Friday, June 29, 2012

The Nestbuilders

A Baltimore Oriole gathering material to build a nest, Rock Cut Sate Park, Rockford, IL; 5/5/2012.
May is the month where one can find birds picking, pulling and gathering all sorts of nesting materials to get ready to lay eggs and raise their newest family. Today I'll feature a few photos of such birds caught in the act of pulling fiber out of plants and branches, picking cotton out of milkweed, and scooping up twigs and blades of grass to add to their nests.
A female Baltimore Oriole looking proud of the job she has done constructing their unique hanging basket nest, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/8/2011.
Baltimore Orioles especially look for long grasses and fiberous materials to build their unique hanging nests (Above and Below). The nest building is primarily the responsibility of the female Oriole. She looks for materials that must be strong enough to hold the weight of up to six eggs plus the bird lying on the eggs.  The female Oriole lays 3 to 6 pale blue eggs with dark marks. Incubation of the eggs last 12 to 14 days and the young birds will leave the nest in 12 to 14 days after hatching.
A close up of a different Oriole nest that I found just a few days ago in Black Hawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford,  IL; 6/26/2012.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher gathering nesting material, Nygren Wetlands, Rockton, IL; 5/12/2012.
Blue Gray Gnatcatchers (Above) will collect entirely different types of materials for their nests, which are quite small and shallow (Below) in the shape of a cup. These Gnatcatchers look for more cottony or fuzzy types of materials, such as from dandelions or thistles blossoms. In my research some experts use the term 'down' (reminiscent of goose down or duck down feathers) to describe the types of  materials that B-G Gnatcatchers like to use.
A Blue Gray Gnatcatcher finishing up its construction of its nest, Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/30/2012.
Their nests (Above) are usually saddled in between the fork of  two limbs, on a horizontal limb which serves as the foundation and an upright branch which becomes the side support.

One of my earlier photos: a female American Redstart weaving together her nest with spider silk, Rock Cut State Park, IL; 5/23/2010.
Another summer resident of Northern Illinois is the American Redstart. I was lucky to follow the flight path of a female Redstart at Rock Cut State Park as it flew from a stream into a nearby tree. After flitting around from branch to branch it eventually settled on its nest. Their nests have a similar cup-shape like the B-G Gnatcatchers, but are made with a tightly woven grasses, bark strips, hair, leaves, twigs, or mosses, which are glued together with spider silk. In the photo (Above) you can see that she has a firm grip of some spider silk in  her bill as she uses it to weave the nesting materials together.
A Field Sparrow gathering grasses for its nest, Black Hawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.
Like other avian species, it is the female Field Sparrow's duty to build the nest (Above), which is an open cup-shaped nest constructed almost exclusively of grasses and tend to be close to the ground on clumps at the base of shrubs.
More photos of birds gathering nesting materials below:
A House Wren with nesting materials in its bill, Colored Sands Forest Preserve, Shirland, IL; 5/12/2012.
A female Red-winged Blackbird getting ready to add to her nest, which could very well be for her 2nd brood of the season, Glacial Park, McHenry County, IL; 6/10/2012.
Red-winged Blackbirds are an early arrival to Northern Illinois, so they are already mating and nesting by mid April. It could be by early June, the R-W Blackbird (Above and Below) might already be starting a second nest for a second brood.
The same Red-winged Blackbird, Glacial Park, McHenry County, IL; 6/10/2012.
A Song Sparrow gathering grass stems for its nest, Black Hawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.

A White-breasted Nuthatch entring a tree cavity where it has likely built its nest, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/22/2011.
White-breasted Nuthatches (Above) will build their nests in natural tree cavities such as abandoned woodpecker holes, or holes they excavate themselves. They will also use nest boxes as in the very cool documentary of a brood of nuthatches that I located on youtube (Click on the Link Below).
Another bird that uses a tree cavity to build its nest, a Mountain Bluebird, Rocky Mountain Nat. Park; 7/8/2010.

A Yellow Warbler gathering milkweed fuzz for its nest, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/5/2012.
One of our early nest builders in Northern Illinois, an Eastern Phoebe with nesting grass in its bill, Rock Cut State Park; 4/23/2011
Trees along the Mississippi River that hold many nests of the Double-crested Cormorants, near Savannah, IL; 8/7/2011.
Two of Illinois' larger birds build very grand nests high up in trees. Both the Double-crested Cormorants (Above) and the Great Blue Herons (Below) build their nests in a community style (many together within the same tree or group of trees), made up largely of small dry branches. The nests average over a yard in diameter and have a central cavity almost a foot deep by two feet wide which is sometimes lined with twigs, moss, lichens, or conifer needles.

A dead tree bearing at least three nests of the Great Blue Heron, Phoenix, AZ; 12/26/2009.

Tomorrow I will feature birds which use man-made structures for its nesting abodes.

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