Thursday, May 27, 2010
Is Anybirdy Home?
here and here). I can't be sure when the babies hatched, but the adults have been busy feeding them in the nest for the last ten days at least (since we returned from Florida). Now three hungry fledglings clamor for handouts from trees within about a 30 yard radius of the nest.
The Brown-crested Flycatcher nest is also empty. On Sunday the parents were still carrying in bugs and flies (see last Sunday's blog), but by Monday afternoon all was quiet, nobody home. I watched from the deck yesterday but saw no sign of flycatchers, young or old. I knew from previous years that the flycatchers did not stay particularly close to the nest just after fledging. Only once have I seen a young one make its first flight, poking its head up out of the vertical railroad tie a couple of times and then flying to the oak tree. But I thought I would see them this time since they were so close to the deck I spend so much time on. I looked for the flycatcher family yesterday but never saw any birds that looked like fledglings.
Today I did. Unfortunately, what I saw was a flycatcher interacting with a fledgling Bronzed Cowbird. Cowbird parasitism affects not just flycatchers but cardinals and especially hooded orioles, at least by my observations. I hope that the one cowbird chick I saw was not the only young bird the flycatchers raised in their house beside our house. I'll be watching for signs of successful nesting.
And speaking further of Anacuas, their green/gold berries are turning brighter gold and a few already orange. The nest tree is too small for berries yet, which is probably fortunate for the birds since when anacua berries ripen, the tree is a magnet for kingbirds, kiskadees, mockingbirds, thrashers, green jays and woodpeckers. I noticed yesterday in my ramble around the yard that a few of the gold berries are ripening to orange. If you look really close at the picture of the fledgling Kiskadees at the top of this post, you can see that one has a berry in its beak. I first thought it was a red berry of the fiddlewood but then decided it was a bright orange anacua berry because the fiddlewood berries are black when ripe (thus the alternate name negrito). I wouldn't think an adult Kiskadee would feed its young unripe fruit! Regardless, the young bird didn't seem to know what to do with the berry ripe or not. It clutched it in its beak for the longest time.
In addition to the three noisy, hungry Northern Kiskadees, I know that Starlings and Great-tailed Grackles and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers already have successfully nested. I'll keep reporting on what I find in my front-yard spying. Perhaps my reluctance to get too close to nesting areas means I miss some clues. I'm just disappointed that such a beautiful Altamira Oriole nest isn't being used. Something happened when we were away from home, but I don't really know what --and there's no reason to think the orioles aren't elsewhere in the neighborhood or across the river.