In my post of July 2018, I wrote about a Robin building a nest on the second floor window sill of the house and I watched what happened in the following three weeks. First the female was sitting on the nest , leaving only to get some food. Then we had three fledglings, begging for their food constantly. Although I watched for hours, I missed when the new brood left the nest, but nevertheless it was quite educational.
This year a new tenant has arrived. This time it was on the outside porch. We noticed some debris on the porch floor. It was a combination of mud and moss. When we looked up we could see that the nest builder was using a small outcrop of one of the pillars holding the roof. After many attempts the nest grew into an open cup, and leaves and grass were used for the side walls. After the nest was completed, I saw only the head of the architect protruding above the rim and determined that it was a Phoebe. They have a round head and a straight beek.
The male Phoebe was defending the nesting territory by singing, especially in the morning. After almost three weeks, we could see three heads popping over the rim of the nest and both parents were busy feeding the young. Each time when we entered the outside porch, the male started to sing warning the young to be quiet and us to stay away.
In the meantime they had grown so much that they did not fit in the nest anymore. One was usually sitting on top of the other two. And then the day arrived when the biggest of the three left the nest and the other two followed two or three days later.
We learned that Phoebes may have two broods per year and they may come back for another set of off springs. Their nest is therefore still on the pillar, but they have not come back yet.
Phoebes catch insects, mostly in mid-air, some are taken from foliage or from the ground. They also eat berries.
A couple of days later we found a nest on the ground in front of the barn. Although it is also built of mud and dried grass, it is much bigger and sturdier than a Phoebe's nest. It has to be. It was the nest of a barn swallow and it has to hold up to seven eggs. Usually the barn swallow will build the nest under the eaves of a barn; both, the male and the female are building the nest together. The male also participates in the incubation of the up to seven eggs and feeding the young. One or two additional birds, the pair's off springs from previous broods, may attend the nest. The young leave the nest in about three weeks after hatching. Barn swallows, too, may have another brood in a year.
Barn swallows feed on a wide variety of flying insects, beetles, wasps, winged ants and moths. They even catch spiders and snails. We enjoy watching them wheel in tight quick loops over the surface of our pond in the evenings, as they catch insects on the wing.
And then we found a third nest, which we cannot identify. It is small and unfinished. It might have been of a hummingbird, because it is so tiny, but we don't really know. Hummingbirds nests are partially identified by their diminutive size, but also by their finished appearance, often constructed of mosses and even spider webs. Unfortunately, this nest which had fallen from one of our spruce trees, had only been partially constructed before it fell.
We had another "tenant", but could not find his nest or should I say nests. Every morning he sang in front of the bathroom window for an hour. It is the house wren. The wren does not participate in nest building or feeding the young ones, but he serenades the female with his songs. After an hour the wren moved to the other side of the house and began singing there for an hour. I would not be surprised if he had two more stops to make, because wrens have more than one female and they are singing for all of them. The female builds the nest in odd places. Some time ago we found a nest behind the trim of a window frame.
It is quite interesting to study nests. Each bird has a different strategy to give their young a good start in life. At one point, you will be able to identify a bird in you back yard by looking at their nest. I am always delighted if I can match the nest to a bird which eventually I will see.
>This is about our journey from being Big City people to learning how to embrace a country lifestyle.
We bought an old farmhouse (built in the 1850's); we have hay fields and woods, streams, bridges and a long drive way. Our neighbors are far away. We are so far away that we have to go to the post office to get our mail. For us it has been paradise.