This Spring has shown me a most incredible thing: life. I've been actively observing birds working hard to become proud, successful parents.
I monitor the BLUEBIRD boxes at Greenbury Point here in Annapolis. If I am to attempt accuracy, I should call them NEST BOXES. Reason being, there are two pairs of nesting CAROLINA CHICKADEES, three pairs of TREE SWALLOWS in addition to the 12 nestboxes currently occupied by EASTERN BLUEBIRDS.
The other day, I went to check on the Point boxes. (I should tell you, I divide the place into three areas: Upper Golf Course, Lower Course and the Point. It's over 60 boxes to check... so, you see why, right?) So back to my story. I went to check on some of the boxes that have a history of TREE SWALLOWS. Well, while visiting one, I spotted a swallow on top of this particular box. As I approached, he (or she) flew off to a nearby tree limb to perch and watch me. I open the box to do an egg count and there is Mom (or Dad) on eggs, lying motionless and facing the back of the box. So motionless was the bird that I thought there might be a problem. Rather than do further investigation, I closed the box and moved away to do some further observation. I wanted to see if Mom (or Dad) might leave the nest, pop out on top, or show some sign of life. The other swallow returned to the top of the box, but after several minutes the bird in the box remained out of sight. So now I am left wondering.
A few houses later, I paid a visit to a brand new box that we put up just this year. Usually, these don't get inhabited right away. I opened it up expecting nothing when all of the sudden I saw a TREE SWALLOW on eggs. This time she was facing me, again, almost completely motionless, but with eyes fixed on me. With an look like 'okay, you found me... be gentle', I closed the box and let the bird continue the work of incubation.
My friend Andy told me stories about when he banded SWALLOWS. He said that when you pull them from the fine mist nets that they use to catch them, they are unbelievably docile and gentle. They don't make a fuss, no biting, no attempts at escape, etc. He said they are a pure joy to study. I have to agree. I like them so much, I had Adam engrave two of them into a 12x12 inch wooden piece of black walnut placed in my new floors.
In other nesting news, there is a pair of nesting wrens in this house:
And a pair of Catbirds in the tree behind it. Also there is a pair of CAROLINA CHICKADEES that live here:
Two broods of House Finches are out and about in the yard. I've counted 7 young-uns and four parents flitting about the yard. They are feasting on the seed that I've got out in the yard. Dad and Mom take turns feed them beak to beak... like when they were in the nest. The little finches all perch on the hanging feeders, sometimes five at a time. They are clumsy flyers these first few days. Two cats are lurking about in the shrubs looking at them hungrily. I don't like cats. Especially ones that are left to roam outside. That's another story all together. Anyway, these House Finches are hungry little ones indeed. And what's more, they entertain Oiseau the Wonder Dog all day long.
Oh, and last Saturday I went out birding with Brian, Ryan and Andy on the Eastern Shore from 3AM until 8PM. Needless to say, it was a lot of birding. I spotted a BALTIMORE ORIOLE, a CUCKOO and other odds and ends. They are quite talented at hearing warbler songs and knowing what bird is singing what tune. Me? I'm learning. I can tell you which song is from what album... close, but it wont find me a bird in a tree.
But back to the mystery of the motionless TREE SWALLOW. I went back to check on the box yesterday with my lovely Emery. Was the mystery solved? Were both Mom and Dad TREE SWALLOW alive and well? Did batman ever escape? Stay tuned for the answer to those questions AND more enormous news from the Haas nest...