Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bluebirds! Season 5. Episode 2.

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Over half the nest boxes at CRP have some kind of nesting going on. The bluebirds, though, seem to be on a pace to lap everyone else.
Eastern Bluebird egg, Box 5
Four eggs already. The tree swallows, meanwhile, have hardly begun. And aren't necessarily making optimal choices.
Tree Swallow nest, Box 15
Full nest in a box full of holes. It's a first year female (brown plumage). Perhaps there's a learning curve.... Meanwhile, the only swallow-sparrow conflict zones are 14 and 16. Tree swallows built over a house sparrow nest in the former; house sparrows over a tree swallow nest in the latter.
American Robin, Charles River Peninsula
In other CRP news: a new robin's nest. Will be watching this one over coming weeks. And I've heard orchard orioles and yellow warblers but not spotted them yet. Waiting anxiously for the migratory explosion this week.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bluebirds! Season 5. Episode 1.

Charles River, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

Bluebirds and tree swallows have been around for a week or two but have just started defending particular boxes. So nest box checking starts now!

Eastern Bluebird couple, Box 5
I think it's fair to say we have evidence of bluebird nesting behavior at box 5.
Eastern Bluebird female, Box 5
When I checked the box earlier in the week it appeared as if they were building on top of a tree swallow nest. We'll see if the tree swallows (or house sparrows) let them keep it. (This has been a contentious box in the past).
Tree Swallow, Box 8
Tree swallows are on all the remaining boxes
Tree Swallows, Box 14
including the house sparrow favorite, box 14 (though the swallows successfully claimed it last year).
Tree Swallows, Box 15
and even "extra hole" box 15, which I had basically written off this year. I wonder if and when they will notice its unsuitability?

Pine Warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
And warbler migration season has officially commenced. Lots of yellow-rumped warblers, ruby-crowned kinglets, and pine warblers singing from the canopy today.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ducks in Trees

Wood duck in tree. Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
I know they're called "wood ducks" but I will never get used to seeing them in trees.
Wood duck in tree. Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
As if they were some sort of perching bird.

Wood duck in tree. Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
Today I couldn't tell if they were scouting for holes or competing for mates, or both.
Wood duck in tree. Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
I discovered a pileated woodpecker on the Chestnut Trail this morning, not far from where I spotted one last week. Hear it drumming below.

If the pileateds are breeding at Ridge Hill there will be nesting cavities for wood ducks.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fox Sparrow Season

Charles River at Charles River Peninsula just after dawn
It's fox sparrow season. If you don't get out in the early morning to hear them sing now you will have to wait a whole year until they pass through again. I had seen a pair foraging a week earlier at the CRP but no song ever came. This morning was different.

I'd stopped to capture some phoebe song (amidst loud ringing song sparrow and robin choruses) and there in the brush, kicking up leaf cover, was a lone fox sparrow singing while it foraged. Not singing loudly or consistently enough for a good solo recording, but a nice addition to the overall songscape.

Further down the path I found what I was hoping for. A male perched in a low tree singing repeat choruses. I initially mistook it for a house finch (I'm used to more "slide whistle" in fox sparrow songs) but after a few concentrated listens its identity was clear. It sang until it chased off a competitor. Of particular interest, two notes at the beginning of each phrase that sound suspiciously tufted titmouse-like.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Audible Glee (Ridge Hill edition)

Eastern Phoebe perching on ice dam wreckage, Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
At Ridge Hill there are reports of evening woodcock flights.

Great Blue Herons, Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
The wetland heronry is back online.

New "clustered" nesting boxes, Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
Tree swallows (unpictured) have already discovered the newly configured nesting boxes.

Pileated Woodpecker near the picnic area at Ridge Hill Reservation, Needham, MA
And the woods resound with the thumping of woodpeckers (and the songs of brown creepers). 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Audible Glee

Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Snow on the meadow still but the patches are shrinking a little every day.
American Robin, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Dozens of robins are taking advantage. Singing sporadically.

Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
When I saw the tree swallows I actually shouted out loud.
Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
And when I saw the bluebirds I shouted even louder. Spring is here. Why does its reappearance seem more miraculous every year?