Friday, June 15, 2012

Rambling, Nesting and Molting

I've done some birding this week and hit one of my patch spots Wednesday despite the off and on showers as I really enjoy birding in the rain.  With the wet weather we've been having, I've had to resort to wearing my boots the past couple weeks which has worked out nice as it allows me to tromp through mud and other areas including the trail in the picture above that's been flooded for all of June.

Eventually the rain subsided as birds started to come out of hiding including the female Brown-headed Cowbird in the picture above.  She'd be hanging out with the many Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.  All of the blackbirds would be making a racket, especially the fledglings which made it confusing on the ears but one call would cause me to do a careful scan and would be glad that I did.

Because in the midst of the clan would be this very wet and immature Baltimore Oriole.  What was most interesting is the bird would remain vocal the entire time I watched.  While it wasn't experienced enough to get any of the flute type notes, these orioles are known for, its voice has already matured enough to sound like a Baltimore Oriole and with more practice I think he'll have it down by next spring.

The Eastern Kingbirds would be out as well and vocal as always.  I'd see one land in a tree nearby that was already occupied by a Field Sparrow and Gray Catbird I'd wait for the Kingbird to harass the others as they're known for being instigators but he'd be as gentle as a lamb.

Another bird I never tire of seeing, the Cedar Waxwing checking me out as I did the same in return.

I'd make my way toward the area the Barn Swallows are at but they'd be nowhere in site so poked around for a bit and would see an old nest in a sorry looking tree and would see something moving around in it so got my binoculars out for a better look.  Sure enough something was in it and that something would turn out to be.
Why a Black-capped Chickadee of course!  What did you expect a robin?   Its partner would be nearby as I watched the chickadee doing something with the nest with nesting material in its bill.  If I didn't know any better I would have sworn it was nest building but knew it was impossible due to the fact these birds are cavity builders and even if they weren't no bird in their right mind would build a nest that unprotected.  Both would eventually fly off toward the pine trees for more nest material so I'm guessing these birds are part of the "green movement" that's very trendy right now and were doing their part to recycle.

 I'd witness more bizarre nest building again Wednesday morning on my way up the walkway to work.  I'd see a House Sparrow on the ground and it appeared to be eating something and would realize it was a Rock Pigeon.  I'd grab my camera from my bag for a record shot and by the time I got close enough for a picture, off the male HOSP would go with a bill full of fine feathers from the pigeon.

I'm pretty confident it was for its nest as I saw it go toward the area where I know at least two of them are nesting and what else would a bird want with pigeon feathers!  As you can see the bird is plucked clean.  I went back later in the afternoon to see if I could spot the HOSP in action as I really wanted a picture, but didn't stick around long out of fear of getting caught in the act by a co-worker.  Yes I'm the odd ball in the office with my many crazy hobbies, but getting caught taking pictures of a dead pigeon would take the cake and that's saying a lot!
The House Sparrow nest.  While I am not a huge fan by any means of HOSP's I do have to respect their ingenuity and adaptability as who else would make a home in a hole in the wall lined with pigeon feathers.

And speaking of dead pigeons, I'd check up on the Peregrine Falcons Thursday on my run for iced tea.  Construction was heavy so would only see the male much to my frustration as I'm really anxious to see how many chicks they had and believe they should be at the age where they'd be out in view (going through my records for dates from previous years).  I can only handle going there for short periods of a time so don't know how they managed to set up shop there, especially the female who is so protective of her chicks.

While there I did see another family of birds nesting directly above the Peregrine homestead and that would be another set of House Sparrows.  Not only are they adaptable but ballsy that's for sure.  HA.  I'm wondering if these two wait for dad to be done with dinner and then pluck what's left for its nest.  The Wild Kingdom of downtown Worcester I don't think anyone notices but me.

I'd also do a little birding Thursday morning before work and head to Institute Park after Rick's sighting of the Black-crowned Night Heron Wednesday afternoon.

I'd strike out on that, but did see the resident Great-blue Heron, a lone Double-crested Cormorant, the Mute Swan family unit, two Spotted Sandpipers and of course the Mallards.

My highlight would be a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a flag pole that I thought would make for a very cool picture.

I'd get home Thursday after work and weed my lettuce bed and look up to see a small kettle of Turkey Vultures directly above.
And the first thing I'd notice (besides none of them being a black, was the molting most were experiencing.  Nice to see them back around my yard after last weeks absence with all that rain.

And last but not least my other hobby-FOOD.  I don't eat a lot of bread so that loaf I baked this past weekend was starting to go stale and instead of wasting it I decided to make croutons instead.  Really easy and all I did was pour melted butter, sea salt, pepper, romano cheese, garlic powder and herbs de provence on them and give them a toss and bake them at 250 for two hours.

And this would be the end result.  As you can see the lettuce in my garden is doing very well this year and I'm eating like a rabbit as it grows overnight seriously!

And since I'm looking for clever ways to dress up my salad, I decided to use up some peccorino/romano cheese that's near its expired date so instead of tossing it, I decided to get clever.

And bake them for more added crunch to my numerous salads.  This is super easy too and all you need to do is use a veggie peeler to slice the cheese in fine, thin wedges, I then sprinkled some fresh rosemary and thyme on them compliments of my herb garden, popped them in the oven for 4 minutes and instant yum!  Not only good on salad but tomato soup as well as all by themselves if your'e in the mood for low carb snacking.

Take care all.

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