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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cute Times Six

A few years ago my mother installed seven bluebird nestboxes on her property in upstate New York. The bad news is that she rarely attracts Eastern Bluebirds. The good news is that the wooden boxes never go unused.

Over the past weekend I experienced a nice mix of breeding bird within earshot of her house; Alder Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch and House Finch could be heard nearly every hour of the day. Chimney Swift, Tree Swallow and Barn Swallow added a happy, chittering sound overhead. Bobolinks could be heard singing sporadically from the field just down the road. Around her backyard, Tree Swallows created an aerial ballet from dawn to dusk. Above a small, spring-fed pond, the swallows continuously swooped back and forth, catching dragonflies and other tiny insects. Five out of the seven nestboxes have been claimed by pairs of these blue and white swallows. When the female would poke her head out of the box's opening, signaling to her mate that she needed a break, the male would stand guard from a perch on the sloped roof.

On Monday I decided to take a survey of the nestbox contents. There is a small latch on the face panel. When unlatched the panel pivets down, allowing access to the interior. I quietly approached each box, then slowly tilted it opened. None of the Tree Swallows had hatched young, yet, and the females had all laid clutches of three to five eggs. A House Wren sang from a tree next to an unused box at the edge of the pond. If he is lucky enough to find a mate, maybe he'll take advantage of the vacancy. The last box I checked revealed an unexpected, and very crowded, family portrait. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, because I had been hearing the familiar, "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" and "fee-bee" of this species all weekend. In any case, it brought an immediate smile to my face when I stared down on six nestling Black-capped Chickadees. The sextuplets were fully feathered and appeared ready to fledge at any moment. DEE-DEE-DEE!


yojimbot said...

Good luck little DEES!

Starz723 said...

What a wonderful picture!! How lucky we are to get to see this. Right time, right place to get them just before fledging. Very cute indeed! This will no doubt be one of my favorite pictures in your collection.

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