Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Naturally Beautiful Structures are Nests

This is the oldest tree on the property, the old oak which I've shown you before. Somehow it has escaped the axe in over a hundred years.  It is just coming into leaf in this photo.  As much as you might seek the shade on these hot summer days, you can't spend too much time under it as it is always losing bits and pieces of itself and any moment, you could get hit over the head with a bit of branch.  It still grows a few acorns though, which disappear as soon as they drop.  See the woodpile on the left; that's where two chipmunks live and I blame them for the vanishing acorns.

Hubby held a ladder for me but this was as high as I could get to take a picture.

This is last year's robin's nest in the oak tree and it had been abandoned by the time I took this photo. With much trepidation, I watched her build this nest.  There was not a leaf on the tree when she started or finished; the nest was completely open to the sky and unprotected from the elements or predators.  I assume she was a novice mother to have picked such an unlikely spot to raise her baby birds.  It was a relief to realize after several days of watching that she had abandoned this site before laying any eggs.  But what a waste of her time and effort.  Robins build beautiful nests starting with grass and twigs, then form a cup of mud-like material, this part is perfectly smooth and strong, then that is lined with softer grass, hair, or hay.  I hope her instincts have kicked in and she has chosen a better nesting site now.

This was another failed site, in the wood shed attached to the garage.  I watched the robin work hard at this nest and get to the packed mud stage before abandoning it.  I think the cat was on the prowl and scared her off.

Here is a chipping sparrow's nest.  Tiny and sweet

and full of Rex's hairs.  I could feel the warmth of them when I held it in my hand.

Aren't nests the most remarkable structures?

Last year's chipping sparrow's nest from the same fir tree in the back yard that the sparrows always favour.  There are usually several nests in this tree. This nest was like the one above, quite tiny and the photo can't let you tell just how small the nest and the miniature egg are but believe me very tiny.  Several days later when I checked back, there were four eggs sitting there.  In contrast to the robin's nest, I only knew this nest was there from observing the mother flying back and forth to the site. Just like this year, I had to lift the covering branch to see the nest and don't worry, I was careful not to disturb her any time when she was there.  Anyway, this nest was perfectly hidden, completely covered; no predator could see it from above for sure. 

And here is another robin's nest in a corner of the barn in 2013.  All three of these eggs were eventually fledged successfully.

                                             It is really amazing what a beak can do!