WORDS ON BIRDS
Breeding Birds Taking Advantage of Good Weather
By Steve Grinley
The weekend’s astronomical high tides should end the month-long
scourge of the dreaded greenhead flies along our marshes and
beaches. Those birders who have braved the swarms have been rewarded
with flocks of shorebirds, egrets and herons. A black tern was
spotted over the pans on Plum Island this past week. Several least
bitterns are showing well in the North Pool, viewable from the dike
behind hellcat to the delight of many birders.
Backyard reports include second, and sometimes third broods of many
species. There were several reports of bluebirds on a third nest.
Even some species that normally have only one brood were either
delayed, or the first nesting failed during our cold and wet early
spring, have nested again. Other birds are just capitalizing on the
good weather that we are now enjoying to raise another brood.
When we first started working on our
new house in Essex back in late May, the song of a house wren echoed
from a neighbor’s yard. Then later in June, we didn’t hear it so
much and then, eventually, not at all. But just in the past week,
the song comes bubbling from the neighbor’s yard again. I hadn’t
considered a second nesting, but that could be what is going on.
Doug Chickering of Groveland points out
some drama involving house wrens in his yard:
“Over the years we have placed two Wren houses in Lois’ back yard.
The older of the two is along the fence at the right side of the
yard and is clearly visible from the large windows in the living
room and dining area. The other one, more recent is set back against
the tree line at the back of the yard. It is visible in the winter
but once the Red-bud tree and Lilac bushes leaf out it disappears
into the greenery. We always manage to coax a Wren family to set up
in one of the houses.
they chose the one at the back of the yard, even though they carried
nesting material to both. I checked that box occasionally and
carefully - carefully for I didn’t want to impose upon our guests. I
am reasonably certain they successfully fledged from that house.
Recently the male House Wren has been patrolling the high trees in
the yard, belting out his long song with determination and
enthusiasm, as he did in May. It seemed reasonable to suppose he was
going for a second brood.
few days he has broken off his song and has started to go to the
nesting box on the fence. Occasionally we have seen two of them
putting nesting material into that box. I also noticed one of the
Wrens has been accompanied by a fledgling Wren. As he/she toils away
at construction, the youngster sits on the roof of the house and
begs for food, fluttering his wings and opening his bill, which is
still bright yellow in the interior.
“The adult completely ignores the insistent entreaties of the
fledgling as it carries twigs and bits of other nesting material to
the new home. The fledgling never gives up and the adult never gives
in. I cannot be sure if I am witnessing an appalling case of child
neglect or the weaning of a particularly lazy offspring. I have
never seen this type of behavior before. “
Charlie Patterson of Norwell commented on Doug’s observations:
“I suspect you are right on the "child
neglect" issue. This year we are up to our armpits in House Wrens. I
have three active houses and at least two of those are on their
second brood as noted by vigorous mating behavior and nesting
material seeking. We have fledglings all over the place.
“I noticed that the ones trying to start a second brood are
basically ignoring the fledglings. The third is still feeding them
and I think (all wrens kinda look alike) that they are feeding the
abandoned chicks too. There is wren song everywhere!”
I hope that you are enjoying the continued bird song in your yard,
and that you have a chance to get out and enjoy the migration as
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