Monday, May 25, 2009

Science: Birds

If you're reading the new posts from the top, start here: Science: Snakes

Our new property is blessed with birds of all kinds: Robins, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Bluebirds, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, Chipping Sparrows, Barn Swallows and Mourning Doves, to name a few.

We are also blessed with evergreen trees. Little ones. Christmas tree sized. In fact, one lovely specimen will become our Christmas tree next winter.

Anyway, Rose Bud loves to nose about wearing her scarf. Last weekend she went nosing about for bird nests. So far she (and Daisy) have found 3 robin nests and two chipping sparrow nests.

We've already watched one robin's nest hatch, grow up and fly away. It was built on an old wooden step-ladder leaning against the chicken coop, so it was super easy for the kids to see into. This one had 3 eggs, only two of which hatched. (the last egg is still in there----ewww!) Another nest was WAAAY up in a hole in our big tree. The third robin nest is in a big pine tree by the driveway.

Last night, one of the baby pine robins flopped himself out of the nest. It's just about ready to fly, so it wasn't any terrible crisis. But the kids were so interested to follow it on it's adventure. It hopped and flapped its way around the house. At one point, they lost it in the flower bed and so gave up. But later, Rose Bud saw it again from her bedroom window and they all watched it hop to the safety of a bush near the original next where the mom finally brought it something to eat.

The Chipping Sparrow nests are so tiny! Their nests are both in very little pine trees. One has four teeny tiny naked birds with just a bit of silly fluff on their heads. The other nest had four tiny eggs.Here she is, chipping madly at us while we photograph her eggs.

The barn swallows have been desperately trying to set up residence in the (drumroll....) barn, but have been foiled repeatedly by Mr. GT. He likes to keep the door shut. I think they're finding a crack to sneak in, but I get his point. They do make a mess.

The orioles had two nests here last year. Once the the foliage has come out, the nests are almost impossible to find unless you know exactly where they are. But in the winter you can see the little sling nests hanging out at the tips of their branches. We think we've found their new nest by watching where they fly in the big tree.

The bluebirds, we hope, are nesting in the bluebird house, although we fear it is actually the Red-Wing Blackbirds. In any case, nest or no, the bluebirds insist on remaining in our yard. Lucky for us.

At this new place, we miss the Indigo buntings and the cardinals, the nuthatches and chickadees. But in their place, we are enjoying the bluebirds and the barn swallows.

Oh yeah, and then there are the vultures. The raccoons seem unable to cross the road and remain alive around here and being out in the open, the turkey vultures make short work of them. It's fun to drive around the curve in the road and come upon two huge vultures picking at the carcass. Mmmmm!

Next up, pollen and another dead thing.

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