Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Earth Day to You

Yesterday, I commemorated Earth Day by biking to Orchard Park and the nearby beaver pond to check in on the birds. At the east end of the pond, a pair of northern flickers continue to excavate their nest in a small snag, they are now tail-deep into the tree.

I spotted a lot of new beaver activity including this recent chew.

I thought I spotted one of the pond's architects, but a skinny tail indicated it was a nutria, the beaver's uninvited cousin. Also swimming in the pond were a pair of Canada geese, mallards, gadwalls, and a green-winged teal.

I spotted a couple more robin nests and a new bushtit nest on my way out of the park. Using Google Earth and Powerpoint, I made a crude GIS showing locations of the nests found so far.

The orange dots are robin nests and the gray dots are bushtit nests, As you can see, the robins either have small territories, or the males are courting multiple females. The breeding system of robins has received little study, so who knows? I may be able to clarify things later during nestling feeding time.

In other news, a pair of house finches has been visiting our deck to grab seeds and nesting material. You can't see it in this photo, but the female has an unusually large upper bill that has not hindered her ability to find a mate.

Now that I can identify the pair, I wish them well whenever they appear.

1 comment:

JP said...

What a VERY cool way to use Google Earth! Urban areas, with their many markers, would be so easy to delineate territories in -- how fun! (Jeez, I feel like such a nerd.)