New Avian Friends?

Hmm, why was this nest so easy to see?

Hi folks. Sorry for the inadvertent hiatus; I had some technical and scheduling difficulties, but I am back now. I’ve been thinking a lot about birds, so I’ll just share a bit about what’s going on with them here, and write more later! More posts! Yay!

Nests, Part 1

This week I came across more bird nests, including the one in the photo above. It’s a very small nest, though you can’t tell that in the photo, with such pretty little eggs in it. I spotted it while riding my horse, Apache, around a hay pasture we usually don’t ride in.

It was really easy to see the nest, which had me confused. Don’t birds who nest on the ground usually hide the nests? As “Patchy” plodded around the field one more time, I realized what had happened: our ranch helper had mowed a path around the edges of the pasture so my neighbor and I could ride. The mower probably went over the nest, didn’t harm it, but DID reveal it. The rest of the pasture has lush grass about a foot high.

Anyway, I am sad that these eggs probably won’t make it, but I know we have plenty of sparrows here, so plenty of nests. By the way, I’m pretty sure these are lark sparrow eggs. We have plenty of those, plus savannah sparrows, and house sparrows (around the houses).

I just love the little bird head sillhouette in this photo!

Nests, Part 2

It’s usually not good news when your large piece of heavy equipment is not running. But in this case, at least one bird family is happy. For the past few  years, mockingbirds have insisted on nesting inside the arm of our front-end loader’s front end. This is not a great place to build a nest, if people are using the equipment.

Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Mockingbird’s happiness to be able to raise this bunch of babies through fledging, thanks to whatever is currently wrong with the machine. We saw the nestling right after it jumped out and was figuring out flying (actually, I almost stepped on it, and boy were Mom and Dad angry), kept the dogs away, and think all is well. Congratulations, my fine singing friends!

Birds do sometimes nest in odd places. Almost everyone has a funny wren nest story (we had to stop using our gas grill one year, so baby wrens could happen). But some birds  you never see nesting. Why’s that?

I’m a black vulture. Literally.

Mystery of the Black Vulture

I have no photo by me for this, because I prefer to not stop and investigate carrion. But here’s a public-domain facsimile.

Anyway, someone asked me this question, and I realized I didn’t know the answer: where do vultures nest?

Wow. I see black vultures and turkey vultures all the time around here. They are among our most common birds. But I have never seen a vulture nest, and never thought to look into it.

I mentioned the question to my sister, and she said, “Well, I know the answer! They hide the nests so no one can find them!” And she was right. Five bonus points to Canova!

According to my buds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Black Vultures usually nest in dark cavities such as caves, hollow trees, abandoned buildings, brush piles, thickets, and stumps. Pair reuse successful sites for many years.

…Black Vultures lay their eggs directly on the ground.

Well, no wonder. We have enough abandoned houses in Milam County to cover lots and lots of vulture nests!

And, I think that’s enough nest knowledge for one day. Back soon!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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