Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mustachioed Bushtits

Sounds kinky, but I'm merely referring to some of our tiniest avian friends, the bushtits, and their appearance when ferrying nesting material from branch to branch in spring. Moss, lichen, feathers, dog hair, you name it. They are such teeny-tinies that a mere inch of moss can obscure an entire face (see upper left), giving the appearance of an exuberantly over-mustachioed dandy.

And this one carrying a little stick skewered with fluffy bits looks like Pinocchio:

And here is a crow in transport mode:

Hardcore Spring

Nest-building abounds this weekend. Standing on the lawn of Holy Names Academy at 21st and Mercer, I can point to three crow building operations, one flicker nest-carving maneuver, and one nearly completed bushtit nest (see male with unnerving yellow eyes above).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Cuteness

If this little bundle of cuteness showed up at your front door, would you turn it away? I doubt it. It's a storybook bird, with a jaunty little accent aigu of scarlet atop its head. A fine companion it would be.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Say Osprey, You Say Seahawk...

Whatever you choose to call it, it's pretty darn stunning--you can even see the sunlight glinting off its keen yellow eyes. Spied a few days ago alongside the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon. I have seen an osprey--and its nest--in the exact same location for a number of years now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pendulous Nest

Here's another bizarr-o nest (below left): a two- to three-foot nest, constructed by expert avian weavers in Mexico, Alta Mira Orioles.

I was amused to see a similarly-shaped outdoor lamp covering (right) in a resort hotel just a few miles from where I saw the nests. Was the lamp's shape mere coincidence or was the artisan/designer inspired by the pendulous nests?

Mystery Nest!

Speaking of nests and recycling, check this one out. Yes, this is a nest. Made almost entirely of fishing line. I was in central Washington a few weeks back and was stymied by these balls hanging from trees alongside Wenas Lake. They looked so densely and solidly spherical that I initially mistook them for a human construction--some sort of visual conundrum/practical joke thrown up into the trees to confound passersby. But when my friend and I managed to pry one down to eye level, we saw that it was indeed a bird's nest: a rounded, snug cup comprised almost entirely of fishing line. It was lightly lined with plant matter and buttressed by a few sprigs.

The birds even added metallic dealiebobs which had a decorative effect--like earrings dangling in the breeze.

I'm not sure what species made these, so welcome any input.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birds Recyle Too!

Birds are exemplary recyclers--these bushtits are gleaning mossy bits from a tattered bushtit nest of yesteryear, presumably for this year's nest. (Or perhaps they were merely insect hunting.) Any keen bushtit watcher can recognize this type of nest, whether it's in just-woven condition (looking very much like a tatty, discarded gym sock that has never seen a spin cycle) or in tattered shreds (as these fragments are) flailing from a tree.

Our avian friends offer an efficient approach to home-building; they do not manufacture anything to build their nests; instead they cull and transform existing objects to build their broody homes.

In fact, many birds collect the feathers of other birds of species other than their own. In other words, you can find russety robin feathers, for example, in a bushtit nest. We sleep on feather down pillows, cossetted in feather down duvets, as do birds in their own way.