Some of them, like the neighborhood wood thrush and red-eyed vireo, are just getting started. Others, like American robins, Carolina wrens and mourning doves, have already fledged their first broods and started in on their seconds.
Our first indication the 2011 nesting season was underway happened back in late March when a pair of Carolina chickadees started carrying mouthfuls of moss and lint into the nest box I had erected in the front yard last summer.
Long after we figured the babies would finally emerge from their cozy womb, the chickadees left the nest box for the environs surrounding the house. Unfortunately, in the two weeks since, the only chickadees Sue and I have seen have been the adults and they aren't behaving like they are feeding fledglings. In fact, it appears they've gone straight to courtship behavior, leading me to the sad conclusion that the fledglings perished shortly after their maiden flight.
That would not be unusual. Fledgling mortality in songbirds is extraordinarily high for many species. For those that conduct long-distance migrations (Carolina chickadees do not), mortality can be as high as 70 percent before the end of the first year.
What happened to our nestlings? It's impossible to say. Maybe they emerged from the nest box just hours, or even minutes, before we were hit by one of those strong spring thunderstorms that have been rolling through. It's also quite possible they fell easy prey to one of the feral cats that roam the neighborhood.
One thing is certain, those little chickadees had a great life before their ultimate demise. I opened the nest box last week to clean it out in preparation of a second nesting attempt and had a chance to examine the elegant little structure the adult chickadees had built for their first go-round.
|Swedish memory foam.|
|A good tree for blue jays.|
|Blue jay nest|
The hummingbird feeders started to get some action last week and now, weeks after the first wave of male ruby-throateds passed through on their way north, we have representation from both sexes, indicating the breeding season for eastern North America's tiniest bird is about to begin.
May they all have great success and raise babies that are swift and strong.