FIELDS POND AUDUBON NOTEBOOK

Finding birds’ nests makes summer come alive

Posted June 26, 2011, at 9:27 p.m.

For most birds, summer is the time for nesting. Birds make nests, mate, sit on their eggs and raise their young. It’s fun to look for active nests.

I was birding with Kathy Burns when she found a nest made by a northern parula warbler. Parula nests are built in “old man’s beard” — long, gray-green lichen that hangs off branches of a spruce or a fir tree.

From 25 feet away, we watched for 10 minutes. A male parula flew in, and the female came out of the nest. All day long the pair will take turns feeding their young. We also noted that they used two different holes to get into the nest — perhaps a front and a back entry to the nest.

At Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, we walked on the trails and found an Eastern wood-peewee on its nest. This bird gets its name from the whistling “pee-ah-wee” song it sings. It is related to the Eastern phoebe.

This peewee nest was 20 feet high on a horizontal branch next to the trunk. I once found a peewee nest that had fallen to the ground. The nest was a thick-walled cup about three inches across, well covered with lichen.

I went to the Dorothea Dix Park with Laura Giebfried, and on the path, we watched two chickadees flying around with insects in their bills. I knew that there were young here somewhere. A stump with a hole, two and a half feet high looked likely for a nest. We were too close to the stump, so we went on down the trail to the Penobscot River.

Coming back, we were careful to stop 20 feet back from the stump. We stood there for about four minutes, when a chickadee arrived with mosquitoes in its bill. Quite soon, the chickadee went into the hole, fed its young and came out.

Another day, I was birding with Hope Brogunier, and we saw an Eastern kingbird go into a dead paper birch tree. The kingbird sat on a nest and we could see only the end of its tail sticking out. I know there were eggs or young in there.

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