Saturday, June 25, 2011


We are always looking for nests this time of year. The last couple of years, we have found robin nests and the girls have had the chance to watch the whole sequence of eggs, incubation, hatching, fledgling and flight. We were pretty disappointed this year when we didn't find one and then! I stumbled across a yellow throat nest while clearing brush down by the creek. Here's a stock photo.

The yellow throat is a little swamp warbler that builds its nest out of grasses and in grasses and thickets. It is a sneaky little bird and you rarely if ever see them. They are all around in the grasses, willows and nine bark that cover the low areas around the creek. I went out for a walk by the creek late last evening and their scritchy little warning 'crik' was all around me. I was certainly near some nests, but they are impossible to see without clearing a bunch of brush.

The one that I found is down by the head of the oxbow where the path down to the old beach goes. It is a deep-bowled, fist-sized nest of old grasses and the mother disappears down inside it when she is on the eggs or hatchlings. The eggs were a lovely white speckled with red (me) or black (everyone else.) Mizu and I are both able to sneak up and see the mother on the nest. The girls aren't quite quiet enough. Unlike a robin, who will explode out of her nest, the mother yellow throat disappears back into the grasses soundlessly. The last couple of times I've been by to look at the nest, she has remained on it for a moment, opening her mouth as if to be fed. I wondered if the male fed the sitting female. (Subsequent reading frowns on that theory; the males seem to be a fairly dissipated, philandering bunch of pretty boys.) Here's the eggs:

Day before yesterday, the girls and I went down to look at the eggs at the outset of a hike with Pop. Hatchlings! They must have just come out that morning, for they were pathetic little wrinkles of pink with huge gray bulging blind lid-covered eyes and mad scientist tufts of gray feathers emerging randomly across their bodies. When they heard me whispering to Lucie, two of the four craned their awkward necks skyward and silently opened yellow beaks for a tidbit. Here they are (a bit blurry):

If you go to look at them, watch out! There's a giant dog poop in the path.

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