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Nest sitings

Posted by: charlotte-chang | July 10, 2009 | No Comment |

Amy and I have been conducting various habitat assessments and multiple avian community censuses in the past week. Our habitat assessments entail the following: we go to a 12 x 12 foot plot in a predetermined location in one of the four distinct habitat types and identify all of the plants that we see. It hasn’t been easy! We’ve seen many novel and interesting plants, especially in the Ash and Cottonwood riparian zones where there is more water and therefore a wide range of different types of grasses, forbs (non-graminoid plants), and shrubs.

Our bird census methodology is similar to the nationwide Christmas Bird Count survey–we’re essentially exhaustively identifying all bird species encountered within the perimeter of our MAPS station. We’ve been walking along the net path to ensure coverage of the general area, and we’ve had some very unexpected and exciting sitings.

On July 7, 2009 (Tuesday), we saw a group of sharp-tailed grouse fledglings–7 in total–following their mother. We also saw two American kestrels, a Baltimore oriole, Common Nighthawks, Killdeer, and an unidentifiable large white bird that may be a short-eared owl. We also saw a Golden eagle that was near our site last week on our way out of the Cornwell Ranch property. Today (July 10, Friday), we saw Field sparrows, a spotted towhee, American goldfinches, Brown thrashers, and a large group of Brown-headed cowbirds (8 in all) huddled in a buffalo berry shrub against the drizzle (it started raining at 8:05 and ended at 8:25).

Perhaps our most exciting find though is the three nests that have been sighted. Three weeks ago, I found a Western meadowlark nest near our net 3 when I was following two killdeer making calls. There were originally 4 eggs, and now, there are 4 hatchlings–it’ll be great to be able to track the success of these little guys through the season. There are also two House wren nests (and I bet many more waiting to be found) at our site, both near net 2. One of them has 5 fledglings, fully feathered, and still getting fed by their mother. Life’s sweet for these little birds!

Tomorrow we’ll be going bird banding and it’ll be really interesting to see if we catch any of these House wren juveniles.

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