Who’s Nesting

A Cooper’s Hawk was seen carrying prey on the 7th of June. The hawk appeared to be a female and was flying in the direction of the pines which surround the Ellerbee Creek Railway tracks near the train tunnel. This is the area in which Cooper’s Hawks nested last year. The fact that this bird was carrying prey, and was a female, seems to indicate that there were young Cooper’s Hawks in those pines waiting to be fed.

I’ve yet to see juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the Bird Feeder Exhibit. There have been reports of recently fledged birds coming to feeders in South Carolina and in the Sandhills of North Carolina but it should be a week or so before we start seeing them here.

The Belted Kingfisher has returned. As was true last year, there was a four-week period when a kingfisher was neither heard nor seen in the Wetlands. The only explanation that I can come up with for the female’s absence is that it was off sitting on eggs, although both male and female share incubation duties, which last about 24 days. I think, though, that the female does the bulk of the egg sitting.

On June 13, I saw a kingfisher carrying a fish in its bill. This is not an unusual occurrence, for sure. However, the bird did not swallow the fish on site, which is usually the case, but was headed off to the west when last seen. What does that mean? It probably means that there are hungry little kingfishers sitting in a dark burrow somewhere along a stream bank (Ellerbee Creek?) waiting and squawking with bills agape.

Fledgling Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, Song Sparrows, and Brown-headed Cowbirds have all been seen at the Bird Feeder Exhibit or elsewhere around the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop, the cowbirds being hosted by Eastern Towhee and Pine Warbler foster parents.

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