Friday, September 1, 2017

Bluebirds! Season Seven. Series Finale.

Haying season. Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
They're mowing at the Charles River Peninsula right now. Summer is over.
Box 7. Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
One last check of the nesting boxes. Box 7 was the last unfledged box last time I made the rounds. What would I find when I opened it up?
Tree swallow nest. Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Successful fledge. Nice thick nest for a tree swallow. You'll remember that it was house sparrows that added the foundation. Wild turkey feathers. I wonder about the place of turkeys in the feather economy.
Box 8. Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Looks like I never clipped the bittersweet growing on Box 8. I'll take care of it when I come back clean the boxes. 

All in all, a productive year for tree swallows. But no bluebirds on my side of the field. Plans for next year are uncertain. 

Kingfisher rattling over the river. Young red-tailed hawk piping above. This is probably the last "Bluebirds!" season I'll report. There are new projects ahead.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 6. Chicks.

Tree swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
 It's hatching time for some, fledging time for others. How I love the young birds, ready to learn how to be birds.
Tree Swallow nestling, Box 5
Or, in some cases, ready to make the transition from lizard to bird.
Tree Swallow parent, Box 3
Or, in some cases, never to hatch at all. The eggs in box 3 have been there for over three weeks. The parents keep peeking in to check. Maybe today will be the day....

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 5. Wins and Losses


Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
June, already. And a series of cold wet days that made me worried about nesting boxes. For good reason--the chicks in box 4 didn't make it. But everything else is fine.
Tree Swallow, Box 7
I was particularly happy to see tree swallows on box 7. That had been a house sparrow nest since the beginning of the season.
House Sparrow nest two weeks ago, Box 7
Every week I removed the eggs. It took a long time for the sparrows to give up.
Tree Swallow nest today, Box 7
It's a late start for tree swallows but there's still hope.
Box 8
I think I might have to bring the clippers with me next week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 4. Holding pattern.

Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Boxes full of eggs (including one stubborn house sparrow nest) but no chicks, yet. Maybe the bluebirds chicks have hatched. I don't know.
Tree Swallow, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
For half the boxes I'm back to being an observer. I'm enjoying watching the couple at box 19. The female is a first-year (lovely brown).

Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
They are full of energy,
Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
but something seems a bit off.
Bobolink, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
This has been a good year so far for grassland birds. Meadowlark and kestrel visited. And bobolink (one female and seven males seen) and savannah sparrows are spending a lot of time in the grass. Fingers crossed!





Friday, April 28, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 3. Sparrow pressure.

Tree swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Here come the house sparrows.
Tree Swallow, deceased
Second murdered tree swallow, killed right in its box.
House Sparrows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
House sparrows are pressuring three different tree swallow nests. Pulled a sparrow egg from box 8.
House Sparrows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Tree swallows are not giving up without a fight. Sparrows on high alert.
Eastern Bluebird (left), Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
In better news, first tree swallow egg, in (so far) unmolested box 9. Bluebirds appear to be nesting in box 18 (not under my care this season). Other spring arrivals include common yellowthroat, yellow warbler, orchard oriole. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Some birds of Italy

Yellow-legged Gull on Caesar head, Rome
I went with my family to Rome and Naples. It was not a birding trip. But...
Villa Borghese Park, Rome
The day we arrived I sat under a tree at Villa Borghese and listened to birds while everyone else was back in the room sleeping.
Pigeon, Fontana del Pantheon, Rome
Prominent birds of Rome: pigeons, gulls, screaming swifts,
Hooded Crow, Palatine Hill, Rome
And, of course, crows.
European Serin, Pompeii
Serin dominated Pompeii, singing on the wing like tiny yellow low-flying skylarks.
European Blackbird (female), Naples Archeological Museum
We had a place in a rather gardeny area of Naples. The dawn chorus (jet lag has its advantages) was amazing. The recording below is an iPhone voice memo version of what I could hear.
Lots of museum bird art, but the image below was my favorite.

I'm pretty sure it's a cartoon little grebe (known locally as "tuffetto"), though goldeneye is plausible. Why a little grebe? I wish I knew.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 2. Nesting begins.

Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Tree swallows have started nesting. Out of the ten boxes I'm monitoring at CRP this year, six already have full nests.
House sparrow nest, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Traditional conflict magnet, box 5, features a robust house sparrow nest. If you look closely at the photo you'll see a dead tree swallow incorporated into the nesting material.
House sparrow eggs
I pulled out five warm eggs. They were sacrificed to the Charles River.

Tree swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Some tree swallow love-making but no eggs yet, which is good because it's been damp and wet recently. Other CRP bird news: yellow-rumped warblers, palm warblers, barn swallows.