Nesting season is still going strong. A pair of green herons has taken up residence in a willow tree in the wetlands, great-crested flycatchers seem to be using a wood duck nest box for what is probably their second brood of the season, and many other bird species are proceeding with their annual attempts at increasing the bird population.
Green herons have built a nest in a black willow within easy view of the main Wetlands Overlook. In fact, in 2013, 2014 and again this year, the same tree was used. In both 2013 and 2014, there were two green heron nests in our wetlands. Both were successful in 2013 and both failed the following year. In 2013, seven young were reared.
This year’s heron nest was started on June 24 and by the 28th incubation had begun. I noticed only one egg in the nest on the 28th of June, but I spied another pale blue egg a few days later.
Incubation is about three weeks for the herons and the birds are in the nest a little over two weeks after hatching. I’ll be watching their progress daily, if not hourly.
While watching the herons fly back and forth to and from the nest carrying twigs and sticks, I noticed something odd about the wood duck nest box which sits in a tree near the south side of the wetlands. The large entrance hole seemed blocked by some kind of object. I raised my camera and zoomed in full. There was a bird in the entrance hole on the nest box. Great-crested flycatcher. Over the next few days I’d see one or two of these large flycatchers on or near the nest box each time I passed the wetlands.
Great-crested flycatchers nest in tree cavities, and, I’ve seen them explore this same nest box in past years. In the past, I’d never actually witnessed what I would consider evidence that they were nesting in the box. It looks, though, that they are indeed nesting there now. They’ve been in and out of the nest box, sitting in the entrance hole, sitting atop the nest box, and perching in the trees above the nest box.
Familiar to everyone, Americans robins often nest very close to where we humans live. Backyard shrubs and trees, sheds, and even front porches are favorite places in which to nest for the ubiquitous robin. I found one high up in a loblolly pine here at the museum. There’s something special about finding a robin’s nest away from human habitation.
Keep a sharp eye out for birds flying to and from their nests. They’ll often carry something in their bills on the trip to the nest (nest material or food for the young). They may carry out a fecal sac on the outgoing flight. Don’t approach the nest too closely, but do observe. It can be a very rewarding experience to observe the nesting process.