Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Bluebirds

I've noticed quite a few Eastern Bluebird boxes in the parks and areas I frequent this year.

This species has certainly benefitted from the help in housing. There is always competition with House Wrens, House Sparrows and Tree Swallows, but this pair was in a local park and raised at least one brood successfully this year so far.

Friday, June 24, 2011


In addition to the strategic plantings to encourage some wild neighbors to move in (or at least eat) in my yard, I put up a couple of nest boxes. There was a pretty big House Wren Smack-down (WWF style) right away. The winner started building within days. House Wrens can be jerks, and they are certainly vocal. This pair has actually been pretty good. They are certainly around quite a bit, but actually keep mostly to themselves. If any other birds get near their nest box, they defend it, but there haven't been many altercations.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ducks and More Ducks

Geese and ducks certainly have their young out already. Wood Ducks (first three pics) are pretty entertaining as their youngsters make the first step into the world - from inside a nest box, or as their natural biology evolved, from up in trees.

I have watched Mallards take their chicks directly to dead fish right to the shorelines; they snap up the flies that are invariably there over the carcass. Good thinking!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Eastern Bluebirds

A friend told me about some Eastern bluebirds that her townhouse complex maintained with nesting boxes. Unfortunately, the day we planned to band chicks turned out to be that scorcher that we hadn't seen for a gajillion years. Since safety of the birds is always the primary concern, we opted not to.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quasi Academic, Quasi Published

This is actually pretty cool - I share a by-line with Dr. Pat Redig regarding peregrine falcons. We just finished up the 2009 and 2010 (don't ask) Midwest Peregrine reports. For those of you who know me well, one of the great parts of my job is getting to assist with the ongoing program of getting bands and materials out to the states for peregrine banding season every year, then collecting info and getting it into the database and creating reports. Though the big lifting happened over 20 years ago, it is really humbling and exciting to be a part of this amazing effort.

To view the reports, go to midwestperegrine.org. On the left hand side you can select Annual Reports, then 2010 (or 2009) and you can view or download the pdf. This site is a great way for the public to check in on their favorite bird/state/site and run their own reports. Check it out!

Monday, June 13, 2011

American Crow Youngsters

This past week seems like youngsters of every species are just exploding out of their nests. Can't go anywhere without food begging behavior, more vocalizations, and feeling like there are creatures with feathers EVERYWHERE! Anyone in an urban setting knows that American Crows are almost omnipresent - in yards, around shopping centers, parks, you name it. Four new fledglings showed up in and around my house. If you thought one or two adults were loud, the entire block cannot contain these four. How do you tell they are youngsters? Well, the behavior for one - they are following and calling after adults. And then they sit in trees or in my yard and just calling for food to be brought to them.

Physically, you can tell they are just fledged if you look closely - they have blue eyes (which they will retain for about two months) and reddish-pink skin at the corners of their mouths (and gape) for about three months.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Checking in on Peregrines

More peregrines! This from the same urban nest box. The male is unbanded, as you can see from the first pic.

Wanted to do a comparison with how quickly chicks "grow up." Pic of chick being held was on May 27 - you can see the b/r o4/U band. Look at the next shot - same bird on June 7! Flight and other feathers already poking out!

And my most favorite things to learn - what are they eating!?!?! Can you guess what the bits are that I found?

They are (in order): Wilson's Snipe, Pied-billed Grebe, and Northern Flicker. Quite a nice menu selection!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random But Pretty

I swear that future blogs will have a theme. As previously mentioned I am in the enviable position that I really do have more photos to go through and post (and of course great experiences to go with them) than I have time for. Today I just chose a few to post here. First photo - a pair of Tree Swallows on a wetland railing. Next two - my faves - the Cedar Waxwings.

Next up - an interesting Canada Goose. Check out the white feathers on the forehead (and the water drip off the bill).

And who doesn't have a million American Robin pics - but do you get them where they pose so nicely all the time??