Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Green Heron, Sora and Virginia Rail juveniles, Easton

Thanks to a busy schedule, I have not had a chance to visit Lake Josephine in Easton in almost two weeks. Luckily several area birders have been keeping me up to date on the development of the Green Heron hatchlings and other birds of the marshes here.

Paul Cyr stopped by and checked the nest on the morning of July 23rd and got this wonderful set of pictures of the Green Heron nestlings. They would be only about 9 to 11 days old at the time these pictures were taken yet they are already up and out of the nest! My sources say these birds fledge and can fly by about three weeks so these birds will probably be leaving their natal bush by the first full weekend of August.

I also read that the juvies are excellent swimmers, which will be a handy skill as they try out their wings from this water-bound nest site!

Both adults continue to feed the young. The hatchlings stick their heads inside the parents bills and the adults regurgitate food for them. Here the male (with some new wing covert feathers) is being prompted by a nestling to offer up some goodness!

Paul also got some great shots of the juvenile Sora and Virginia Rails in the marsh.

This Virginia Rail is now almost adult sized. Hard to believe it was a fuzzy black chick a little more than two weeks ago.

A juvie Sora with a Virginia in the foreground. Two rail species in one shot!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fish River Lake, Nesting larids

Laurie and I took a paddle around Fish River Lake in T13/14R5 on
Sunday, 11 July. Though we started our drive out to the lake early, frequent
side explorations and bird distractions resulted in our lake tour
being a mid-day affair. The lake is located west of Route 11 and
northwest of Portage Lake.

Notable finds were a sizeable Common Tern colony (22 birds) on a small ledge. The agitated birds obviously had nests on the rock and I caught quick glimpses of larger, gray and fuzzy chicks. ( I later found out from Jon Greenlaw that terns have nested at this location for many years.) We gave the terns a wide berth and let the breeze carry us away from the rock.

We pulled in behind a small island nearby, so I could watch the terns without disturbing them. While sneaking through the thick brush on the islet, I discovered an apparent Herring Gull nest on a ledge outcrop under the branches of a spruce tree. The nest was on the highest vantage point of the rock and was really just a shallow depression in the woody duff and moss under the trees. The nest contained only a few gull feathers to hint at the identity of its creator.

Before retreating, I snapped a couple quick photos of the nest ....

and the handsome olive-with-umber spotted egg.

I was surprised I didn't notice the Herring Gull doing any sort of a distraction display or calls when I unknowingly approached its nest. It was, however keeping a close watch of me with its cold yellow eye....

While I'm sure coastal birders would yawn about gull nesting "news", it was the first Herring Gull nest I've found in Aroostook Co.

There were also 40+ Ring-billed Gulls on the lake but these appeared
to be summering non-breeders. These were loafing on a rock bar mid lake well away from the breeding birds on the north end.

Of course, there were the expected Common Loons, Bald Eagle, Common Mergansers as well as a couple of immature Double crested Cormorants loafing on ledge in the south basin. Good birds all, but the larid show was most interesting to this land locked birder

Bird song is beginning to wane in the north as well, but there was a
decent bunch of vocal land birds on the trip to the lake. A singing male Fox Sparrow near the Beaver Brook Bridge was a nice surprise. We heard twelve species of warblers with the best among them being Canada and Blackburnian. Boreal Chickadees, a pair of deep-woods Chimney Swifts and a steady chorus of thrush song were also enjoyed.

Good birding!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

American Robins fledge from nest in Presque Isle

After one of the best nesting seasons in several years, fledgling birds are leaving nests across northern Maine.

Paul Cyr kept a close eye on the progress of the American Robin nest in his shop this summer. He sent over this fantastic photo series showing the rapid development of the hatchlings into fledglings... After two weeks of incubation by the female, the eggs begin to hatch.
And they're hungry.

By day three there are five nestlings. Their eyes are closed and have only a few wisps of natal down on them.

On day six the eyes are still closed but the feather tracts on their head wings and back are starting to develop.

Day nine shows eyes are opening and strong feather growth on all but the runt of the brood. The less developed chick is forced out of the nest bowl by its more fully developed nestmates.

On the eleventh day there were only four nestlings.... eyes are fully open and juvenal plumage is has covered the young birds.

By day twelve the youngsters have grown so big they crowded yet another nestling out of the nest. The fledging begins...

On the morning of the fourth Paul reported the nest was empty and the four fledglings were ungainly making their way around his yard. Both parents will continue to feed these for a couple weeks and then they'll be on their own. The parents will have plenty of time to start the process again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Juvenile Virginia Rails at Lake Josephine, Easton

Paul Cyr called yesterday to let me know I'd missed a great show at Lake Josephine in Easton on Thursday morning. Paul started his July at the crack of dawn and was photographing wildlife in one of the marshes near the lake when one of the breeding Virginia Rails emerged from the cattails with her brood of 6 fresh and fuzzy young!

Paul said the adult (presumed female) came out to edge of the thick vegetation and began to feed and call to the chicks. One by one they popped out and began to follow their mom around and nibble at her offerings. Paul got some great pictures of these rarely-seen juveniles of a rarely-seen species.

The leggy black young paraded along behind their mother but Paul said they appeared so young and inexperienced that they barely figured out to navigate around the debris or how to forage for bugs.

Paul was able to get a shot of five of the six young in one frame. Click on the image to enlarge it and count them for yourself.

Thanks to Paul for more great bird photos for us to enjoy.