Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spring is over, but summer hasn't started

Let's start with the big news from Central Park: the Warbling Vireos have hatched!

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Warbling Vireo feeding nestling, Central Park
Warbling Vireo feeding nestling

The hatching happened over the weekend while I was sick, but I was able to get a couple of nice photos of the nestlings being fed today. I'm pretty sure there are at least two nestlings, and this species usually lays four eggs, so they might be more.

It was interesting watching the nest. It seems to work just as I've read: most of the feeding is done by the female, though the male does some and is always nearby guarding the area. What happens is, he'll give a short burst of song, then fly in to quickly check the nest, and fly off; sometimes he'll sing again after flying out. The female arrives a minute or so later and does a more thorough job of feeding.

Also, the intervals between feedings are surprisingly long (again, just as I've read), between five and ten minutes. They're supposed to get increasingly frequent during the two weeks it will take the little ones to fledge.

That seems backwards, doesn't it? Shouldn't the newborns demand constant feeding? I wonder if it's a defense against parasitism. The much larger cowbird babies need more feeding. That's why they kick their host's offspring out of the nest--they'd starve if they had to share resources at all--and kicking them out is part of why they have to be larger at hatching. Anyway, it seems to me that the very slow feeding schedule of the Warbling Vireos would be bad for such nestlings--maybe that's enough to keep their nests from being parasitized.

Anyway, Spring ended with the traditional sighting of a flurry of female Blackpoll warblers.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Blackpoll Warbler, Central park
that's all, folks!

Blackpolls are the latest Spring migrants among warblers, and the females (as in many species) migrate later than males, so when you see female Blackpolls coming through, it's about over.

Of course, there are some later-arriving non-warbler species, like this Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Central park
a two-cuckoo year!

That sighting game me both Cuckoo species for the year, which doesn't always happen. And there are always stragglers, like this Lincoln's Sparrow who is stuck in Bryant park:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Lincoln's Sparrow, Bryant Park
Lincoln's lurking near the library

There was a nice Swamp Sparrow, too, and a couple of White-Throateds, all around the birdbath in the northeast part of the park. Hopefully the'll all find their way out soon.

So spring is gone, but it doesn't feel much like Summer yet--cool though humid. But there are fledling birds all over--robins and Starlings and House sparrows, and at Turtle Pond, a raft of ducklings.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Raft of ducklings, Turtle Pond, Central park
a raft of ducklings

I think these are Mallards, but another observer thought Gadwalls. There is a possibly nesting Gadwall pair as well as a female Mallard nesting near the pond. I think their bills are too long for Gadwalls, though those flank spots are very Gadwallish.

Since we're back to the baby birds, here's another pic of the Vireos. Wonderful little birds.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Warbling Vireo feeding nestling, Central Park
I warn you, you're going to be seeing a lot of this nest the nest couple of weeks

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