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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.
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.
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.
These are photos of the parent Juncos.
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
Watch Three Herons Grow Up in Eight Minutes – A video compiled from Cornell Lab’s Live Bird Cam of the nest of the Great Blue Herons of Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, NY
“Through cool spring mornings and crashing summer thunderstorms, the Great Blue Herons outside our office windows raised a boisterous trio this year. Thousands watched the youngsters grow up (way up), until they were ready for their first flights in mid-July. The nest is now empty, but we’ve compiled some of the season’s best images so you can look back at the beauty, wonder, and humor of the heron family. Watch the highlights slideshow.”
Since 2009 and possibly earlier, the male has returned every year, but this year’s female appeared to me a new mate. This video slideshow features highlights from the season, following the pair as they court, lay eggs, and successfully raise three chicks.
For more about the herons visit http://allaboutbirds.org/cornellherons
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds is having their annual Funky Nests in Funky Places Contest!
Have you noticed any bird nests in your neighborhood? Peek in a hanging flower basket, a street light, a store sign, your barbecue grill, an old boot, or under a bridge! Birds build nests in the strangest places!
Be creative! Take a photo, create some artwork, shoot video, write a story or a poem, or create a sculpture. Just show a bird’s nest built in some out-of-the-way or out-of-this-world place.
Contest details at http://celebrateurbanbirds.org/community/challenges/funky-nests-2013
We have four birdhouses, also known as nestboxes, in our backyard. Two of them are occupied this spring.
One nest box that has been the home of an Oak Titmouse family in past years is occupied by Chestnut-backed Chickadees this year. The other nestbox appears to provide a home for Wrens. The Chickadees are very active flying in and out of the nest box several times a day. I’ve seen the Wrens occasionally.
This live bird cam of Red-tailed Hawks is located in Ithaca, New York and is hosted by Cornell Lab.
Three fuzzy chicks have hatched. Viewers of the Cornell Hawks cam can tune in to see Big Red and Ezra feeding three bobbly headed, downy-white chicks. The first two hatched early morning on Monday, Earth Day, as thousands of people watched. The third youngster entered the world two days later. Big Red and Ezra have been busily provisioning them with chipmunks, starlings, snakes, and other prey, which they carefully tear into small pieces before giving to the nestlings (watch a video). The first nestling’s official hatch time was 6:06 a.m. on Monday, April 22, and we have contacted the winner in the Guess the Hatch contest. Watch the nestlings live.
April 24, 2013 – The photo above shows Ezra (male Red-tailed hawk) Sheltering Family From the Rain
“We’ve seen the hawks brave all sorts of weather conditions over the last several weeks while sitting on their eggs. We have never seen them stay on the nest together during these events. Yesterday there was a downpour that lasted over 30 minutes and for the first time both parents stayed on the nest together. Ezra stood over Big Red, sheltering their nestlings from the rain.” – Cornell Lab
On Sunday April 14, 2013, at approximately 13:40, the female heron laid her first egg. Great Blue Herons usually lay an egg every two or three days until the clutch is complete. It’s been two days since the first egg was laid. Will she lay another tonight? Tomorrow? Keep watching!
The live camera of a Great Blue Heron nest is hosted each year by Cornell Lab in Ithaca, New York. Check back often to see how many eggs are laid and then watch as the eggs hatch!
Passionate for puffins? Now you can see Maine’s delightful seabirds up close in live high-def action.
Thanks to Audubon and Explore.org, anyone with a computer or smart phone can watch live streaming video of these charismatic birds as they court, preen and strut about on Maine’s remote Seal Island.
Once hunted off the island completely, the puffins are back and thriving after a nearly 40-year-long restoration program pioneered by Audubon.
Puffin Loafing Ledge Cam http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/puffin-loafing-ledge-cam
Puffin Burrow Cam http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/puffin-burrow-cam
See Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s newest live bird cam at The Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho of the American Kestrel. It features two views: one inside the nest box and another from the outside so you can see adults arrive and admire the western skyline. The eggs have hatched and there are five tiny baby birds! http://www.allaboutbirds.org/kestrels
The Great Blue Heron eggs and the Red-tailed Hawk eggs have hatched. At last count there were five tiny heron chicks and three tiny hawk chicks!
View live streaming video of Great Blue Heron nest http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=2433
View live streaming video of Red-tailed Hawk nest http://cornell.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b35ddb671faf4a16c0ce32406&id=6fdf00703d&e=a2decd0bee