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.

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.