Monday, April 7, 2008

More Nests

Yesterday, Sarah, Andie, and I walked around Dawson Creek Park during a break in the rain. We found the year’s first waterfowl nests and checked in on other nests. We found a Canada goose sitting on a nest on an island where one nested last spring. The nest was a nice platform of cattails and other vegetation.

As we observed last year, the male was patrolling the pond, keeping an eye on his hen.
If you look closely, you can see her on the island.

Unlike geese, mallard hens nest alone with no one to look out for them. Sarah spotted such a hen sitting on a nest near the acorn woodpecker colony along Dawson Creek.

You probably can't see the hen in this photo, but she is sitting on her nest just before the edge of the bank.

Mallards have dismal nest survival rates, so we won’t hold out too much hope of seeing ducklings emerge from this spot.

Speaking of birds that nest without help from their mates, I revisited the local Anna’s hummingbird nest later that afternoon.

The two nestlings are growing nicely and are at least one week old, so their mom did a great job of keeping them warm during last week’s hail and snow storms.

The nest looks very bulky and well-insulated, which may have helped conserve body heat.

While taking Andie on her last walk at 10:30 pm, I passed by the nest quickly to see what goes on a night. The nest tree is near a streetlight so I could clearly see the mom trying to balance herself atop the growing young. Between the bright light and uneven sleeping surface, it did not look like she was in for a comfortable night of sleep.

The species whose nests I now expect to find is the American robin, which starts nest-building in early April. Now that the males are starting to sing by 5:50 am, it feels like spring is really here. Pre-dawn robin song always reminds me of my days as a field assistant, when, while in my tent, I would hear a bird singing at 4:00 am and I would groan, knowing that I had to emerge and go to work locating their nests. Nowadays, I hear the earlybirds and smile, happy that I can go back to sleep for a few more hours.

1 comment:

Kathryn and Ari said...

I could spend a lifetime studying bird nests. They're amazing!