’s wrens and song sparrows, which are often tough to tell apart. I now hope to lead an Audubon field trip here in May when nesting season will be in full swing and the long lost migrants will have returned.

Pleased with my rediscovery, I finished playing hooky and returned home to begin work on a new stack of nest sheets sent over by the Forest Service.

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