Friday, May 27, 2005

About the only time I can see the Violet-green Swallow in the nestbox these days is when she pauses in the opening before taking off for another flight. Even then all that is visible are her wingtips and tail. Lots of stray feathers now moving around in the box.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Violet-green Swallow has been bringing in feathers for the past several days. The rim of the nest cup is right at top of this photo. Maybe when she starts incubating eggs (which should happen soon) the pile of grass will settle a little lower so we can see her up there.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Even though their eating habits may be disgusting to us, Turkey Vultures are still very interesting as birds. This one, perched on a post in a Tillamook Co. pasture today, permitted an unusually close-up view of its feathers. They were shedding the rain like a shingled roof.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Black Phoebe is building a nest near the site where a pair nested successfully in 2002 and again in 2003. Today a single bird was adding lining material of fine root hairs and plant fibers. The mud exterior appears to be completed. Unfortunately, there is only one bird present at this time, and also unfortunately, the overhanging sod seems likely to fall into the river, bringing the nest down with it. The nest, and the bird on it, are faintly visible in the center of the circle shown here. A common species farther south, the Black Phoebe is uncommon in northern Oregon, and this occurrence in Yamhill Co. may be the northernmost recorded nesting of the species to date.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Well... we have a problem. This Violet-green Swallow seems to be intent on closing our window into her nestbox. Maybe after she has eggs in the nest, I'll take the risk of removing some grass. If I do it now she might abandon this project. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 16, 2005

She alternates between episodes of very active building and very still moments of rest, as though she is getting the feel of the nest, deciding on the right time to bring in the finishing touch, soft feathers for the lining.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I wonder how she will know when she has enough grass in the nestbox.

Friday, May 13, 2005

This was a busy day for the female Violet-green Swallow. I'm guessing she brought in about 200 grass stems since 7:00 a.m. and on each trip she usually made a few twisting gyrations to begin shaping the cup of the nest. I'm marveling once again at what instinctive behavior can do, especially if this is the first nest this lady has made.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Keeping an eye on me, this California Quail was watching over his flock not far from where the dragonfly landed.

I met this dragonfly this morning. Unfortunately, I don't know the name, and I don't yet have the book. Anyway, the name wasn't needed to make the encounter memorable.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Staying with the Swallow theme... the male Tree Swallow brightens any cloudy day.

Friday, May 06, 2005

After spending most nights of the past year (presumably) sleeping in the open air, some instinct has pulled the female Violet-green Swallow back into a box for the night. This drastically enhanced photo was taken at 8:13 this evening.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Visualizing. I think that's what the lady in the nestbox was doing today. Visualizing eggs. As far as I know, she entered only once today, and did not add any nesting material. But she did try out different positions in an imaginary nest. It will be a drastic change for a bird that spends most of its life on the wing in spacious, airy places.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

There was a flurry of nestbuilding activity around mid-day today in the Violet-green Swallow nestbox. The female brought in several large grass stems and at least one feather, then spent time trying out different arrangements and a variety of possible incubating positions. I now can see that her face appears lighter through the camera than when I see her perched on the wire above my driveway.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Today, for the first time, I saw both the male and female Violet-green Swallows in the nestbox together. I saw the female bring in another beetle today, also. Could it be they are bringing in predatory insects to control other potential insect pests, as has been suggested?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

This beetle was brought into the nestbox by the male Violet-green Swallow, along with at least three others that appeared to be the same. They are about 1/4 inch long. This one managed to escape from the box, and now I'm wondering what name it goes by and where the Swallow found it.

One of the benefits of birding is that it often puts you in place to see other things happening in the natural world. Yesterday I watched this coyote catch and devour a mouse or vole, all within 60 seconds.