Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Leaving the Nest

The nesting season is winding down and life continues to return to normal in the apartment. Yesterday morning there were three cedar waxwing nestlings in the nest near the base of our stairs.

In the afternoon, one had climbed out on a branch, while the other two stayed in the nest. By the evening, the strayer had returned to be fed by the parents. Today the nest is empty, but I can still hear the high-pitched calls of the family flitting around the maples.

As you may recall, the waxwings started building the nest, with a little help, about five weeks ago. Since then, we have been greeted with thin, high call notes every morning indicating that the nest was still active.

The nest is well concealed, so I could not see the nestlings until just a few days ago when they resembled their parents but had smaller crests and grayer plumage.

The waxwing nesting attempt is complete, but we still have another nesting neighbor.

Each summer, there is one cliff swallow nest built near the top of the apartment. This is somewhat unusual behavior for the species, because they usually nest in large colonies, often near water. This pair seems to be doing just fine out of their usual element, as several hungry nestlings can be heard calling from the nest, even at night. One nestling poked its head out and it looks like they should fledge soon.

Speaking of leaving, our friends Randy and Amy just departed for the airport to return to Oklahoma. They stayed here during the last week while Randy and I attended the AOU meetings. Randy and Amy are avid cyclists and were instantly taken with Portland's bike scene. I get the feeling that, if our apartment was a two-bedroom, they would have offered to split the rent indefinitely.

Yesterday, I took Randy to Dawson Creek Park to show him the acorn woodpecker colony.

Randy had no idea the species could be found here and the colony was the avian highlight of his week. He tried to sneak up to get a few photos, but had to settle for some distant woodpecker profiles. The park was otherwise quiet, typical of most birding areas this time of the year.

While Randy and Amy were here, we had a great time listening to stories about Oklahoma, where Sarah and I met. It was also fun to show off our area, to which I am sure they will return.


EcoRover said...

A colleague and California native regularly enthralls me with stories of the acorn woodpecker.

Are there oaks in the Hillsboro area, or will they utilize a range of foods?

Max said...

We have native white oaks in the area, but there are also several species of exotic oaks planted as ornamentals. The woodpeckers seem to prefer the exotics and their planting may have resulted in the establishment of nesting colonies.