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Wildlife Diary BLOG 2006

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A note about the architecture of this page.  The thumbnail pictures on the left can be clicked for a full size view. The thumbnails on the right will point to a streaming WMV video which will be selected to share videos captured in 2006. The video sizes are in the 3 to 50 MB range so best suited only for broadband internet connections. For best alignment please select medium text size under view if using IE browser. The first day's events will always  be at the top under "Yet Another Season" and each new day's entries will be beneath with the most recent being at the bottom of the scroll.

 June 5, 2006 ---So Far in 2006, two Successful Robin Clutches, and now a Song Sparrow nest underway with five eggs expected to hatch around June 14-16

Short cut to the most recent entry

Yet Another Season

March 6, 2006

A most unusual winter this year, with January unseasonably Warm and February colder than usual. But all things even themselves out, I guess, as the Crocus are up, right on time,  the Jonquils are blooming and the wildlife menagerie is transitioning from the winter habits to the  stirrings of Spring. The Goldfinches, which came to us early in the Autumn last year, are still with us and have ranged through the Winter in numbers from one to two dozen daily feeders. Their  colors are beginning to change from the subdued yellow to the more brilliant summer plumage.  See the pictures in full size by clicking on the thumbnails in the left panel. The Robin Mobs, having descended on the Holly berries cleaning them out, have broken up and the more familiar singular birds hip hopping on the lawns are now the norm. See the Robin Horde Video by clicking on the picture in the right panel.

A Red Shouldered Hawk hung out in and near our backyard, and the Tail-less Grey Squirrel first spotted early last year is still alive and well and never fails  to bring a chuckle to my heart as he scampers in the trees, on  a power line,  and across the grass, looking for all the world like a Cottontail Rabbit. Don't know if genetic or by accident the he became so, but with Spring about to induce all that Spring induces in the creatures, and if by chance happen to see a few young tail-less squirrels around will conclude was genetic.

 

March 14, 2006

After the rains of the last few days the sun was a welcome sight, even though the temperatures turned cool again. Had a very long look at a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker today as this young male has made a backyard Maple tree his new food bazaar. In the last two days he has spent hours pecking holes all over this tree, then going back time and again to get the sap. I fear the worst for this maple as they have been know to damage a tree. But what the hey, I cannot shoo this guy away by standing guard duty, and besides Nature will have it's way in the end anyway.  These are very striking birds and can easily be mistaken for other woodpeckers.

Today I put out two Hummingbird feeders. I know it is probably early but wanted to see just how early these little guys make the return from the Tropics.

 

 

 

Goldfinches Galore

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

Robin Hordes and Holly Berries

 

The Tail-less Grey Squirrel

 

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the the full size picture.

 

March 27, 2006

Well it really was a bit early to put those Hummingbird feeders. We had several days of below freezing night time temperatures, and so the snow covered Feeders were taken in for a few days. Put them back up yesterday as the weather is a little better and still trying to log the earliest date the birds return here. I think it won't be very long.  I have not seen any nesting activity in the Hollies as of yet but I have seen Robins and Cardinals pairing up. . That Sapsucker continued to come to the sap running Maple tree daily and one day while standing in a single spot on the patio, was able to capture a variety of wildlife as evidenced in the video- One Day in March-

 

March 31, 2006

An important day as these days go. Well actually it was yesterday that the first Flying Squirrel of 2006 came to the feeder. As usual when I begin feeding them in the Spring, I also set up an X10 close by to verify they are here and soon after dusk, the tape revealed a lone Flyer eating the Sunflower Hearts set out for him.  But also as usual within 30 minutes the Flyer was replaced by a heart stealing Raccoon.  It isn't that I have great animosity for Raccoons, on the contrary, I think they are interesting animals to watch, it is just that my main interest is the Flying Squirrels and they never get to dine at the feeder table, for long without the harassing raccoons. Of course this is not new as the same backyard passion play has now played nightly in the Spring and Summer for the last thirteen years since we first discovered the Flyers in 1993. Please visit the Flying Squirrel Story for all the details. Flying Squirrels .

On the second night the Flyer was joined by a companion and the X10 recorded the two chomping away in Sunflower heart Heaven. Video is a little dim since the only light was from the Post Lamp.

With the first Flying Squirrel Sighting the cast of wildlife characters is almost complete with the exception of the return of the Hummingbirds. That will be soon as the temperatures are now bringing out Spring in all it's glory.

 

One Day in March

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

Click

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

April 5, 2006

There is one other sure sign of Spring that I forgot to mention and that is the glorious sound of the mating call of the Spring Peepers, that tiny frog that comes alive in the low areas where Spring rain water accumulates in swampy areas and even in drainage ditch areas in the early Spring . A particular place that I always try to hit just right every Spring and sadly have missed for the last few years yielded the results of perfect timing last Saturday afternoon and there they were and there were we also. With Video cam of course.

 

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

 

 

April 7, 2006

I have been on the lookout for any nest building activity in the hollies  as it was just about this time last year that I embarked on the  2005  Robin and Cardinal nest Blog which resulted in two complete Robin Nest video records of each from nest building to Fledging. Both Robin's Nest were completely successful , but the Cardinal family had a completely different outcome. Have been noticing two Robins especially in the side yard. One of them making frequent trips from the rear to the front with beaks full of  grass and straw. The other one I am assuming was the Male because he did no such labor, instead he declared war against himself or better a mere reflection of himself in the rear window of a neighbors truck , He attacked his likeness over and over again  and I hope he survived his own attack as he will be needed to help care for the nest of hatchlings sure to come.

At first I could not determine the location of  the under construction nest site, assuming it would be in one of the Hollies as usual. So went looking in earnest and decided to watch from a location in the front yard. She flew towards me with grass and mud in beak, but flew upward as if going over the house.  Then I spotted it already firmly attached to the crook of the downspout, high and dry, and safe from any black snake or feline predators, as well as safely out of X10 camera setup range.  Oh well, can and will monitor the spectacle from afar.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2006

The Flying Squirrels continue to show up each evening at their feeder. I made the mistake yesterday of putting the sunflower hearts out while it was still an hour or two until  darkness. A grey squirrel found it and stayed on the feeder long enough to completely devour all the good stuff. When I realized the problem it was about 11 PM and so I went to replenish the hearts, and found one of the little critters waiting for me, or so it seemed. 

Yesterday, I noticed an abundance of Cow Birds at the feeder. I had not seen very many of these birds through the winter, guess they were following the buffalo herds   or something like that. They are here now though, just in time to harass all of the other nesting birds and picking out other bird's nest to remove eggs or chicks from and deposit their own for the other birds to care for. Since I have seen the tactics of the Cow Bird on that Cardinal nest last year, I don't really care for them at all.  The male, however is quite majestic, though with that bronze neck when it glistens in the sunlight. Still just downright bullies in every way. Here a Male Cowbird just has to have the watering hole all to him self.

 

The bird feeders are busy with many species and so also is the area beneath the feeders. Grey Squirrels , Chipmunks, and many scratching birds by day and at night, the Opossum comes to pick up the leavings. Today I was nearby when a Red Bellied Woodpecker came to the feeder  and a Brown Thrasher hobnobbed with a Grey Squirrel and a friendly Chipmunk.

Looks like the Female Robin completed the nest, but I think no eggs have yet been laid.

April 13, 2006

Hmm but now a somewhat unique observation as I watched a Robin, and close enough to the aforementioned well placed nest, to be our Robin of interest,  appearing to remove her breast feathers from the previously determined area of the brood patch. She sat on the Maple limb for perhaps 15 minutes or more in my clear view and made several stabs, at her breast, removing feathers and then fluttering with her wings spread and then repeating the process. I think this was our Nest constructing,  Mother to be, Robin, perhaps preparing her self for the mating process and  the egg sensing function via the bare skin brood patch , for the clutch to come.

Still have not seen the first Hummingbird at the feeders.

 
 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

April 15,2006

What a difference a few days in the Spring make. The blooming trees and Spring Flowers are beginning to reach full glory and our breast feather plucking Robin appears to have  laid her eggs and is now incubating in her high and safe nest. Based on my estimate, I project we will have Robin hatchlings by April 28 and Fledging by May 14. Hmm really going out on a limb on this one. ( so to speak).

Meantime the Flying Squirrels continue to visit each evening, and the bird feeders are busy. A mockingbird has established residency close by and his loud and vast program can be heard many times daily.  Happened across a small critter hole in the back yard near a large Hickory tree and out popped a small but cute little Critter head, looking to explore the wonders that awaits. Was able to catch shots of  this very young Chipmunk close up .

The Tailless Grey Squirrel is still a regular and spent some time yesterday chasing another Grey around the tree , in potential mating fashion. So based on this behavior , I am guessing , our Tailless wonder is a male. What a coupe it would be if soon we had three or four young tailless squirrels all appearing as Cottontail bunnies hopping around the environs, the spitting image of their father. Of course that could not be --or well -- maybe.

Still have not seen the first Hummingbird.

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

  April 17,2006

Well a second Robin's nest is underway and this time in the Holly of ill repute. That is based on past records in this very Holly, a 2004 nest ended with the Black Snake devouring all, and in 2005 , the Cardinal nest ended sadly after a series of bad vibes, including the run- in with the Cowbird and then the neighbors cat and of course two un-hatched eggs from the start.  The camera watched today as the female Robin continued to work the mud and straw into the sculptured work of art which soon perhaps, will be a short-lived home to three or four squawking hatchlings. In a two hour period, she made 8 trips and on one occasion, the male visited the construction site briefly, bringing perhaps an earthworm lunch to the working Mom. Actually this was quite moving to me, or perhaps astounding, to think that these creatures so driven by instinct, yet seem almost  to have a deeper caring relationship toward each other.  Perhaps just the romantic in me and nothing more than instinct again, but still it works. After all, she deserved it as she does all the nest building work.

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

April 22, 2006

The High and Dry Robin nest seems to be progressing normally and I predict the Hatchlings will appear by this time next week. No good news to report on the second nest noted in my April 17 entry, though , as  the nest seemed to be completed a day later, but now the Robin pair has not returned to the newly constructed nest in the Holly. It has rained almost every day since the nest was completed, but the nest remains intact but looks very muddy. I am hoping they will return as this is not unusual, for nesting to take place some time after the nest is completed. Hope this is the case.

Goldfinches have all but deserted the hanging feeders, while the Doves, Cowbirds, Cardinals, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Titmice, White Throated Sparrows, Chickadees, Mockingbird, and Grackles keep the other feeders busy, and of course with the Grey Squirrels and Chipmunks cleaning up beneath.

Today is the much heralded "Thunder over Louisville day" and the weather promises to be great , very much unlike last year's horrible Weather day.  The Blue Angels will be performing as part of the Air Show preceding the main event which happens about 9:30 tonight.

The Flowers are blooming and the grass is growing, the Flying Squirrels appear each evening but the Hummers have not yet appeared.  That will happen any day now.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 23, 2006

What a Difference a Day Makes

Thunder Day was a great success, not only for the Kentucky Derby Festival event, which drew a record crowd of about 800,000 folks to the air show and the magnificent fireworks conclusion, but also for the second Robin nest , the one in the Holly of ill repute. While noticing today that the Robin pair had returned to the nest and believe the second egg was laid, then looking at the tape from yesterday saw the Robin on the nest and believed the first egg was laid on Thunder day. At any rate checked it out today and saw two beautiful blue eggs which probably means the third one will be laid tomorrow. As we know that they only lay one egg a day.

At one point the Mother Robin on the Holly Nest left and two Titmouses came to the nest and appeared to be eating something in the nest. I at first thought they might be trying to eat the new eggs, but believe now they were after ants or other insects in the nest. At any rate when checking later confirmed that two eggs were still there and appeared to be intact

The other  Robin Mother still sits on the high and dry nest and I am looking for hatchlings this week. While taking her video picture today, she flew down very close to me and set out after an earthworm nearby allowing another photo op.

 

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 April 25, 2006

Another case of egg laying gap on the Holly nest. Checked it late Yesterday and still only two eggs. But a check today now reveals three blue eggs, so guess one of them will be a little later hatching than the other two. Incubation does not really start after the first egg, but begins to be a little more serious after two and now is underway in earnest. Nature's way of making the hatch day and subsequent Fledge day as close as possible for all concerned.

Observed also this morning a female Cowbird very near the nest and a moment or two later a Robin parent swooped down and engaged robustly. The Cowbird made a hasty retreat, but noticed then several times through the day, that when the female would leave the nest, the male would come to the nest and stay there until his mate returned and resumed the incubation process. The video shows one of these exchanges.

High and Dry nest Mother Robin still at it and hatching there should only be two or three days .

No Hummingbirds still, although a friend reported seeing the first one a few days ago.

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2002

Trouble in Paradise

First video viewings of the nest in the Holly of ill repute,  indicated all was normal, but when the Mother was off the nest for one of her routine breaks, I checked the nest via extended mirror, and discovered not the four eggs, I was expecting, but only two.  What ever happened to one of the three eggs, I will never know for sure, as there were gaps in tape recording times, due to my need to be away. I reviewed all I had but found nothing that would indicate the cause of the mystery. I suspect one of the Cowbirds was able to get in during one of the rare moments when both Robins were not at or near the nest. The male is spending a lot more time at the nest , never on the nest, since the incident. I believe much  more so than any Robin nest pair that I have observed over the last three or four years.  I think this is due to an abundance of Cowbirds this year, also much more so than in previous years. At any rate the incubation of this nest continues with I think two eggs, but will check it tomorrow.

High and Dry nest Mother Robin still at it and hatching there should be any day now.

Still no Hummingbird sightings at the feeders.

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2006

Hatchling Alert Breaking News---!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well it may not be a California Highway Police pursuit kind of breaking news but it is a news event around here. Actually one day earlier than I predicted for the first hatchling, and by my figuring about 12 days for the first one. The Mother was right in front of me before flying up to deliver what may have been the first meal for chick number one. At any rate a bit awkward for her until all (still don't know how many) have transformed their oblong blue egg into a beak gaping hatchling. I expect  our windmill fighting dad will now get in on the action by tomorrow starting the 12 to 14 day endurance test of bringing in insect delectables to the hungry mouths.

And on the Holly of Ill Repute Nest, the process remains in full swing with the male nearly always at the nest when the female leaves and as soon as she returns in most cases leaves immediately. Never have I seen such a show of nest guarding in all my Robin nest watching. I think losing that single egg to what ever predator, caused this reaction.

The Azaleas are still blooming but will be fading soon  but have been beautiful, and the world around here seems lush and green, with this having been a wonderful Spring to this point.

And once again no Hummers.

 

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

April 28, 2006

The High and Dry Nest

As predicted yesterday, feeding has now begun in earnest, with the proud parents of at least two and maybe three, shuffling food in as fast as they can find it. Actually, even though the eggs and hatchlings cannot be seen from the ground, the body English of the feeding pair suggest to me that the second egg has hatched and perhaps there is still one egg not yet hatched. At any rate one of the parents can be seen in the video for today, gulping down a part of a egg shell. Notice how in some instances, they appear to almost bump into each other as the food is brought in. Notice also that even though plenty of earthworms are available, the food seems to be smaller insects for the one and two day old chicks.

The Nest in the Holly of Ill Repute seems to be normal with the incubation process and guard duty chores continuing as in the last two days. Expect hatching to begin on this nest by May 7 or 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2006

Hummer Alert-They're  Back---!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well now Nature related things are coming together pretty well so far in 2006. Early Spring Flowers have bloomed, the Trees are fully foliaged, Two Robin Nest under way , one with hatchlings, the other about 8 days away, and now the Hummingbirds have returned. Saw the first one at one of the feeders this morning, Not sure if a passer through or a permanent summer resident, but doesn't matter, where there is one, there will be others. Please visit our Hummingbird Blog  for more multimedia on the Ruby Throated Hummers.

The Team work continues on the nest in the Holly of Ill Repute and on one occasion, the Male seems to be alarmed when the Female has been off the nest for an extended period. Here in the video for today, he appears to escort her back to resume her rainy day egg covering duties.

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

April 30, 2006

The last day of April and a rainy cold one at that. The Incubation continues on the Holly of Ill Repute, nest and the Male and Female are still working with precision teamwork to get these two chicks into the world.

Meantime on the High and Dry Nest, the hatchlings are spotted for the first time and there appears to be two only at this time but the feeding continues, now with full size earthworms.

Hmm, Haven't seen the No Tail squirrel for a few days. I hope all is well here, perhaps occupied with a litter of Tailless look-alikes.

That Hummer must have been a tourist on it's way north. Have not seen another, just yet.

 

 

May1, 2006

Time to take stock on our two current Robin Nest .

The High and Dry Nest as I refer to it appears to have two hatchlings although from the available view about 30 ft to ground level, it is difficult to be sure to this point. As they grow a bit, if there are more, then it will be known by tomorrow for sure. As I see it the hatchlings are 4or 5 days old which would point to a Wednesday eye opening. I doubt there is much for them to worry about since it is all about Location , Location , Location, and they have built a winner. No Snakes, No Cats, or other varmints can get to them and the only danger to the hatchlings would be from other birds but as they grow this is becoming more and more unlikely. Today the Robin pair was busy bringing in the now full size earth worms and posed a bit for me and a few pictures can be seen in the left margin,

The nest in what I refer to as the Holly of Ill Repute is proceeding normally with two eggs which I expect to hatch on or about May 7. The outlook for this family is much more in jeopardy, as once again, it is in almost the exact location of the now notorious, 2004 Black Snake Incident and the 2005 Cowbird and Neighbor Cat incidents. I am hoping this year will break the string of bad fortune, but I am a bit  doubtful and somewhat anxious.

 

 
 

 

 

May 3, 2006

On the High and Dry Nest the eyes should be open on one of two hatchlings since this is the sixth day. Probably the other one will experience sight,  tomorrow, for the first time. Pictures from today may not show that conclusively but appear to me to support my theory. They sure grow up fast, and by this time next week will probably have fledged or be very close to it.

Hope when they do they can fly well enough to avoid the ground as you never know what is lurking nearby --- LIKE A NEIGHBOR'S CAT. As shown in the picture, this brazen feline was ready to attack a Chipmunk when my picture snapping rousted it into yet another neighbor's yard. My question is -- don't they get enough chipmunks and birds in their own yard. Cats and folks who let them run wild just mystify me.

Getting close to hatch time on the Nest in the Holly of Ill Repute. Will have some close up video of that when the activity starts, I think in about four days.

Meanwhile the other wildlife characters are doing their thing, and caught this shot of a Nuthatch just an instant before he departed the feeder.

 

 
 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

 

 

 

 

May 4,2006

The Robin pair in the Holly of Ill Repute, continue their protective behavior of the two remaining eggs. It seems to me that this pair are more intent in this , than just about any nest I have observed. I continue to think that it may have been triggered by the loss of that one egg, which remains a mystery to me because a fresh tape was not rolling when the loss occurred. At any rate, I suspect the Robin pair knows and that is why they won't let the nest go unguarded for any length of time.  The first hatch could be only three days away now and in today's video, the female can be seen turning the eggs before taking a break. Note that in seconds of her leaving , the Male returns to the nest and almost seems to be checking and rechecking the number of eggs  in the nest. While the video is shortened , the male stayed at the nest for about 15 minutes before the female returned. When she did return, it almost seems as if they gave an affectionate buss as they passed . This changing of the guard occurred every time the female took a break and that seemed to average about 3 times every 2 hours.

And on the High and Dry Nest, the two chicks now both have opened their eyes as we have passed the sixth and seventh day. The feeding continues and their are plenty of worms to keep them growing . This nest story will be completed with fledging happening by this time next week. When I am taking pictures of the nest from below, the parent robins are actually finding worms within a few feet of me. The pictures for today show a close by Robin finding a worm and on the nest the two hatchlings, can be seen clearly with eyes open.

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

May 5, 2006

SHAZAM Surprise - Surprise- Surprise

Quite a surprise today when trying to log what is going on in the High and Dry nest, made a pleasant discovery. In all the camera shots, I have taken to date, I have seen only two Hatchlings, but looking at the few pictures I snapped today, found that there are at least  three in the nest and all eyes open, which means that all three have passed their sixth day. I am still predicting that they all will fledge no later than next Thursday, May 11.

All appears still to be well on the Nest in the Holly of Ill Repute, and hatching by Sunday, May 7 is my prediction.

Tomorrow is Kentucky Derby Day and the day that most believe it is safe to plant annual flowers to insure no frost loss,  and we are no exception, so as the early Spring flowers fade away, tis time for the summer blossoms to take center stage.

Looks to be a bumper crop of Grey Squirrels, as the young and frisky are beginning to descend on the feeding grounds. Caught this pensive either pregnant or perhaps already nursing a litter , female , probably returning to her nest somewhere in the upper reaches of the tall Oaks.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2006

Barbaro Betters cheer and Deuces are wild at Ill Repute

The 132nd  Kentucky Derby is now in the history books.  What a day yesterday  for the event and the  near record crowd at Churchill Downs. Congratulations to the owners, Miracle man trainer, and the rider who brought him home. The weather was perfect and NBC's coverage put our city in the world wide spotlight and it couldn't have been YUMier.  If some of the Blimp overhead shots could have widened out about 14 miles or so as the Robin flies, from Churchill Downs,  they just might have caught the Ill Repute Holly Nest  on hatching eve. While no gala was in full sway, the miracle was about to happen.

Just as I  predicted ,and this time got it right, May 7  is the hatch day for the two chicks,  which I will now refer to as Deuces Wild.

Hatching did occur this morning and our Robin parents are slowly getting into a new routine. I say slowly because , it is cool this morning, and it seems the primary activity is keeping those chicks warm, feeding has begun but it is in no way hectic as it will become in the next day or two. A rare moment for me as I noted shortly after the hatch , the male who was at the nest alone having brought in a small amount of food, was intent on getting egg shell pieces cleaned from the nest, and then the sounds of Blue Jays close by sent him instantly to  cover the chicks in the nest. A rare sight to see the Male in the nest, and he remained there covering the chicks for about 10 more minutes even after the noisy Jays had flown away.

In the Afternoon, the feeding activity increased dramatically as the temperatures warmed, and it is amazing how much the chicks appear to have grown , just from morning till afternoon.

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

May 8, 2006

The number of hatchlings in the High and Dry Nest, is no longer a mystery, unless of course there is yet another hidden and out of sight. The first photos on the left shows three mouths agape, and worms being stuffed in them. These chicks are all about to leave the nest as fledging should occur no later than Thursday the 11th, by my reckoning

Click on the thumbnails on the left for a full size photo.

 

Heads or Tail is what I call the third photo as two hatchling heads can be see and the third tail section is visible and in the fourth photo for today two of the soon to be fledglings seem to be contemplating the world that awaits them or perhaps making trajectory calculations for their first flights. 

Yesterday while planting some 100 Impatiens and in almost every excavation  loosing two or three squiggly earth worms upon the world, I soon gained a companion as I made my way across the planting area. The Robin was coming along behind me and scooping up the morsels, and many time being within 5 or 6 feet of my aching bod. She would leave for a few moments, and then return to clean up after me. I believe it was our High and Dry Mom, but could also have been our Nest in Holly of Ill Repute Mother.

Still no more sightings of Ruby Throated's and also still have not seen Notail for several days.

 

 
  May 9, 2006

Today the Hatchlings (Deuces Wild) in the Holly of Ill Repute, are two days old. The Male has been the feeder so far and the female has primarily kept the chicks warm, and does hygienic house cleaning chores. Probably tomorrow, she will begin to share more in the feeding program  as these chicks will demand more and more grub. (food sense not the larva sense. Although they most likely would not turn that down either, but no doubt prefer the earthworm diet).  So far -- So Good  - As we are hoping to beat the curse of this holly location.  Today's video shows one of the many similar feeding events at the nest.

 

 

May 10, 2006

Well the High and Dry nest of three fledged yesterday and I missed the event. Today a stormy and rainy day and when I checked , the nest was empty. Actually since hatch day was April 27 that would be about right as it would make it 12 or 13 days in the nest. I did not spot them around today, but usually they will be high on a limp perch and dear old dad will be bringing the worms for a while just like when they were on the nest. By tomorrow or the next day, they may be spotted hopping along behind getting their education and then within two weeks it is over, they are on their own.

Meanwhile Deuces Wild are becoming more demanding on this their third day. The rain made no difference except the worms were easier to find and the chicks looked a bit bedraggled. The video today shows one of the many many feeding events.

 

 

 

  May 11, 2006

Whether Rain, sleet, hail or snow -----------

Today was an off and on cool, stormy day and the parents of Deuces Wild displayed once again the amazing resource these birds have when it comes to raising their young. The pattern of feeding is the same as yesterday with the male doing his role as hunter gatherer very well. He does pretty much all of the feeding, and the female remains on the nest keeping her chicks warm and dry. The Video selection for today shows one of these feeding runs at the height of a passing hail storm. His routine normally is to arrive with the worms, the female will exit the nest, and he will deliver the goods to the gaping beaks, then both will do house cleaning duties. During a hail storm this routine changes as she must protect the 4 day old chicks from the pea size hail. She will not uncover the chicks, so he finds a way to deliver the worms to the chicks, actually under her wing. Later when the storm ends he retunes with a more normal feeding.

Observed the second Ruby Throated hummer, this morning.

 

 

 

May 12, 2006

Still very cool and rainy today but the feeding schedule shifted into a higher gear, near frenzy. Deuces Wild have grown amazingly since yesterday and the obvious metabolism characteristics that turn these earthworms into robins that seem to grow before your very eyes, are astounding.  So far the curse of this holly bush has not wrought yet an evil deed, and tomorrow the sixth day, the little ones should see their surroundings for the first time. Today's video shows two or three feeding events and demonstrates just how much these hatchlings have grown.

Looks like the Hummers are back for the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 14, 2006

Deuces Wild  Eye Opener delayed till Mother's Day

Yesterday was the sixth day and the day for the hatchlings to open their eyes. It appears that the camera eye caught them open for the first time only this morning and I am guessing that the event must have happened during the dark hours between the sixth and seventh day as they were not open on any of the video yesterday. At any rate the eye opening now confirmed on this  the seventh day which is also another milestone for this duo. It  marks the midpoint of their stay in the nest if all goes well. Actually a bit beyond if they follow the High and Dry trio's example of about 13 days. Our balmy Spring has now turned to wet and unseasonably cool weather persisting for the last week, and now expecting to continue well into next week. Because of this and the continued need for the female to spend more time  brooding the chicks, and less time helping her mate bring in the food, I will make here and now the prediction of a delayed Fledge and occurring on May 21.

The beat does indeed go on however with the rest of the wildlife as the High and Dry fledglings can now be seen more and more attempting to get their own worms or waiting to be fed on the ground by their instructor Dad.

It seems the whole countryside is alive with thousands of High and Dry Fledgling look-alikes, nearly everywhere you look. This must be a bumper crop season for all the birds and critters, as their is also an explosion of young and full of vinegar gray squirrels, who yet  have to learn they cannot beat the squirrel baffles on the feeder poles. It always takes a little while for the young and uninitiated.

The Hummers are really back now and can now be seen at the feeders almost at will.

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

   

 

May 16, 2006

Today Deuces Wild, the Two hatchings in the nest of the Holly of Ill Repute, are 10 days old. From the looks of the birds and their activity in the nest, I am probably going to miss my May 21 Fledge date prediction. I now think it will be sooner, maybe even the 19th. They are becoming quite active in the nest and have grown considerably in the last two days. If all goes well, and they fledge without incident, the curse of this Holly tree spell may be broken. So far no snakes , cowbirds or cats have threatened this Robin raising undertaking. Today's Videos will illustrate their size and enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2006

The main event draws closer and within the next few days, really any time now, we will see a  Deuce debut into the big world. Lots of activity at the nest and the growth of  Deuces Wild is causing both parents to bring in the nourishment on a stepped up schedule. Today is the 12th day for them and I believe tomorrow or Saturday for sure will see them take flight. I am especially hopeful that we will break the two year string of calamities in this Holly tree location. At any rate, I will be trying to keep the tape rolling and catch the fledging process once again.  Today's video shows a little wider scope of the activity.

Meanwhile the other participants in our wildlife diary of 2006, are making their own news. Not to be forgotten are the Flying Squirrels and various other resident species who either confound or aggravate, depending on your personal persuasion. Like last night when I dallied with these web pages until well past my normal Flying Squirrel Feeding time, and was well after 9:00 PM, when finally making my appearance at the feeder with a scoop of Sunflower Hearts. There waiting for me was not only a Flyer or two but also this masked bandit with intent to steal. I snapped a couple of pictures for evidence if ever perchance required.

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2006

Morning

Well, looks like my original prediction on fledge day for Deuces Wild may be accurate even if I wavered a few days later. I was sure they would leave yesterday or even the day before. This is the 15th day of their existence and the two are a definite nest full and as I watch them on the monitor at this moment are standing on the rim of the nest.

Afternoon

Well that was then and this is now. Fledging time and another duo of excited young Robins have just left the latest Robin factory, this time in the Holly of Ill Repute, once acclaimed, but now redeemed, and into the big Robin world of worms and berries. They will now take their place along with the earlier cousins of the high and dry nest, to help  keep the spectacle alive for all the human young, some  near fledging and some still in the nest, to wonder at and learn from in the generations to come.

The last day in the nest was a picture perfect day to leap into the big world. The parents had been pushing for this as they had really cut back on the feeding, perhaps to help make the chicks a bit dissatisfied  with the status quo, or perhaps now that almost adult growth had been achieved, the metabolism no longer required such a quantity. At any rate, there had been much picking, pruning, and wing flapping going on for the last two days in the now crowded nest and today the fledglings each followed closely on the wings of a departing parent, albeit about 90 minutes apart.

With the successful fledging of this nest the Holly tree has now be absolved of the two year curse and hopefully will retain that absolution status into perpetuity. I can claim that my first prediction for fledging on this date was accurate after all.

The Videos for today as we close out this nesting episode of our 2006 diary. The first brave fledgling leaves the nest accompanied with a little Frederic Chopin. The Classics and wildlife just seem to go together. To me anyway. The Second fledgling stays for another hour plus in and on the nest and in this case also follows a parent out of the nest, with two cameras recording the event. The Third Video is just for fun, but did indeed happen just before the second fledgling took flight.

 

 

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

May 28, 2006

Well all our nests are empty and it looks like the whole world is awash in Robin Fledglings and other species too. It has been a good Spring for our nests this year with two out of two successful conclusions. And now as Summer nears we can turn our attention to the other players in our back yard  wildlife theatre and laboratory.

Of course the Hummers are always fun to watch and now they are keeping the feeders busier. It seems as if every day brings more and more activity and if like last year, by August they will be as thick as Grackles and all will think the oasis of sugar water is their own private territory, and the buzz attacks will begin.  Hummer Video for today -click on the picture on the right

The Goldfinches seem to have deserted us and the nijer feeders, which almost required daily refills from Autumn last year through mid March, now go virtually untouched. It will be interesting to see if and when they return. But not to worry, plenty of other birds, some more welcome by me than others. Cowbirds and Grackles top my list of most unwelcome. They come in numbers, and while there prevent most other birds from getting to the seed. I have discovered the pecking order though as I have watched the feeder games. Grackles will trump most all the other birds, even the Doves , comparable in size will always yield to the White eyed bullies. Blue Jays will sometimes gain a foothold but normally will yield also to the big G's.  The Titmouse's and the Chickadees will flit in and out between big bird confrontations  But there is one bird that will not back down and indeed the Grackles will when it is at the feeder. It is of course the frequent flyer and visitor , the Red Bellied Woodpecker. When he fly's in the Grackles depart. YEA

 

One thing the Grackles do accomplish is providing the ground dwellers with ample seed. The Grackles like to toss the seed around and this is good for a number of the birds who are banished there, by the Grackles in the first place. Birds below the feeder are joined by the Grey Squirrels and Chipmunks and also one fairly curious little Rodent- the Vole ( Meadow Mouse). The area beneath the feeders is honeycombed with holes and runs and could well have been the inspiration for the movie Tremors. Well I do tend to exaggerate occasionally, however, I am fearful that the whole array of bird feeders will disappear into the Vole caverns beneath.   NOT

 

 

 

Click on these pictures for the Video

  June 2, 2006

Another Find.

 

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Yesterday , June 1, while attending to some gardening tasks, I noticed what appeared to be some loose straw, or dried grass across the top of a thorny Pyracantha shrub near the front walk. Since it was just about forehead high, I could only see the loose straw, and so I reached over to pull it away, and to my surprise , it was indeed a completed nest with the nest fairly deep into the thorns. Since I had pulled it almost out before I noticed it was indeed a nest , and then discovered a single egg , white with brown spots, I assumed I had done major damage to the bird family to be. I gently tried to put it back into the shrub as near to where it had been as possible.  I really assumed it most likely a disaster in the making.

Kept a frequent watch the remainder of the afternoon and evening of the nest and saw no activity what so ever. During the night and most of the morning it rained and rained and rained and the single egg in that nest was simply wide open to it. In early afternoon I noticed from my upstairs office window what appeared to be a bird altercation of some kind occurring on the roof in the general vicinity of the aforementioned shrub. The birds appeared to be of the Sparrow family, but could not be sure and especially not of both participants. I investigated from a window downstairs with a view of the nest and to my surprise saw a bird, brown in color. covering the nest. The bird stayed only a short time and flew out of the nest.

And so knowing the general , egg a day , rule, I was hoping for a reprieve and a continuation of what was underway before my intrusion. My arm length stretch with the mirror, confirmed my hope, as now could be seen two eggs, white with brown spots.

Naturally the shrub and location lends it self to another X10 placement and so it has been done. What ever happens from this point, hopefully can be documented , and of this I can be sure, this is no Robin's nest. Not yet willing to state with certainty what the little bird is, but most likely the abundant House Sparrow. If so, I expect maybe up to five or six eggs, and that means several more days before incubation would begin. We shall see

 

 
 

June 4, 2006

Well so much for the one egg a day theory. This little bird , as yet unidentified by me has laid five eggs in four days and is now incubating them most of the time.  I say most of the time because yesterday after staying on the eggs almost constantly except for several trips away for very small amounts of time, then left about 5:30 PM and did not return all through the evening. And today the behavior is about the same as she returned to the nest midmorning, and I believe laid the fifth egg, and has been incubating on the nest since. Don't yet know what this evening will bring--- Will she stay or will she go?

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In the Evening and even with five eggs in the nest, the female left about 4 PM and returned only for about 20 minutes or so around 9PM. Not sure, but I would not be surprised to find the sixth egg in the nest tomorrow. At any rate, I still have not identified the bird for sure although , I am leaning now toward the Song Sparrow. Click on the picture in the right margin for the video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 5, 2006

The Mother Song Sparrow appears now to be in full incubation mode. My prediction of the sixth egg fell short of accuracy. Looks like five is it for this clutch. No long absences today for this little female as she is on the nest even as the darkness envelopes her. A Larger picture of the Song Sparrow eggs can be viewed. Just click on the thumbnail in the left margin.

 

Also found a couple of other wildlife subjects.  While rapid fire snapping the two doves, found that one of the doves gave me a wink. Check out the Dove Gif also in the left margin.

 

 
 

June 7, 2006

Rain Storms moving through and our minute female, Song Sparrow stays through  all that Mother Nature can deliver, right out there in the open with nothing between the elements and her thought to be precious cargo. Why Thought to be?  Well after a little research on the Cowbird phenomenon, I have discovered that Cowbird eggs look very much like Song Sparrow eggs only larger. This could explain the five eggs in four day scenario mentioned earlier. Perhaps she did not lay all of the eggs in the nest. Not only do the eggs look similar, but I have also discovered , that Song Sparrows are a favorite target for the parasitic Cowbird practice of farming their offspring out for others to raise. This may be the case and if so should have a video record of it. Stay tuned.  

 

 
 

 

 

 

June 11, 2006

Our female Song Sparrow, has spent most of her time on the eggs, turning them frequently and only taking few breaks away from her ingrained duties. I have not seen or heard as yet any contact with a mate, but hopefully he will be around when the hatching begins, which I am expecting to be on June 14 or 15. 

She sat on that nest through another major downpour last night with probably almost 2 inches of rain and spectacular lightning displays all around More rain today but at last light tonight she is still intact and the incubation clock counts down another day.

 

On Friday I found a spider web between to boxwoods that was a true work of art, and the artist is a very colorful specimen which certainly knows sophisticated construction techniques. Not sure of the Identity of this beautiful creature and am not normally a spider enthusiast, but this one fascinated me. Click on the thumbnail pictures in the left margin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2006

Four more days have elapsed and now it is becoming apparent, I have missed my prediction on hatch day. I have been closely monitoring her activities via video tape recording and changing the tape every two hours rotating through about 6 VCR tapes every day. Hopefully using this method, I won't miss any action occurring in or on the nest. I am also hopeful that the eggs are all her own and not the dreaded Cowbird encroachers. This little female Song Sparrow, like all I suppose, has been dedicated, hardworking, diligent, and faithful to the cause. She has covered the eggs through heat, cold and very stormy weather. Seemingly all by herself and exposed wide open to the elements as well as predators of all kinds. It would somehow seem an injustice to her efforts if she ended up rearing some number of Cowbirds and not Song Sparrows.  So far she is a text book performer, complete with nest location and description. Hopefully this will continue including the part where her mate shows up to help with the feeding duties. As far as I can tell though, no sight of him. So tomorrow may be the day for hatching, at least I hope so. She is not always on the nest and I managed to catch a few photos of her, I think, on one of the short excursions away from the nest. Click on the thumbnails in the left margin for the full size picture.

 

 

June 16, 2006

HATCH DAY

First hatching occurred about midday. The Missing mate is missing no more as the male and female combine to start the feeding process as the first chick is taking in food. Not sure but appears to be two hatched or in the process. And now we will be soon able to determine if they are all Song Sparrows or otherwise.

Video - Click on the picture in the right pane.  Stills are in the left margin. Just click on them for the full size.

More Video from the nest to follow

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2006

Still only one hatchling as of a stormy darkness this evening. Not sure what goes here, but still hopeful as the female still stays on the nest most of the time with the male bringing in food for her, then she transferring some of it to the lone hatchling. The Male and Female look identical, and as far as the hatchling goes, cannot yet determine if Sparrow or Cowbird.

June 18, 2006

This is one of those ever so often years  when Father's day happens to also fall on my Wife's birthday. So happy Birthday Honey, and Happy Fathers day to all the other Fathers in the human world and so also to our Song Sparrow dad. In the Video for today, Dad can be seen tending to the one and only hatchling still even through this afternoon, with no sibling hatching taking place. Not sure what to think at this point. Is it normal, or will only one egg out of five hatch, and then what will that hatchling be. Still to be determined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 20, 2006

MAMA SONG SPARROW, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBIRDS

Looks like one is all there will be. Actually one out of five is not ideal especially if that one is not your own. Four days old today and this is a big toddler. The four un-hatched eggs lie all but hidden from view by this single rapidly growing Hatchling. Not sure what went wrong with the other four but it is truly beginning to look to me  as there will be only a surrogate offspring. Not sure if I just am a bit negative here, but the color on the little one seems to be darker than the parents. Still too early to be conclusive, but leaning more towards that conclusion with each passing day. Food runs are being stepped up by both the parents (?)  but the female sparrow, still spends much time on the nest. Not sure if she is shielding it from the sun or still trying to incubate the other eggs, but the heat and humidity was horrific today following a 36 hour period of substantial thunder storms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 22, 2006

 

It looks like some major decisions have been made by the Song Sparrow pair over the last two days. First it looks like all incubation activities on the remaining eggs have ceased and I am not sure that both Sparrows are tending to this Bird X hatchling. I have not seen both at the nest since my last entry on June 20. They have no doubt finally realized that the other eggs are not going to hatch and perhaps the female has even gone to start another nest. With the bird six days old today the eyes appear to be open but there is no feeding frenzy as the feeding trips are probably on the four to six times an hour average frequency.

 

June 25, 2006

Nine days and still the measured feeding goes on. Since the Male and Female Song Sparrow have no major distinctive differences in appearance, the only way I could confirm this is a two parent  operation, would be to see them at the nest at the same time. This has not happened for the last five days so my conclusion is that only one is doing the job. There is no brooding of this chick and the chick is left alone in the darkness, so my deduction is that the male parent is feeding this chick and may or may not be somehow aware that it perhaps is not of his doing. The hatchling itself, rests and sleeps most of the time when not being fed and otherwise attended to. I still believe it is a plant, but have not completely given up hope that this might be a Song Sparrow duckling. At any rate this perhaps surrogate Dad, could be a role model for the real thing, IE human kind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for full size

 

June 28, 2006

All that ends is not  Necessarily Well

Guess it is how you look at it. Perhaps this ending is OK if you are not a Cowbird fan. But that is rather cold I suppose. Still I really half expected it to end this way as my experience with single hatchlings seem to end up with no fledglings. In this case the feeding parent Sparrow, suspect only the male, remained true to the task right up to the end bringing in food and trying to coax the Cowbird hatchling to take it. It became evident over the last few days , however, that the young bird was growing continually weaker. Last evening, the struggling bird who had not been arousable, by the feeding parent simply breathed the last breath and became completely still. This happened just before dark and later this afternoon, I removed the nest with the expired hatchlings and four unhatched eggs( origin unknown) to a dense foliated area in the back yard, relying on nature to do the disposal work. Not the way I had hoped the episode would work out but at least it is one less Cowbird participant in the nest invading practice, to do it's dirty work. So I learned a little more for the experience and proved first hand the well documented traits of the Cowbirds, and the Song Sparrow targets.

In final video a Song Sparrow makes one last frantic attempt to feed the dying Cowbird hatchling. This one is about three minutes long, so I reduced the size to 320 and still it is 10meg. There is something very moving about this effort to me, as the Song Sparrow did not want to give up. This was the first time the Cowbird was unable to rise for the food and the bewildered Sparrow did it's best to finish the mission. The chick died shortly after this.

Final Song Sparrow note . On June 29th I checked the Sparrow nest in the back yard where I placed it for nature's disposal service. Don't know what got it , but it was clean, no dead Cowbird and no unhatched eggs. All I can say is something had to be mighty hungry. Suspect a Raccoon though as tonight I spotted  a Mother and four Cubs on the Flying Squirrel Feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the Pictures in this column for the videos.

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for full size

 

 

July 24, 20006

Summertime Summertime

The rites of Spring have given way to the Summer of 06 and in deference to Camelot, July and August can indeed be too hot. Not to complain however as reports from New York and St. Louis of long power outages and the misery of war and hatred throughout our planet, put mild discomforts in perspective. Meanwhile the parallel universe of wildlife continues and now enters the late summer phase. Most nest activity around these environs has tapered off but the noisy results of new aviary additions to our world are everywhere. Young Blue jays attack the seed cakes with a vengeance and the Grackle - Blue Jay wars continue. The Goldfinches absent since May are beginning to return to the Nijer feeders and at last the Ruby Throated Hummers are frequenting the feeders in increasing numbers. No sign of the No Tail Squirrel and while maybe just migrated else where, fear the worst. The Raccoon family of five has torn down the Flying Squirrel feeder now on two occasions and for now I have thrown in the towel and ceased attempting the nightly flying squirrel feeding.

The Summer Flowers are in full bloom and the Hickory mast ripening appears to be just starting as the driveway now is sometimes littered from the overhang droppings. Later it will be quite messy as the squirrels begin to have their way with this squirrel delicacy  For now the small green nuts on the drive way offer me a boyish entertainment opportunity as on my daily journeys to retrieve the mail and morning paper, I play target practice with the storm sewer grate across the street, by attempting to roll the missiles with a short kick down the driveway into and across the street and every once in a while I actually roll one into the orifice.

 

 

 

Click on the Pictures in this column for the videos.

 

 

 

August 3, 2006

The Long Hot Hazy Days of Summer are here and the whole Nation is baked. The Sugar water holds an attraction not only for the Hummingbirds, but also for the Wasps and Bees. The Video for today shows a little of this action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 10, 2006

A welcome break in the oppressive heat wave that has been griping the country for the last several days, with good refreshing rain storms and showers, have already begun to bring the color back to the lawns. As is the custom in August and September the Hummers at the feeders become more aggressive and abundant.  This will continue most likely through September and then taper off as they will begin to head south once again. We will still see them into October as the Northern returnees will stop over briefly to rejuvenate as  they continue their long journey to the tropics.

The Goldfinches and House finches are once again hitting the Nijer feeders with a higher frequency seen since May. The Gray squirrels are abundant and found one on a -thought to be safe- bird feeder. Not sure how he made it up there but left in a hurry as soon as I came into view.

Summer bugs provide the music that sends you fondly back to Youthful Summers long gone but not forgotten.  I Believed this was one of the music makers and believed it to be the Annual Cicada. I was wrong however as I have subsequently identified it as a Robber Fly. This guy preys on other insects.

 

 

October 14, 2006

And now as the leaves are falling , the temperature too, the hummers have once again left us and all the feeders have been removed. The squirrels and chipmunks are busy doing their thing scampering about gathering and storing acorns and what few hickory nuts they can find, as this has not been a good mast year for the hickories. The Finches are plentiful at the feeders and Cardinals, and woodpeckers too.. The Holly Berries are turning red and look to be plentiful again which will bode well for the February Robin onslaught. Saw a couple of Robins just this week foraging about on the ground but have really not seen them much since the nesting season ended.

 The insects are making their last appearances as their days in the sun are numbered but whose pictures are just in time for Halloween.

 

 
 

October 31, 2006

Live is full of little surprises and the same is true of the backyard wildlife. How fitting it is for the new discovery to be made on Halloween as in our case it is both a trick and a treat. It seems the acorn mast is not as heavy as in years past, and then there is always it seems a new development, continually encroaching on  the dwindling green space in our county, which is not unlike the phenomenon across our County. At any rate , we have always seen White Tail Deer in and around the country side, but after 25 years in our home, have never until this day seen them in our yard. But tonight we were frequented by up to a dozen feeding on the acorns which were still plentiful in our yards.

 I have been trying out different kind of Apples to determine which is my favorite, and some I have tried have not been to my liking.  For the remainder of my purchases of the un-favored types, I have been splitting them in quarters and placing them under the bird feeders on the ground, and in every case by morning the apples have all disappeared. I have only suspected what was actually getting them and so I set about to see what was going on. Setting up the X10 remote cameras , I placed three Rome apples on the swing between two oaks and set the recorder to run all night. One of the attached videos to the right reveals what the camera caught.

The other video also shows some of the new wildlife with a twist for Halloween.

 

 

 

 

Click on picture for Streaming Video

 

Wildlife visiting our Louisville Kentucky Backyard

scroll and click for each bird or animal video, sound and or picture

 

 

 

The last Video is a review of the backyard  wildlife encountered this year

Backyard Wildlife Review 2006

 

 

 

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