Wildlife Odds and Ends

I walk often, usually traveling short distances on local trails. Late Spring is a wonderful time to do this because there’s so much going on in the world of wildlife.

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Wildlife populations are approaching their annual peak as new recruits arrive daily!

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Juvenile Red Squirrel

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Goslings

Songbirds are in various stages of nesting: some are building nests, some are sitting on eggs, some are feeding young. Regardless of the species, males can usually be heard singing on the nesting territories.

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Chestnut-sided Warbler above a dense thicket of shrubs and young trees

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Great Crested Flycatcher nesting in a “Bluebird” box (1 of 3)

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Reptiles and amphibians have come alive in the summer-like heat. This American Toad has claimed my compost pile as home.

ToadCompost27May16#1833E3c5x7_edited-1

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Tree Swallows

Countless species of woody plants, native and exotic, invade abandoned farmland after a few short years. Dogwoods, viburnums, honeysuckles, buckthorn, multiflora rose and white ash are prominent colonizers in this area. In order to sustain a variety of wildlife species on these sites, some sort of habitat management is inevitable. The maintenance of large herbaceous openings with an annual mowing (brush-hogging) that subordinates and/or eliminates woody vegetation is one example. With the addition of nest boxes, such habitats will attract and support tree swallows, blue birds, house wrens and other cavity nesting birds.

The first migratory bird species to arrive and claim nest boxes at my location is the tree swallow (in more suitable habitat it might be the bluebird). I watch several pairs of tree swallows every spring as they feed on the wing, court, fight, build nests, defend nests and raise young. Every year I think I have enough swallow pics and will leave the camera at home while I’m working in the field. And every year I take more pictures! Love these graceful little bug-eating machines!!!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Nest-building Songbirds

In an earlier post (Habitat Management for Songbirds, 4/21/13) I covered the use of artificial nest boxes by cavity-nesting birds. As an update to that, about a dozen boxes are now occupied and most Tree Swallows, Bluebirds and House Wrens are on nests.

However, I first heard the Great Crested Flycatcher just a week ago and yesterday had an opportunity to watch as one brought small bundles of pine straw (shed White Pine needles on the ground) to a nest box. Curiously, of the many boxes distributed over several acres, this same site is chosen year in and year out by the flycatchers.

 

GCFlycatcher25May13#005E2

I also discovered that a pair of House Wrens, perhaps late arrivals, had claimed an empty box in a thicket  near the edge of the yard.

HouseWren22May13#018E

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.