Thursday, July 16, 2009
Mom to baby kingbirds in post entitled "pictures"
To find nests Arjun and I mainly would rope drag the fields of the park... this was fairly unproductive. When you rope drag you are trying to flush females off of the nest so you can search where she left and hopefully find it! This happened only occasionally while we were rope dragging. Recently, because of extremely strong winds (we think it's kind of counterproductive that if the wind is blowing the grass over, and this is what you do rope dragging, that it won't make a difference) we've been doing a lot of just nest searching. We've been going through the areas that have denser vegetation that can't be rope dragged. On Tuesday this yielded us 3 nests and we also found a turkey nest while we were mist netting that morning. Yesterday it yielded another 3 nests! We actually found 4, but one is in a tree, so it doesn't count (only doing grassland birds). We are very excited, our goal was to get at least as many as the interns from last year (hopefully more) and they had 15... we now have 19!! I think we will definitely find more before the end too, so that's really good!
Today we started point counts and vegetation sampling again (as we need to do each twice in our time here, so this is the second time around). It's a really good thing we're doing it again cause we can really notice the differences in occurrences of birds as well as the growth of vegetation! There are heaps of birds we don't see much of now that used to be all over (grackles), and we are seeing a lot more of other birds. And of course the vegetation has changed dramatically!
Each morning when we go out there is heaps of dew on the grass, so we get quite wet walking through it. Dad was wonderful enough to buy me a nice pair of gortex boots before I came out here, so my feet could stay dry... well, they are very waterproof for sure but there's a different problem. My pants become so wet while walking through the grass that water drips down my legs and soaks my socks!! Today was especially bad, I was walking around in my own little puddles. I always bring my mesh tennis shoes with me for later in the day because usually it's cool and wet in the morning and then really hot and dry later on and the boots get too hot, well, today I had to change early cause it was like I was walking around with two buckets of water on my feet! I should have brought dad's lower leg gators with me! Anyway, it's not that bad, just annoying really.
We have been seeing more and more baby birds about now too! Today I flushed a female pheasant and about a foot away were at least 4 chicks, they were so cute! We've been finding quite a few Red-Wing Black Bird nests (they are easy to find cause they choose a certain grass/shrub to nest in, usually around water, and chirp at you when you get too close then the female flushes right off of the nest). There is one nest near the pond along the trail and the male RWBL was so mad at me for being there that he was just a few inches above my head swooping me a lot, which for them isn't very normal, all of the others have kept a distance! Just after I found that nest I went to look in some bushes just for the heck of it, and when I was walking through a large patch of bush, I brushed away some leaves and saw the tinniest patch of pin feathers, and there was one huge baby in a nest!! I couldn't believe it!! Out of that whole big patch of bushes the nest was RIGHT next to where I stepped... and really well hidden too! What luck.
baby bird I found... it is possibly a Brown-Headed Cow Bird chick in a Clay Colored Sparrow nest (they are nest parasites)