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Posts Tagged ‘robins’

The past few days have been hot, hot, hot!  We could learn a thing or two from the wild birds.  They know how to keep their cool in hot weather.  They hydrate at the local watering hole …

Take the kids swimming…

And even risk looking silly by taking a refreshing plunge themselves.

If there isn’t a pool or a shore nearby, other options are always available.  This young male pheasant was photographed moments after enjoying a quick dust bath in the ashes of an old fire pit.  Apparently such baths can be quite cooling.  Who knew!  I was wondering what those little depressions in the dust were.  Birds hunker down in them before they fluff dust into their feathers.

Doesn’t he look cool and relaxed despite the fact that there was a cat on the prowl nearby?  A cat, I might add, that I’ve already caught twice having a dip in the bird bath.   I guess we’re all desperate to keep cool these days.  But I don’t think I’m desperate enough to have a dust bath.  Not yet at least.

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nest

It’s not uncommon to find birds’ nests in my yard.  A few years ago, I took an inventory and managed to count ten.  I’ve found them resting on branches, in tree cavities and on the ground.  Many last long after the nesting season is over, sometimes into the following year.  They are sturdy and surprisingly well hidden.  In order to take the above photo, I had to extend my arm above my head while reaching into a tree.

Different species of birds use a variety of techniques to build nests.  What is most interesting is how different couples work together to get the job done.  Here are some of the many ways that couples share the task.

  • Males and females work together equally, ie. woodpeckers.  (Thelma, would you hold this for me while I drill it?)
  • The female selects and completes one of several sample nests made by the male, ie.wrens (I’m not 100% sure George, but I think this one will look best after I spruce it up a little.  What do you think?).
  • The male gathers nest-building materials and brings them to the female who builds the nest, ie. mourning doves (Here’s another piece of thread, darling).
  • The female gathers the materials and builds the nest all by herself , ie. hummingbirds(Just get out of my way John.  Can’t you see I’m working here?  There’ll be time for that later).
  • Both gather the materials but only the female builds the nest, ie. American robins (Ok Roger, the twig I found should fit, if you get me a smaller one to place beneath it).
  • The female gathers the materials and brings them to the male who builds the nest (Nice lichens Dorothy.  Are there any more where those came from?)
  • The male gathers the materials and builds the nest all by himself, ie. some shrikes (You know what a perfectionist Mark is.  He likes to take his time and get everything just right).

Regardless of ‘how’ the task is completed, nests are built annually, providing a stable shelter for offspring during inclement weather and safety from predators.    Not all couples may share the task equally but all being results-oriented, they manage to get the job done on time and within budget.  If only human couples could work so well together!

The above techniques are from The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of American Birds.

See here for a classified list of nests that may still be on the market this season.

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Every spring when birds return from their travels south, the first order of work is to build or re-build a nest.  I’ve come across a  few nests in the woods that still seem intact enough, though discriminating birds may not agree…

nest1Gently used nest for lease in quiet neighborhood.  Situated at least 6 feet off the ground so should meet the standards for returning robins.   Close to a naturally kept lawn with lots of  juicy worms.  No cats.

nest2

Charming fixer-upper available immediately.  May require re-mudding.  Ideal for a large family.  Secluded enough in dense wooded area to ensure privacy and protection from high winds.   No cats.  All offers considered.

nesthole

High rise living at its finest.  Historic property with original hardwood floors and panelling.  Enjoy beautiful sunsets from your private balcony.  No cats.  Going fast.

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