Bluebird Chicks Curious About The World, May 21, 2022

Today is day 15 for our bluebird chicks. They’re stretching their wings, jockeying for position in an ever tighter space and they’re beginning to peek out of the door of the box to see what’s in store for them. They could fledge as soon as Monday.

We’re watching eastern bluebirds in a nest box with a camera installed to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

Bluebird Chicks Testing Their Wings, May 20, 2022

Today is day 14 for our baby bluebirds. They’re active, fidgeting in the nest and testing their wings. Haven’t seen mom around the yard today, but dad has been working overtime hauling in groceries. The chicks are getting loud. Their box is mounted on the deck at the front of the house, they’re easily heard in my office at the back of the house.

A pair of tree swallows explored the second box on the deck, but a third swallow objected.

We’re watching eastern bluebirds in a box with a camera built in to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

Day 13 With The Bluebird Chicks, May 19, 2022

The chicks have progressed to testing their wings. Things look like they’re getting cramped in the nesting box. The chicks should be with us until at least Monday.

We’re watching eastern bluebirds nesting in a box that has a camera installed to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

Day 12 With The Bluebird Chicks, May 18, 2022

Take a look at how big the chicks have gotten! They all seem to be doing well. They could fledge as soon as Monday, although it is likely they’ll take another couple days.

We’re watching eastern bluebirds in a nesting box with a camera installed to allow us to watch without disturbing the birds.

Day 11 With The Bluebird Chicks, May 17, 2022

All five chicks are doing well. Dad seems be enjoying the mealworms I put out for himself, haven’t seen him bring any in to the chicks. Our tree swallows are back, swooping around the yard and the other box on the deck.

We’re watching eastern bluebirds in a nesting box with camera installed that lets us watch without disturbing the birds.

Day Ten With The Baby Bluebirds, May 16, 2022

All five chicks seem to be doing well. They’re jockeying for position in the nest, feeding eagerly and growing rapidly.

We’re watching eastern bluebird chicks in a nesting box with a camera installed to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

More Of The Usual Suspects, May 15, 2022

Last week’s beautiful spring weather let me head out in the kayak six times in various ponds and streams around the area. There is lots of wildlife activity going on, with plenty of photo ops.

A North American porcupine foraging along the water’s edge.

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Geese are still raising a ruckus, though they’re beginning to quiet down a bit as they’ve claimed their territories and have eggs or goslings.
Goslings are still sticking very close to their parents.
A wood duck drake showed himself – briefly – before taking flight.
A trio of mallard drakes pose nicely on a log.
But, every family has that one kid that doesn’t want to pose nicely.
Kingbirds are still sorting out who gets what territory and the number of kingbirds has grown greatly in the last week. Dragonflies have started showing up for the spring, giving the kingbirds nice targets for a meal.
This little olive-sided flycatcher is a deceptive one. He repeatedly called ‘quick, free beer!’ But, not only did he refuse to provide said beer, he refused to dispense beverages of any sort.
I got lucky and noticed a chickadee flying into a hold in a stump at the water’s edge. I got to watch both chickadees as they worked to improve the hole for their nest.
Both chickadees in the pair would fly into the hole and disappear for a few seconds before flying out with some debris they didn’t want in their nest.
A male yellow-bellied sapsucker working his sap line. Sapsuckers bore holes in living trees. They’ll return to the holes to feed on the sap and any insects trapped in the sap.
A swamp sparrow foraging along the shoreline.
There is lots of loon activity on one pond. I think there is a pair that have claimed the lake, but they’ve faced several challengers for the territory. One morning there were eight loons on the pond. So far, I’ll I’ve seen a fairly peaceful dispute. The loons circle each other and occasionally display to try to drive the other loons away. This is enough to settle some loon disputes, other times there can be a fight to the death.
One of the loons displaying.
This is one of the loons that was involved in the territory dispute. It has decided to leave.
One of the loons on the pond came over to have a look at me.
The loon apparently found me not worthy of interest and gave a stretch before heading back to the other loons.
One morning the pair of loons on the pond seemed to be searching for real estate to build their nest. They’ll explore along the shoreline and hummocks in marshy areas. They’ll occasionally poke at the brush, while having a quiet conversation. Eventually, the male will decide on a spot for the nest.
One of the loons with water dripping off his bill after pulling his head out of the water.
What I think is the resident pair of loons on the pond had a peaceful morning foraging on the pond.

Toadapalooza! Toad Mating Season Is Here

Spring takes a while coming to the North Country. A couple of pretty good signs that the risk of snow has passed is turtles coming out to bask in large numbers and American toads gathering to mate. I recently ran across a knot of about 200 toads getting together to find mates.

An American toad sitting on a log in the water near a gathering of toads looking for mates.

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A male American toad calling to attract a mate. Toads inflate their dewlap to give a shrill trilling call to attract females.
Toads gather in groups in response to the male’s call. Here’s a toad floating not far from the brush pile where the toads have gathered.
A toad hopping out of the water onto a log.
Adult toads live most of their lives on land, coming to the water to mate and lay eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles which will develop into toads.
The male in the foreground was sitting on a log calling when he was approached by another male.
Male toads try to grab onto any other passing toads to find a mate, sort of like a every frat party. If they realize they’ve grabbed another male, they’ll let go and move on.
male grasps the female from behind. She’ll lay her eggs in the water, he’ll fertilize them as she lays them.
A head on view of a pair of toads mating.
Sometimes many males will try to mate with a single female. They’ll grab on where they can, making a toad ball.
It was hard to tell what was going on with this toad ball. I think there were five toads involved when I found it.
The males will keep trying to improve their grip and to knock the other males off of the female. It is hard to tell who is whom while they wrestle.
The males continue their struggle to get closest to the female and drive the other males away. And, here, the toad in the foreground is a newcomer to the ball.
Take your best guess for how many toads are in the ball. They stayed together long enough that I began to worry about the female at the bottom of the pile drowning.

Day Nine With The Bluebird Chicks, May 15, 2022

We’re having a rainy morning here in Newbury. That hasn’t kept mom and dad from their appointed rounds. They’ve been out foraging for the chicks busily this morning.

We’re watching eastern bluebird chicks in a nest inside a nesting box with a camera installed to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

Day Eight With The Bluebird Chicks, May 14, 2022

The chicks seem to be thriving, they’re growing quickly. With the nice weather, we’ve started sitting on the deck, putting us ~20 feet from the box. Mom sat and thought a couple minutes the first time she returned to the nest, then just decided to ignore us. Dad goes through Mission Impossible set of stunts to throw us off when he’s headed to feed the chicks. He’ll sit on the perch in the yard I provided, scoot to the azaleas under the box, then head for the roof over the deck before outwitting us and sneaking into the box.

Hummingbirds have been back for about a week now. There’s been an ongoing dispute over who gets to claim the feeder on the deck. I haven’t seen the tree swallows for several days.

Sorry to miss yesterday’s update, just too many things to do with too little time. I’ll have some more of the usual suspects soon along with a toad mating gathering.

We’re watching eastern bluebird chicks in a nesting box that has a camera installed to let us watch without disturbing the birds.

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