Monday, July 6, 2009

Hiding a Nest

On your average walk through most natural areas around Portland a birder will see and hear probably 20-30 species of bird. Songbirds, birds of prey, waterbirds and the like. Each species has different needs for building a nest, gathering food and successfully raising chicks. Ospreys nest right out in the open....if you're top of the food chain you don't need to worry much about predation. Barn and Cliff Swallows build fairly obvious nests under bridges or rooflines and their height above ground and colonial tendencies help protect them from predators. Great Blue Herons nest in colonies above ground and away from most predators.

Anyway, you get the picture.

But of those 20-30 species you've seen on your walk most are smaller songbirds that go to great lengths to conceal their nests from predators. Building and incubating are probably the easiest time. Once chicks are hatched and hungry the parents are actively feeding and much more activity goes on around the nest. You are more likely to find a nest during the nestling phase if you keep your ears open for the frantic begging calls of the nestlings.

So here's what happened to us at the Sandy River Delta on Saturday. We'd had great looks at all kinds of songbirds and had been serenaded by Thrushes and Chats. Walked by this tree......

No big deal, right? A tree. But heard begging and noticed a lump......See it?

Got the scope on it and here they were!!

Four Cedar Waxing nestlings well concealed on the branch! Parent had just fed them and left so they were lolling about in the heat. Waited for parent to come back and shot this video:

Why are they so noisy when the parent has been so careful to conceal the nest? We take it for granted that baby birds make noise or that any baby makes noise, for that matter. Does the struggle to get the most food and leave the nest simply outweigh the possibility of being found and eaten? Anyone out there have information on that subject?

Keep your ears open and maybe you'll find some babies, too!


Raven said...

They sure made a lot of noise given the importance of remaining concealed!

Laura W. said...

Raven, you are quite right. I have rewritten the end of the post to ask that question. What do you think?

NW Nature Nut said...

How fun! I love the video and Mark's excitement in the background. I have never seen cedar waxwing babies. So cute!

Chris Petrak said...

You are so right! the nest are hidden and it is such a treat when you find one.

raven said...

Here are links to a couple of articles that seem to support the notion that noisier nestlings of some species simply get fed more!

hi-d said...

Those little one's are so adorable, and yes, noisy too! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great day!

Dawn Fine said...

LOL..those chicks look like they might fall out of the nest if they keep reaching out to be fed as they do..
great to see the video.

Jenna said...

Great pictures! You got so close! We have the chance to get really close with out here in Newfoundland too...lots of birds to be seen and photo ops to be had!

Kingsdowner said...

Great video!

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