This time of year, the park is alive with song, sun, and scavenging for just the right nesting setup. It’s often a team effort; as the robin above collected dry grass, her mate was on a nearby branch, seeeep-ing softly.
Robins’ approach to nest construction is within the broad category of assembling: taking biological or non-biological materials and putting them together in various ways to form a sturdy nest. More specifically, robins use an interlocking technique, piling sticks together, then weaving grass to make a soft bed for their eggs and later young.
But the real expert weavers in our woods are the Bushtits, those perfect tiny brown fuzzballs who work assiduously to weave a huge variety of forest materials—lichens, mosses, feathers, grass fibers, spider silk—into a long, flexible, snug place to raise children. This female Bushtit is just leaving her nest-under-construction after several minutes of interior decorating.
Prospective parents who aren’t weaving their nests are busy at excavations. For the past few weeks, chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Flickers, and other cavity-nesters have been exploring various nest possibilities in the forest.
Humans have provided some nice nesting opportunities near the park as well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Black-capped Chickadees who seem to have chosen this incredibly convenient-to-photograph nest hole—at human-eye level in the utility pole across the street—will keep at it. How great it would be to have a spring full of baby chickadees to follow!
More secretive are our seasonal visitors, the warblers. I’ve never managed to find their nests in the park; I feel lucky enough just to occasionally get to see the actual bird, usually camouflaged perfectly in the foliation…
We also have Yellow Warblers, Townsend’s Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, and Yell0w-rumped Warblers, but so far this spring they’ve been too sneaky for me to get a good current-year photo to share with you.
The woods are full of secrets and surprises this time of year. It’s a time for new hope as buds burst into flowers and birds burst into music. Happy May Day!
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