The 2008 Journal
Mainly it is about the wildlife whose existence around our home follows a somewhat predictable pattern from year to year but still manages to be full of surprises with no outcome guaranteed. Since the first sighting of Flying squirrels in 1993, we have been fascinated by the variety of the wildlife to be observed and studied right here on our half acre. I have chronicled some of that activity for the last few years in a number of different formats. This year the schema will be simply a page or multiple pages per month. Follow the adventure by selecting each month from the menu.
May 1- What a way to start your May. The world is fresh and new , the blooms are bright against the green and the sounds of birds, blend in with the drones of the power mowers and weed eaters echoing over the hills and from the valleys. Man and Nature living side by side. Well, now that the poetic urges are satisfied, I will get down to business. There is progress all along the avian renewal front. Today I discovered another Robin nest with two or three hatchlings visible and quite a bit more advanced than their unfortunate kin whose demise is chronicled on the April page. Two parent Robins are busy keeping the gaping beaks filled with the easy pickings from the damp and awakening earth. It is amazing to me how clever these masters of disguise can be in hiding their nests from me even though I specifically and routinely look for them. So once again I stumbled on them while doing some gardening chores in the same area as I have over the last few days.
The nest location is in the Holly shrub between the Boxwoods.
This location does not afford a great place for the remote, but it is easily visible from the dining room window and so I will monitor it from the non invasive interior.
Video - Finding the New Robin Nest
Meanwhile across the County at Phil's place the goslings hatched in time for the May Day Celebration. These little guys are ready for life and action almost immediately upon making their entrance. Notice the Pictures from Phil , all from today May 1.
That's Ellie discovering the new neighbors
Meanwhile back at the home place----After making the Robin Nest discovery I continued on making the rounds and found this Chipmunk in a Holly Tree. Now I know they climb but in all of my years have never seen one apparently camped out on a limb. He was obliging and so here is its portrait.
Another Item of interest to me, is that through the Winter I never see a Cowbird at the feeders. It seems to me that they start showing up in April just in time to do their mischief of raiding the songbird nests, and leaving their own eggs for the surrogate parents to raise. I know nature is what it is but there is something just grossly unfair about this phenomenon. The Cowbird pair below
May 2---- So far can only confirm two hatchlings in our Nest number 2. Shooting the videos from inside and today was a very rainy and stormy day. The video for today shows both the male and female Robin bringing in food for the always hungry chicks. Even though it was raining there were several times today when the female left them uncovered. Guess it is more important to bring in the morsels than to keep them warm. Click on the below picture for the streaming video.
May 3---- Today is Derby Day, a big deal here in Louisville, and the home of the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, the Kentucky Derby. Like our Nature experiences, a time of great triumph and also a time of great tragedy. Congratulations to Big Brown, the winner and condolences to the tragic end of the second place finisher Eight Bells, who suffered fractures in both of her front legs, and was euthanized on the track shortly after the race. Today though on the Nature side things are still on the triumphant side. The Goslings and the two Canada Geese parents are truly out and about and our Robin Pair can be seen working closely together together as all appears normal on the Nest.
Phil describes the latest on the Goose family.
"The geese are doing fine. I am amazed at the size of the territory they
wander over. On only the second day they marched out our driveway to
who-knows where. I figured we wouldn't see them again for several weeks. But
yesterday they re-appeared. This morning they are over in the neighbors
pond. Kind of amazing. "
Click on the pictures for the Robin Nest Video
May 4 ---- Just a beautiful Spring Sunday with the Robin's world engulfed in the splendor of blooming color. Lot's of green worms for the taking and the Robin parents are picking up feeding run frequency. Pretty sure now that only two in this nest but as the picture shows, the start of the wing feathers is well underway.
Click on the picture for the short video for today.
Monday May 5 -- All is still fine at the Robin's nest and we can know a little more about the nestlings. It is clear from the pictures and video of today, that the chicks have their eyes open which indicates that they are least six days old. The shots yesterday were not close enough to determine whether the eyes were open, so this might be their sixth day or perhaps their seventh. At any rate this makes this coming weekend very likely for fledging. Today's video clearly reveals the eye opening fact.
Click on the pictures for the short video for May 5
Tuesday May 6 - A hot one today, relatively speaking, about 80 and lots of sunshine. Lots of Spring planting today , and some of it very close to the in progress Robin nest. I would have to say they are tolerating me rather well and seem to go about their business as I went about mine. One of the pictures from today shows a Robin worm delivery about to be made and crossing the grass just under the camera tripod. Nothing unusual today from the nest but perhaps a little more fully clothed are the wee ones.
click on any of the pictures below for the short video
Thursday May 8 -- It has been two days since last we checked in on the two hatchlings in nest number 2 for 2008. While yesterday was a great day with lots of sunshine, today is very different . Heavy rain fell during the night and continued for the day. While the female covered them during the most heavy downpours, they were exposed to the elements much of the day as it takes both parents to bring in the food , Since the normal time from hatch to fledge is 12 to fourteen days, I suspect our twosome is within only four or five days of leaving the nest. So far so good. The video for today shows some of the rainy day activity. Click on the picture for the video
Click on the picture for the video
The Robin nest is not the only nature happening on the premises. Tonight one of my favorite wild animals, made itself quite accessible. Around 9PM having placed the sunflower hearts in the feeder, one of the fearless little fellows obliged me with some up close and personal video shots. There were at least two and probably more as the record on that tree at one time was 30 occurring a few years ago.
Click on the picture for the video
Click on the picture for the video
May 9-- Another cool but not so rainy day. Nothing unusual at the Robin nest, but the feeding goes on and the chicks are moving around a bit more.
Did catch a glimpse of a Rose Breasted Grosbeak though. This bird has been relatively rare here at the home place but in the last two years seems to be a more frequent visitor.
May 10-- The Robin hatchling duo seems to have grown substantially in the last two days. They are really getting revved up it seems for the coming first flight. Certainly very likely in the next two or three days. One of the parents seemed to consider whether it was time to do the tease with food to get them to come on out of the nest, then perhaps thought better of it and continued the feeding. Look for that in today's video. Click on the pictures below for the video.
May 11- Well my first estimate of this weekend for the fledging time was perhaps the most accurate. Today was the cool , rainy and very windy day that they all apparently decided it was time to go. The camera caught a little action just before they were gone from the nest. So hopefully the second 2008 nest was successful and the robin replenishment program stays on track. Click on the pictures below for the last robin nest video.
May 12 - A day for reflection and perhaps facing up to a few sobering facts regarding my assumptions that the two hatchlings did indeed fledge on the 12th day. Unfortunately we will never know for sure if my initial assumption was correct. All of my shots on this nest were made with a digital video camera from the inside of the house, because the location did not lend itself to the placement of my normal remote X10 wireless cameras. The digital requires a lot more work as the tape only records 1 hour before requiring a change. It so happens that the nest became empty when the camera was not recording. Normally with the X10 camera, I record to DVD that records up to 6 hours before requiring a change. At any rate the video of what ever happened was not recorded. Now naturally since I would like to be an optimist and since the timing was right for the fledging to occur, hence my assumption that the natural fledging did indeed take place. There are some facts, however that perhaps might explain what really happened. A friend had stopped by and I was speaking with him just inside the garage since it was raining and very windy, This was at the time that the camera needed a tape change which I did just after our conversation. While we were talking, about 12:30 PM, a large hawk flew around the house with something alive in it's claws and a medium sized bird chasing it . It was too high and too quickly out of sight to identify the victim or the chaser, but at the time I thought the chase bird was a grackle. After a few minutes the friend left and I went to change the tape in the camera. That's when I noticed the nest seemed to be empty. So with umbrella extended , I went around the house to the nest location to confirm that it was empty. Not only were the two hatchlings gone, but gone also was the un-hatched egg that had been there throughout the nestling stay. This seemed strange to me but I still gave the fledging story a 50-50 chance. Today however, a new fact introduced by my next door neighbor leads me to think the worst for the two hatchlings. Timing is everything. It so happens that on this Mother's Day that a family visitor to my neighbor arrived in the 12:30 to 1:00 PM time frame and related to my neighbor a large hawk sitting on one of the fence posts close to where the nest is located, then the hawk flew to sit on the Air Conditioner unit which is very close to the nest location. The hawk then flew out over them. While they did not report anything in the claws, the circumstantial evidence now leads me to conclude that this nest also ended in tragedy. Too bad- If I see a couple of chicks following a robin parent around still being fed, then I will be elated to return to my first thought of a benign ending. I will not hold my breath though , and neither should you.
May 14- No sign of the believed to be unfortunate robin hatchlings. Today however was witness to a shouting match between the hawk and a robin. All of this took place fairly close to the now empty nest. Pictures below confirm this encounter and to me strengthens the disaster version of the empty nest. The hawk eventually flew away and the robin stayed on the wire for a good bit after. Could be one of our robin parents but no way to tell.
A resident Mockingbird at the feeder again. One of the most fearless of the birds, and usually lets me get fairly close.
Another nature induced chore for me. I have been seeing a cottontail rabbit or two around the grounds and today found that some of the flowers just recently put out were a target for these night time marauders . So out with the chicken wire , saved from the holly covering episode back in January . I think this will keep them away .
May 16- Well spotted today our third robin nest for 2008. This one is too high to get a camera on , so will just observe from time to time. It is in a Holly just under my office window but the placement under the abundant new growth is so good, that it is impossible to see from above. This is good because I saw just a day or two ago a crow in the same place the crow flew from to destroy the first robin nest . Hopefully the crow will not find this one, and even if it does, may not be able to get to it.
Lots of Cardinals around but have not spotted any Cardinal nest
The Bird Feeders are like Grand Central Station these days and below are a few of the regulars.
On your mark, get ready -- Looks like a race ready to start between this gray squirrel and the northern cardinal
House Finch pair
May 18 - No activity on the third Robin nest which appeared to be active a few days ago but now seems to have no activity. I fear that crow may have done the deed once again. Not all lost though as the Hummingbirds are becoming more and more active. Tonight while changing the sugar water, had a fearless male who continued to feed just a foot or so from me. Also the Flying Squirrel numbers are on the increase. At least four glided in to the feeder tree, while I stood at the feeder. Below a picture record of tonight's activity.
May 21 - Looks like the May nesting cycle is over on the premises with not even one happy conclusion to report. That's the way it is though and why only 40% of robin nest are successful. Crows, Hawks, snakes and cowbirds have all been caught doing their deeds here and on tape with near misses from gray squirrels, chipmunks, and neighbors house cats as well. Perhaps it is a miracle when any of them survive. We will keep looking though like tonight when I caught this late feeding hummer and a couple of other visitors.
May 22 - A happy homecoming across the County at Phil's place --he writes "The family visited today. They actually returned to the nest raft for while. Nostalgia, I suppose."
May 28 - May is just about spent for 2008 and it has been much better for us than this period one year ago and Peggy's week long stay in the hospital. While so far the nesting Robin experience this year has resulted in failure, there may be some hope yet as I think there is nest activity again in one of the Holly shrubs. Also today for a brief instant , there were two Pileated Woodpeckers on each side of a tree facing each other. What a picture that would have made, but camera was not in my hands at the time. tsk tsk. Had to repair the Flying Squirrel feeder since the heavy raccoons pulled it away from the tee last night. While out there also snapped a picture or two of a visiting Ruby Throated Hummer. See you in June
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