Saturday, June 5, 2010

Backyard Birdnests

One of the neat things about having so many birds in the backyard is the opportunity to watch their activity -- especially nesting activities. I've found several active bird nests in the backyard and thought you might enjoy seeing some of them too.

Last weekend, I watched a robin picking up the grass mulch from my garden and flying over to a nearby crabapple tree. Sure enough, she was building a nice little nest conveniently at eye-level in that tree. Can you see her on the nest in the photo below?

Isn't this a beautiful nest? We've had a fair amount of rain this week, so she was able to build a sturdy mud layer in this nest and then line it with the grass mulch from my garden. Looks there will be only 3 eggs in this nest. I love that beautiful turquoise color!

In the front yard, I have a wren house and a bluebird house. Both of these houses are currently occupied. I love this wren house because one side of the roof opens for easy monitoring. There are six eggs in this nest. This is one of 3 active house wren nests in the yard. I know wrens can sometimes be very territorial and destroy the eggs of other nesting birds, but to the best of my knowledge, my wrens have behaved so far.

The bluebirds have 4 eggs in this house. It's right next to the driveway and they don't take very kindly to my nest checks. These eggs should hatch sometime in the next few days.

There are 5 active Tree Swallow nests in the backyard too. Two pairs of Tree Swallows have made their nests in bluebird houses, so I can easily monitor their progress. Here's one of the nests with 4 eggs in it. I'm always amazed at the variety of feathers they're able to collect to line their nests. Looks like they even found a bluebird feather.

This female Tree Swallow wouldn't leave her nest, even after I opened the door. She moved to the back so I was able to see that she had 5 eggs. I quickly took the picture and closed up the door again so she could get back to incubating her eggs.

Earlier this year, I showed you the first active bluebird nest in the backyard. Unfortunately, I think a raccoon got the eggs from that nest box. A couple weeks ago, another pair of bluebirds decided to nest in the other house at this location. This time I decided to fabricate a raccoon baffle (from a stovepipe) to give my bluebirds the best chance at successfully raising a family. So far, this baffle is working.

Unlike the bluebirds in my front yard, these bluebirds have all-white eggs!
I'm so happy to have 2 nesting pairs of bluebirds in my yard this year. It's been quite a few years since this has happened, since my trees have grown up enough that the backyard isn't really ideal bluebird habitat anymore. I'm hoping this is another positive sign of bluebird population recovery here in Minnesota and that I've been able to contribute to that recovery in a small way.


KGMom said...

Wow--two bluebird nests. You are fortunate.
We had a cardinal nest in some arbor vitae right outside our sun porch. Our one inside cat spotted it, and would obsessively watch the comings and goings of the parent birds. When the baby birds fledged, our kitty would still go and look, wondering where they went.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Donna,
I have cardinals in the backyard too, but have never been fortunate enough to find where they nest. That would be very cool to see and watch them so close to the house.

Gaelyn said...

How wonderful to be able to watch the process from nest building to babies. You have quite a menagerie going on in your back yard. Seeing the bluebirds will be really great.
I see the Western variety here frequently, but not the nests.

NW Nature Nut said...

Those blue eggs are wonderful...hard to believe they are real! Wonderful photos!

Crafty Green Poet said...

well you must be looking forward to all the fledglings coming along! That's a lot of eggs!

maya said...

what a wonderful post! my 4yo daughter and i have really enjoyed it. we've been talking about birds and the nests they build for a while, but this really helped her understanding. thanks so much!

Judy DeBoer said...

Ruthie -
My friend Marianne has been posting on her FB status the past several days from a book on birds. Makes me think of you every day that I read her posts and I thought you might like the book. Here is today's post - Pine Finch or Siskin: “When a flock of Siskins settles on a pine on a winter day . . . little fluttering wings, thin as paper, and bright weightless bodies glide and dart capriciously over the bark and twigs; every brown cone has its bird, standing upside down to reach between the scales for the seed.” –Emma Bell Miles, Our Southern Birds, 1919

RuthieJ said...

Hi Gaelyn,
This is my favorite time of the year -- it definitely makes up for the long Minnesota winter. I know the brown thrasher and gray catbird have nests somewhere too, but I've not been able to find them in the thick cover they prefer.
I would love to see a Western bluebird someday -- another reason to visit the Grand Canyon, right?

Hi NW Nature Nut,
Thank you and welcome to my blog. Stay tuned....there will be baby photos once all those beautiful eggs have hatched.

Hi Juliet,
Welcome to my blog. I am really looking forward to lots of fledglings. Already having a fun time watching a young Hairy Woodpecker following its mom & dad around at the suet feeder on my deck.

Hi Maya,
Thank you and welcome to my blog. I'm always fascinated with the bird nests too. It's amazing to me they can build something so remarkable using just their beaks!

Hi Judy,
Thanks for sharing that quote. Pine siskins aren't seen very often in my backyard, but they're one of my favorites when they're here!