There are still two pairs of Hooded Mergansers present in the Wetlands. There is one pair of Canada Geese present.
Red-tailed Hawks continue to be seen daily and Cooper’s Hawks have been noticed flying and perching in the vicinity of the previous year’s nest site. And, as mentioned above, Red-shouldered Hawks are once again showing up in the Wetlands.
Eastern Phoebes are calling regularly in and around the Wetlands. Phoebes nest on ledges. I’ve witnessed the birds investigating potential nest sites both under the boardwalk and in the vending area near the Red Wolf Enclosure. There are numerous crossbeams under the boardwalk for the phoebes to build a nest upon. The structure that houses the vending machines also offers many suitable ledges.
An American Crow was seen carrying nesting material on 1 March. Fish Crows had been seen (and heard) throughout the period.
The Brown-headed Nuthatches, which last month had so diligently excavated nest holes in a Loblolly Pine along the path between the entrances to Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild (see Brown-headed Nuthatches, Explore the Wild Journal, February 16-28, 2009), have apparently presented the holes to, or have been evicted by, a pair of Carolina Chickadees. In the images at left you can see a chickadee in the process of renovating one of the holes by first entering the hole, then exiting with a beak full of wood chips from the cavity’s interior.
During the first few days of this period, two Brown-headed Nuthatches were spotted working on a hole in a dead pine behind the vending area next to the Red Wolf Enclosure. They were not seen at that location during the second week of March. Are these the same two nuthatches that bored the holes for the chickadees? Have they abandoned this new hole too?
There have been numerous reports over the past several weeks of large numbers of American Robins throughout North Carolina; the robins are on the move north. So, it’s no surprise that hundreds of American Robins joined the already present, and equally numerous, Cedar Waxwings in an assault on the Museum’s hollies which began at the end of February (see Cedar Waxwings, Explore the Wild Journal, February 16-28, 2009). The birds were mainly concentrating on the hollies along the side entrance to the Museum’s main building, although few hollies anywhere on the grounds were immune to the onslaught (two trees out in front of the Museum seem to have been ably defended by a Northern Mockingbird, with most of its berries intact). Some of you may have noticed that all of the berries are missing from the small hollies behind the Ornithopter. The hollies in front of the Ornithopter were spared due to the human traffic through the area, the birds being reluctant to feed where people frequently pass. By the end of the first week in March, the waxwings had departed and only a handful of robins presently remain on site.
The first Red-winged Blackbird of the season appeared on the 7th of March. This lone male was seen and heard singing from a willow in the Wetlands.
Two Pine Siskins were observed at the Bird Feeder Exhibit during the period. Eight of those slender finches were seen in an elm tree behind the Sailboat Pond on the 3rd of March. It won’t be long before they leaves us.