Monday, March 7, 2022

The first nests of 2022!!

I've been back in Portland for about a week and have encountered only flocks -- foraging and behaving un-interested in nesting.  No chases.  No little wing-flutters of romantic interest.  Nothing but food, food, food albeit in smaller flocks than those found in the winter.  We've found some old banded friends hanging out together.  That's been rewarding, but no nests.   

This is typical of March in these wet and raw climes.  Who wants to build a soggy nest on a soggy day?  Better to wait for a nice sunny one.  Which is what we had this afternoon.   On a sunny day, even when it's cold, food is easy to find.  A nap can be taken in the warm rays.  I have found that sunny early afternoons are prime bushtit nest-building time during this unpredictable time of the year.  

And so it was no big surprise when my assistant, Amit, found the first nest of the year around 1PM.  It's a loose hanging sack -- somewhere between a Stage 2 and a Stage 3 -- entangled in the lower branches of a very large juniper and only about head high.  Nice!  The unbanded pair was building rapidly, but quit around tea-time when all good bushtits without completed nests return to their flocks to forage and prepare to find a cozy, safe place to huddle together for the evening.  It's one reason early bushtit nests take so long to build --- the work day is short.  

The next nest was only a Stage 1.  It was a thick and sloppy tangle of spiderweb fixed to the small fork of a branch hanging on the very lower branches of a hemlock.  If it survives, it will be an easy nest to watch and to band at.  If it survives.  Already the goldfinches were there pilfering spider web.  The bushtits were annoyed and tried to chase them off but, unfortunately, the goldfinches made off with about half the load.  Only time will tell if this means the nest-site will be abandoned. Even if it is, it's likely the pair (also unbanded) will build nearby.  

Fingers crossed!! 


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