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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bluebirds! Season 7. Episode 1.

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
First day of spring. "Birds begin nesting," says my Japanese almanac. "Doubt it, this year," I thought.
House Sparrow nest
To my surprise the house sparrows have begun nesting. They didn't even wait for me to disinfect the box (my project today).
Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
The resident bluebird pair, on the other hand, seem content to wait.
Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
They, as usual, have their eye on box 16, under the giant oak (see top image). Box 16 will need a day to air out (disinfectant) but then it will be good to go.
Wood Ducks, Charles River, Needham, MA
In other first-day-of-spring bird news: wood ducks! Plus, hooded mergansers and, spotted for the first time at CRP cruising over the fields, black vultures! I thought they were big crows and then I saw the white wing tips. Black vultures in Massachusetts. That's a scary global warming trend.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 10. Season Finale

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA after July mow.
Suddenly summer is almost over. By next week all the boxes at CRP will be empty of nestlings. Then it will be the clean-up and long wait for next year.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings, Charles River Peninsula, July 9
The second bluebird nest is moving along quickly.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings, Charles River Peninsula, July 15
Today my first legitimate bluebird dive bomb. It was so bluebird--an elegant swoop from an upper tree branch towards my head. I get it, bluebird. It has been a lot of work to keep these chicks alive. 
Tree Swallow fledgling, Box 19
Meanwhile the tree swallows are all fledged or on the verge of fledging. 
Tree Swallows, Box 11
I imagine the parents will be mighty relieved when these hungry mouths can fend for themselves. 
Tree Swallow, Box 19
Some of the tree swallow families can be seen zooming around the peninsula. Some seem to have already moved on to staging areas. 
Downy Woodpecker
See you next year, bluebirds et al. And yes, downy woodpecker, it's safe to explore these boxes now.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Willets of Wellfleet

Willet, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, MA
Mid-June isn't the best time to see birds in Wellfleet, I was told.
Willet, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, MA
By mid-June spring migration is over.
Willet, Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, Ma
And the mid-summer southern migration of shorebirds hasn't yet begun.
Willets, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
So you are left with the local breeders.
Willet, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
Such as towhees, field sparrows, and prairie warblers (!)
Willet, Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
And willets. They may not be beautiful or musical but they certainly liven up a place.
Yellowlegs. Greater? Provincetown breakwater, Provincetown, MA
And what you see (and hear) is what you get.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 9. Empty boxes and refills

Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Last week the bluebirds and chickadees fledged. This week it is the tree swallows' turn.
Box 1. Tree swallow nest with chickadee base.
Leaving empty boxes requiring clean out.
Box 2. New Eastern Bluebird attempt.
Meanwhile, bluebirds have begun round 2 in box 2. Box 11 was snatched by tree swallows before the other bluebird pair could start again.
Box 12. Full of sticks.
In gloomier news, the tree swallow that was so stalwart in protecting its nest in box 12 last episode, finally succumbed to house wren stick mania. And the chickadees finally gave up on their next in box 14 (box 4 chickadees, a tiny clutch of 2, managed to fledge).
Box 13
And unpopular box 13, unused for the second year in a row, may finally be completely covered in multiflora rose this year.