Friday, August 21, 2009

Barn Swallows and Nests in the Car Wash

August 20, 2009 Barn Swallow Update.

Here are the chicks of the Farmhouse Porch Nest and they're growing by leaps and bounds. Last time we checked in all that could really be seen were their backs in the top of the nest.

Now we have more obvious eyes, which they are using to make sure I don't make a leap for the nest. You can readily see the eyes of the left chick, but did you notice the eye nest right? Look a third of the way down the white feather in the nest. See it?

Watch how the eyes subtly change over time in the sequence.

Right chick is obscuring her eye even further.

Still watching but lower.
Oops. Look at that! A very sleepy third chick has risen from the depths of the nest.
Third chick just can't keep her eyes open. Though the other two seem to be vigilant enough for all.

They all appear to be getting sleepy and Mom and Dad are beginning to do flyover buzzes of my head. Time to retreat.
August 22, 2009
What a difference a day makes!
Their faces have really filled out.

They've also begun to develop that fiercely focused expression of adult Barn Swallows.
Focus on the appendages just right of the right chick's head. What are they and who do they belong to?
I just realized that I'm missing a shot in the sequence. You'll just have to wait until tomorrow to see which one and what is happening. Tell you the truth, Barn Swallow chicks remind me very much of those animated bomber planes in cartoons of the 40s and 50s.
Left chick has faded into sleep which is what I should do soon. Though I wish someone would fly in and feed me now and again. Of course I don't know how I'd feel about a diet of bugs.

Here's word from Mai concerning the dialogue between she and John Blakeman on the last post--
Hi Donna,

After hearing from JB I thought many of your readers would be greatly interested in his comments, so am pleased you published our conversation! He is so knowledgeable, and has such a fascinating job at the Plum Brook Station -- I never would have known something as wonderful as this was going on if I hadn't known him. Thanks for sharing with us all.

How's kitty doing? Is she now strictly a house-kitty? And do you think you'll every be coming back to NYC? I miss hearing about your NYC adventures, altho that may be selfish, you may have found that you prefer life in Wisconsin!

Best wishes,

Hi Mai,

You’re welcome. And many thanks to John Blakeman for passing it along for all to share.

As to Pyewackit the cat, she is doing just fine and yes, she is a completely inside cat these days. In fact she shows absolutely no wish to leave the house at all-ever. If she is watching birds through the patio door and I open it to go out, she scampers to the other side of the kitchen and waits until I close the door before coming near it again. It looks to me that Pye is a cat who knows which side her cat chow is buttered on and is taking no chances that something might happen to turn her into a hungry foraging stray again. And that is just fine with me.

Do I prefer Wisconsin to New York? They both have things about them that I love. The real issue is my parent’s house. As we all know, the economy isn’t the best right now nor is it a grand time to sell a house. I own “most” of the house that my parents owned here in Wisconsin and someone needs to take care of things until it can be sold for a reasonable price. And that someone has turned out to be me. Flying back and forth frequently can add up, as can a landscaping service for mowing and winter care for snow shoveling. Normally I would have spent hawk season in NYC but this year I’d discovered the Ms and wanted to notate and observe a pair of rural hawks to compare with my urban hawks experiences. Though I still likely would have headed to the city for longer then I did this hawk season,( Remember I photographed and observed the Riverside nest earlier this year?) to visit my old haunts and the bonded pairs that I’ve watched nest all these years had it not been, that early on Charlotte and Junior abandoned their nest and Isolde and Norman didn’t appear to be nesting at all. Therefore I stuck with the Ms. Particularly since until almost fledging time I was the only watcher which meant if I left WI there would be a huge gap in the observations of my first readily accessible rural nest. I learned a huge amount which very much affected my thoughts on the perennial early fledging of urban eyasses and how that situation should be handled. So no I don’t prefer one place to another. It is more that I prefer the place at any given moment in which I can learn the most about our beautiful adaptable astounding Red-tailed hawks.

From Karen of RI, an observation--

Some sort of birds build nests up in the top of one of the washing bays in a do it yourself car wash near where I live. I have been assuming them were swallows, but haven't taken a good look.The nests seem to be up in a cranny between the inner horizontal roof and "the attic" so to speak, so I haven't actually seen the nest(s).It isn't a very busy car wash, but I would have though it would be too busy for them. Apparently not, since this is the second year I've seen them.I'm happy to say the elderly owners don't seem to mind the birds being there.

Fancy you should mention birds nesting in the car wash. Not long ago, I too was in a car wash. It was one of those models in which you use a brushed hose and scrub away on the vehicle yourself. I kept hearing the cheeping of chicks coming from high up the wall but I couldn’t see a nest. Hmmm. Then I saw a parent fly in. Then another parent bird fly by into the adjoining cubicle and pop down out of sight. They were Starlings. Starlings will use anything resembling a cavity for nesting purposes. In this case there was an about 8 inch gap between the overhanging roof and the wall. The wall itself was built with cement block and from the flights in and out it appeared that the concrete blocks had not been finished over on the top and the Starlings were nesting in them.

Of course your car wash birds could be another species but Starlings are the only ones that I have seen do it. They aren’t terribly picky.

As some of you may have heard there was a rather dreadful thunderstorm in NYC that did in a number of trees in Central Park.
Robin of Illinois kindly sent in this link for those who would like more information.

And in the same vein Karen Anne Kolling of Rhode Island wrote with her concern for the wildlife of Central Park--
I just read the news about the storm and trees down in central park. I hope Pale Male and Lola are okay, and the other birds, as well as the hawks elsewhere in the city... Any news?

Good question. I’ve been told that the known Red-tails that frequent Central Park have been accounted for. I am not surprised by this as these are savvy hawks. They wouldn’t allow themselves to be caught in the open in a storm like that if they could at all help it. They likely hunkered down in a sheltered spot, even possibly the lee side of a building, and waited it out, like the very smart birds that they are.
Donegal Browne

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