Sunday, June 30, 2013

The 2013 Generation - Part I

Nothing is cuter than a new born baby. They look so adorable as they sleep, make their first noises, learn to eat solid food, and take their first steps. Even the adolescent period where you are not quite an adult, but no longer a baby can be enjoyable to watch (but not always fun to experience).

It is similar with watching birds progress from bonding, to mating, to giving birth, raising a family, to watching them enter adulthood. That's one thing that makes this time of year so enjoyable at the refuge. Each day another chapter in the drama of life unfolds.

Some of the earliest nesters are the Canada Geese. It seems like the numbers of newborns was down this year. Of course this is based on nothing more scientific than the impression of how difficult it was to cross the Dike early in the morning. One day, I caught this bit of sibling interaction. They were definitely sorting out the pecking order (literally).

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Before the flooding we used to think it was hard to get views of juvenile Virginia Rails. At the time I was thrilled to get these photos of a young one running along the path. Now I am just happy that it was in that young, just bigger than the puff ball stage.

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Some of us do not get good looking until later in life. This bird falls into that category. I might be mistaken, but I think it is a juvenile Red-winged Blackbird.

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Down near the river the Grackles had a successful nest. It was difficult to see & photograph back in the woods, but here is one of the parents feedign a chick.

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

I was so proud of this nest. I saw the parent squabbling with Tree Sparrows early on over the beginning of this hole. Later, I was excited when I noticed that they had finished the hole and I thought I could see a head inside. Indeed these Downy Woodpeckers raised two chicks that fledged, one male and a female.

They selected a great place to let us watch the drama unfold. The nest was right alongside the Cross-Dike trail just before it exited the woods. Did you see it?

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130609 &emdash;

As they got closer to fledging the parents would no longer put their heads in the nest, but remain outside. They would get the chick to extend further and further to get the food. I didn't witness it, but sometime after the last photo I took and the next morning the chicks decided to step out and explore that outside world.

Check back again for Part II.