Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hummer sighted and teenagers galore

I've been very disappointed at the lack of hummingbird sightings this year. I've got two feeders out and the Turks Cap and honey suckle are in bloom so I expect to see a lot of the little birds. Yesterday was the first sighting since my last post about them way way back saying they were back from Mexico. And the bird wasn't feeding, it was buzzing around my juniper tree in the front yard. I've never found a nest, but I suspect the little birds nest in that tree. I'll keep my eyes peeled, and this blog updated.

Lots of teenagers out though. I got a nice picture of male and female cardinals last Saturday while it was raining. I've noticed Wrens and Blue Jays out in numbers too, not to mention the ubiquitous house sparrows, starlings and grackles. The house sparrows and starlings are ballooning in numbers this year and harassing native birds. I've seen some sights on starling control and I'll look at ways to reduce their impact on the native species.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mockingbird central

The area around my work is a veritable nursery for Mockingbirds.
There are lots of small trees (new landscaping) and bushes in this area and that seems to be the mockers' favorite place to nest. An amazing number of nests are at eye level.
I've learned to home in on the baby birds high pitched whistle call and find them. See my pictures. I managed to get a parent, a nest and a fledgling on camera. The parents didn't attack for some reason.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Starling babies vs. Sparrow babies

Talked to Mike and Barbara today. Barbara gave up on the "starling" baby after 3 days of exhausting work. She turned it in to the wildlife refuge who said it was a house sparrow. They do have 2 nesting sites on their property. We were all surprised though to hear that because the baby's gape was so yellow. What we got wrong was that starlings are yellow not just around the mouth, like sparrows, but inside the mouth, like in this photo of 10 day olds for the amazing site www.starlingtalk.com.

I am an ignorant dork!

Luckily, I keep looking for info to offset my ignorance.

Those were not two halves of one nest. They were two separate nests. And they didn't have "bottoms" cuz they attach like cradles against a vertical wall. They are the nest of Chimney Swifts and I obviously have a family nesting in my chimney. The mucilage on the corners of the nest is what attaches them to the wall. Here's are the nests. (I put the remaining egg in one of them to demonstrate what it would look like.)

Here's a close up.

I've seen the little guys flying into the chimney, but they are hard to photograph cuz they don't stop or light first. They just fly right in.

Here's a link to a swift webcam in Driftwood TX, (not far from my Central Austin home):


Eggs are gone

I left the eggs and nest outside and they were mostly gone this morning. Obviously, they were still a snack even without any liquid left. The yolks were the prize I think.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Nest Disaster, Dove redux, Flycatcher

So, Virginia mentions that she saw a small bird go down my chimney. I had ash in the fireplace from the last fire of the season, so I decided to clean it. Here's a picture of what I found.

You can see the eggs in that photo, but you can't see the half nest I found in the ash. Here's a shot of the nest and eggs.

When I looked up the chimney to see what I could see, I found another part of the nest and another egg on a ledge just above the fireplace. Here's a shot of the whole thing.

These eggs were obviously very new when they fell. A dried yolk was still intact.

The nest was 8 cm in diameter and the eggs were just under 2 cm in length and white. The material in the nest was leaf stems from a pecan tree, The bottom of the nest was pretty none existent. I wonder what bird it might have been?

Later, I saw what looked like a nest in the Elm tree across the street. It was a Dove's nest. Perhaps a replacement for the one lost 2 weeks ago?

Finally, I saw this flycatcher in the elm at evening feeding time. Great Crested? He moved about so quickly, this was the best shot I could get.

6-09-06 Dive bomber! The Mockingbord

I missed a great photo op this morning cuz I saw a mom, dad and fledgling mockingbird at their nest in a fruitless pear tree when I went into work at Duval and Mopac. This is a great breeding ground for mockers as they are everywhere, nest in the small trees, only 6 to 8 feet off the ground. I went to lunch close to home so I grabbed my camera in hopes of getting a good pic. But it was so hot, they were elsewhere and the baby was gone too.

When I came out of work around 5, I saw a mocker flitting about in a small oak when a woman went by on her way to the garage. I looped around to take it's picture and it was squawking at me the whole time. I took this photo right before it came at me!
(The second photo is a blow up of the first to show the passion in the bird's eyes!)
I was attempting a new shot and I saw, through my lens, it coming right at me! I missed the shot as I was ducking. The third shot is the bird after it pulled up from the attack and landed nearby, still squawking.

6-08-06 House Finch

My thistle feeder attracted a house finch today. I've been hoping for gold finches, but I'll take a house finch. My camera has trouble focusing on little birds in busy situations and the manual focus isn't easy to use. This is the best focus I could get.

6-06-06 Woodpeckers!

The red-bellied woodpeckers are back!

Here's a series of photos of the couple and their new home in my front yard pecan. Very happy to have them back!

The male has a completely red head and the female has red only on the back of the head. Check it out.

6-04-06 Cardinal!

I never got a photo, but Barbara rescued a baby starling from her cat Leah. The rescue folks wouldn't tale it, so she decided to feed it by hand and care for it. It was doing great the first few days and the neighbor kids from two houses up were super interested. You can tell a your starling from the very yellow gape they have around their mouth.

Meanwhile, a juvenile from the long standing cardinal family came by the feeder and bath.

Here's a close up. He's still pretty fluffy and not too red yet, but her flies very well and is feeding himself. He's past the begging stage.

Meanwhile, here's the owl couple. Barbara reports the baby is doing well. I heard the Blue jay screaming at the owls but couldn't get a good shot of them. Oh well.

6-3-06 House Sparrows and Grackles

While over at Mike and Barbara's looking at the owl family, I noticed many a hose sparrow landing on the phone lines near the owl tree. I had assumed they were heading for the nest they have in the attic vent of M&B's house. I was wrong.

They were heading to a nest they had made in a woodpecker hole in a lower branch of the owl tree.

That didn't seem a real good place to raise young, cuz owls have no problem eating sparrow, physically or ethically. And sure enough Barbara reports that she's seen the male owl attack the nest. The sparrows are still hanging in there though.

Later I was captivated by the grackles. This Juvenile was in the grass with his head way over to one side. What was he doing? Is that food in his/her mouth?

Then two Juveniles were following mom around begging for food as she was trying to bathe and drink. They can fly and all but they still demand to be fed. I notice the moms aren't having any of that this week. Juvies are own their own.

Finally, an interesting meeting of two males at the bath. Here's impressive great tailed grackle male 1

Here's no. 2

Here's the stretched neck dance they do together. I'm not sure of the purpose, because I've never seen them fight during this dance. Plus I think since the Juvies are on the wing, this doesn't have to do with mating. Anyone know, let me know.

After one left they other had a little drink.

6-2-06 Owl nest found!

Fast forward to 6-2-06.

Mike and Barbara have been watching the Owls and finally found the nest! Here it is--a hollow branch left over from a major branch breaking off their pecan tree. Another big storm blew through and this morning, Barbara found a mortally wounded owlet soaked and head at a weird angle breathing but with great labor. It was at the base of the tree, right below the nest hole. It died within 20 minutes.

However, Barbara called me over this evening because she heard the momma owl whistle in a way she hadn't heard before. On instinct, she checked the owl nest hole. An Owlet appeared!

Momma was, of course, nearby.

5-28-06 Baby Dove

Mike and Barbara had just told me of a White-Winged Dove's nest in their Owl Tree the day before. Lo and behold, it came crashing to the ground in the high winds and rain last night. They tried putting the little booger in a basket hung under the eaves of their house near the tree from which it came. They were hoping mom would attend it. No luck

Here's a Close Up of the babe.

Here's the delinquent Mom. They delivered the babe to the local wildlife rescue place.

Let's get caught up...5-27-06

I haven't posted in awhile, but that don't mean that lots hasn't been happening.

This is the best photo of our local star, the eastern screech, to date. I think this is the male. Compare the ear feathers to the one in the previous post. I think that is the female.

Check out the Close Up. He was ready Mr. Demille.