Monday, May 23, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 7. Brave birds and egg smashers.

Tree swallow, Box 7, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Breeding continues at Charles River Peninsula and tree swallows are getting bolder and bolder, less quick to fly away when approached (making for nice super close up photos like the one above)
Tree Swallows, Box 5
and moving decisively into house sparrow territory. I finally pulled out the nest in Box 5 after house sparrows retook it earlier in the week. The very next day tree swallows took over and the sparrows have vanished, at least for the moment.
Tree Swallow on nest, Box 1
Three weeks in a row I've been unable to count the eggs in Box 1 because the female has been on the nest and hasn't budged. Today I saw the pair outside the box--this was my chance! But before I could get there the female, seeing me and apparently knowing my patterns, flew into the box and sat on the eggs before I could get there. Note that most birds leave the box when I approach. I've never had one deliberately enter the box when I've come near. Remarkable.
Smashed Tree Swallow egg in Box 12
Though given the recent rash of egg disappearances at CRP, she might have the right idea. Three boxes with eggs last week had zero eggs this week, including the usually unproblematic box 12. The lovely eggs featured in Episode 6 are all gone, except for one smashed into the white feathers lining the nest.
Eastern Bluebird nestlings
The neighboring bluebirds are too busy feeding their partially feathered chicks to bother with this kind of thing and the house wrens are way on the other side of the property. I'm beginning to suspect chipmunks. Indeed...perhaps chipmunks will be the ultimate Bluebirds! villains.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 6. Twenty Boxes.

Boxes 18 and 19, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
Charles River Peninsula now has a full set of twenty nesting boxes. New boxes: 3, 15, 18, 19, 20. Tree swallows immediately nested in box 18. Six eggs within a week.
Box 12
Nest box ownership has stabilized. House sparrows are only at one box (9). Bluebird boxes now have feathered chicks. And most of the tree swallow boxes have eggs.
Black-capped Chickadee, Box 4
To my delight, the chickadees have held on to two boxes, tenaciously outlasting tree swallow competitors.
White feathers at base of box 16
The only intrigue at present: white feathers mysteriously scattered around the base of box 16. Either the result of a careless human who opened the box on a gusty day. OR
House Wren, Box 20
Perhaps the newly arrived house wrens know something about it....
Warbling Vireo nest, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
In other CRP news: first bobolink. But no kestrel for about a week. And I know where you're nesting, warbling vireos....

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bluebirds! Season 6. Episode 5. Chickadee problems.

Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
What a dismal week. I delayed box checking because the weather was just too cold and wet. Meanwhile, migration has been slow. But the two bluebird boxes with eggs continue.
Box 4
Meanwhile, you may remember me discovering a bona fide chickadee nest in a previous post. And jokingly wondering if a tree swallow would build over it. Well, it appears I called it. When I felt for eggs in the box, I felt a couple of hard lumps under matted fur--chickadee eggs unlikely to ever hatch...
Box 14
Meanwhile, on the other side of the property, a house sparrow-turned tree swallow nest now has a topping of fur and moss. I actually saw chickadees exploring this box earlier in the week. I told them they were crazy. But we can wait and see....

Box 9
And last week's scene of contention between bluebirds and tree swallows has attracted the unwelcome attention of house sparrows, driven once and for all, apparently, from box 7. The bluebirds seem to have given up. There is an unfinished tree swallow nest in the box. And a dead tree swallow near box 8. Another one. I'm going to point fingers at the house sparrows this time.
American Kestrel, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA
In other news, our resident kestrel, still without a mate, remains a daily presence at the peninsula.
American Kestrel (left) v. Red-tailed Hawk (right)
While it is usually on the receiving end of mobbing birds, I enjoy watching it dive-bombing larger raptors.
Red-tailed Hawk v. Red-winged Blackbird
Even if it's not the one who eventually drives them off.