Saturday, June 20, 2009

Project Nestwatch

A house wren family moved into one of our nest boxes in the backyard. We signed up to watch them for Cornell Lab of Ornithology's citizen science Project Nestwatch. This is what we saw:

I think I see seven eggs in that one photo, but it may be six. It was very hard to get a decent look, let alone a good photo, because the wrens build a huge platform of sticks, nearly up to the top of the nest box, and then make a small cuplike nest of grass and feathers and other scraps. Interestingly, they use found feathers of other bird species. We saw cardinal, bluejay and some pretty black and white stripey feathers, as well as lots of drabber brown and gey...

Cornell Lab of Ornithology warns against checking the nest too frequently when it gets near time for the baby birds to fledge (i.e., leave the nest), so as not to scare them into premature fledging. So we've been very careful to let them be for the last little while. Perhaps too careful. Yesterday, when we checked the nest box, it was empty. The nest was crushed down, probably from the weight of the growing baby birds. There was no sign of any who did not make it. (Parents often do not remove dead youngsters who do not survive.) We never found signs of discarded eggs or eggshells, either.

So, it appears that all the eggs successfully hatched and developed into healthy fledglings. I'm disappointed not to have more accurate data to submit about when they fledged, but really thrilled to have been priviliged to witness their development as much as we did. And absolutely over the moon to have caught a glimpse of them flying around early yesterday evening. We only saw 5 babies and the parents, but I am guessing number six (and possibly seven) is out there somewhere...

Good luck, little birds!

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