Sunday, May 28, 2017

Baltimore Oriole

                  A female Baltimore Oriole darts across the sky in search of special nesting material.

                      There's no counting the number of trips she's made to make her nest just right.

She has been working for maybe a week now.

First, the support strands were woven with stringlike material such as vine, grasses and even fishing line. Next, fibers like wool and horsehair gave it the typical oriole pouch-like shape.

It's now time to add a soft lining of plant material, feathers, and even manmade materials such as cellophane.

The male Baltimore Oriole will occasionally supply building materials to her, but she alone does all the construction work.

The male's job is protection of the home territory, which, surprisingly, is quite small compared to other birds.

Protection and providing food to the nestlings are his main functions.

That, and looking pretty.

The nest dangles at a hard to reach branch end for safety from ferrel cats and natural predators.

It's important to be comfortable for two weeks of sitting on 3-7 eggs.

Spring is a busy season and her only opportunity to raise a clutch this year. So her work continues relentlessly. Trip after trip she gathers tiny additions of featherweight material.

With luck, there will be more baby Baltimore Orioles in 2017.

Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Barred Owls

Only two now, but once they were three.

These young Barred Owls seem confused as to where their nest mate has gone.

Nesting together in the aging ash tree is the extent of what they know and it's just not the same now.

Something draws them forward into the light... footsteps in the forest?

No danger here.

Things are under control as an adult Barred Owl stands guard outside...adults look alike.

No matter how sleepy looking this appears, s/he is aware of the coming and going of creatures on the ground.

The missing sibling is safe, too. This fluffy ball of feathers wandered up the tree in an early exercise of independence.

S/he stares down intently through the leaves of early spring.

This adventurous member of the trio can fly, though its landings are inelegant. Everything is new to this Barred Owl owlet. Remaining motionless is the chosen defense.

John, the property owner who tipped me off to the nest, takes an owlet picture.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

My friend and fellow photographer, Fred Thorne, captured this image of a chick being feed by an adult.

It's evidence of a chipmunk's last few seconds on earth.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

It's two days later now and the two remaining owlets have flown the nest. They still have a lot to learn about being a Barred Owl.

Here the owlet on the left thinks the owlet on the right's foot is food. The mistake was quickly rectified with a sharp peck to the head.

All three will be cared for through the coming weeks as they grow out of their downy owlet feathers. They'll quickly take on a coat of flight feathers on their way to becoming full fledged Barred Owls.

Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley's Guide to Birds