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Robin's Nest 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 "Song Sparrow Nest" and each new day's entries will be beneath with the most recent being at the bottom of the scroll.

 

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Song Sparrow Nest

With Cowbird Eggs?

Videos From the Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

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

 

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

 

 

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.

Click on these pictures for the Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on these thumbnails for the full size picture.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.

 

Thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the Pictures in this column for the videos.

 

 

 

 

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