As I was walking around my backyard I found this little hummingbird nest on the ground. It must have been dislodged from a tree branch by the wind or by a predator. We have had several crows visit our yard this spring and crows are scavengers. They attack smaller birds in nests and eat their eggs. There were no eggs or egg shells on the ground with the nest.

The predominant hummingbird in our area is the Anna’s Hummingbird so I’m sure this is an Anna’s Hummingbird nest.

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The first photo shows both a male and a female Anna’s Hummingbird. The female bird is the duller colored bird. The second photo is of a male Anna’s Hummingbird showing the brightly colored plumage.

The female hummingbird builds the nest out of plant down and spider webs, sitting in the nest and building the cup rim up around her. Nests take around a week to build and are 1 inch tall by 1.5 inches in diameter. They may be built of cattail, willow, leaves, thistle, or small feathers and bound together by spider webs or insect cocoons. They may decorate the outside with lichens, mosses, or even paint chips.

Hummingbirds have tiny legs and can neither hop nor walk, though they can sort of scoot sideways while perched.

The following are photos of the little nest I found on a white paper towel and a green piece of paper. The inside diameter of this nest is about the size of a quarter. You can see a feather sticking out of the edge of the nest and the lichen on the outside of the nest.

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Juncos built another nest in our boxwood bush by our back door, May 2014. There is no way to tell if these are the same Juncos that built a nest and laid 4 eggs in April. Each time these Juncos laid four speckled eggs, this year and last year. The eggs kind of blend with the nest. This nest is lower in the bush so I hope the babies will be protected from predators.

View of nest with four babies showing feathers on April 6, 2014

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Saturday morning April 7 I went out to look at the babies and the empty nest was on the ground. I felt devasted because some animal must have found the nest during the night or early morning. No sign of baby birds!

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Hungry Junco hatchlings on April 1, 2014 survived the rain storm last night.  More rain predicted for today.

The Junco pair is back again this year! They built a nest and laid four eggs in the same place in the boxwood bush by our back door. I’ve been checking the nest every day. We’ve had rain storms with more rain to come. Today one of the eggs hatched! You can see the open mouth of the little hatchling.

Looks like three of the eggs have hatched now. (later the same day)

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Great Backyard Bird Count 2014

Watching a Carolina Chickadee, Sandy Manter, TN, 2013 GBBC

What is the GBBC?

The 2014 GBBC will take place Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17. Please join us for the 17th annual count!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.

GBBC checklists can be accepted from anywhere in the world!

Everyone is welcome–from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period. They enter these numbers on the GBBC website.

New participants must set up a free GBBC account to submit their checklists or use login information from an existing account for any other Cornell Lab citizen-science project. You’ll only need to do this once to participate in all future GBBC events. Click “Submit Your Bird Checklist” at the top of this page or see How to Participate for more details.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon 

Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them.

Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called “rice birds,” are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead.

Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter.

Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned.

Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders.

Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away.

Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches.

Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch.

Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration.

Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dark-Eyed Juncos inhabit our backyard year round here in northern California. A few weeks ago every time I went out our sliding glass door to the backyard a Junco would fly around and up into a tree chirping and fluttering, chirping and fluttering. Often another Junco would also fly nearby. I was trying to figure out why the Junco was near our back door everyday. I knew that birds often fly around and chirp to attract attention away from a nest or babies but I didn’t see any nests.

Well, guess what? I finally found a little nest in the boxwood bush by our back door. The nest was on the back side of the bush and concealed from sight. There were four little speckled eggs in the nest.

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A few days later the eggs hatched and here is a picture of the baby birds. I had hoped to get a photo of the birds moving around, with their mouths open begging for food, or chirping. However, this is the only photo I got of the newly hatched birds. I didn’t want to disturb the new hatchlings so I waited a couple of days before checking the nest again.

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And guess what? The nest was empty! I couldn’t find any trace of the baby birds or the broken egg shells. I hope the birds were mature enough to fledge the nest and not taken by night predators.

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These are photos of the parent Juncos.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches visit my backyard birdfeeders. They are very easy to identify with a gray-blue back, white face, black or gray cap, and long narrow bill.

Excerpt from new Backyard Guide Series

The word “nuthatch” refers to their habit of wedging a seed in a crevice and then hacking or “hatching” it open by pounding at it with their chisel-like bill. Nuthatches are often referred to as “upside-down birds” because they forage by probing tree trunks with their heads facing downward. During their journeys down the trunk of a tree, they often pause, and then raise their head so that it is parallel to the ground—a unique posture among birds. The best-known family member is the white-breasted nuthatch, a bird of deciduous woods and tree-filled backyards. In woodlands, listen for the nuthatch’s nasal honking calls anytime. Males and females always forage near each other and, in winter, in a mixed flock with chickadees and titmice.

The white-breasted nuthatch eats both insects and seeds, varying its fare with the seasons. Insects make up nearly 100 percent of their summer diet, with seeds being added in fall and winter. Autumn’s extra seeds and nuts are sometimes stashed in tree bark crevices to be eaten later. White-breasted nuthatches will come to feeders for black-oil sunflower and other seeds, peanuts, or suet, but they tend to abandon backyard feeders almost entirely in spring and summer when insects are plentiful. Nuthatches are cavities nesters, but they seem to prefer tree cavities to nest boxes. Leaving old, dead trees standing—where this can be done safely—offers nuthatches potential foraging, “hatching,” and nesting sites.

From Western Birds: Backyard Guide
by Bill Thompson III and the Editors of Bird Watcher’s Digest

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