This month I happened across three different active bird nests in less than a week. In my experience, it’s not that easy to find most bird nests. I have managed to notice a few around town, where cover is limited and people are much more accepted by the birds. I have also found a few Red-breasted Sapsucker nests, though that is due to the constant loud calling of their young more than any real observational skill on my part.
The first nest was a Spotted Sandpiper nest on a sand spit at the end of Medvejie Lake. I had seen an adult, and figured there might be a nest somewhere around, but I was taking pictures of flowers rather than looking for a nest when I happened to notice four eggs in a grass cup on the ground. I later read that the female will often mate with more than one male, staying to help raise the young with only the last of her mates. I only saw one adult, so I am guessing it was a male taking care of its nest and waiting for the young to hatch.
Near where the Mt. Verstovia trail leaves the trail, I was walking slowly and happened to see a sparrow flitting about. I then heard the sound of small birds begging, and as juveniles sometimes are easier to get photos of, I investigated a little more. It was then that I noticed the nest maybe waist high in a tree just a few feet off the trail. The chicks were still downy, and I was not sure what species, so I waited on the trail until the adults came back and saw that they were Fox Sparrows. There seemed to be two adults, but I did not stick around long enough to be positive.
Just as I was reaching the top of the trail, I heard begging calls coming from over a ledge. I did not think much of it, but a couple of minutes later I heard the calls again, and it sounded like they were coming from the same place. The ledge dropped down only a few feet, and I climbed down it and sat watching. Before long I noticed a warbler flitting about in the scrubby Mountain Hemlocks. It had a beak full of caterpillars, but seemed a little bit wary of me. Finally it flew in to its nest. Once I knew where to look, it was actually fairly easy to see the nest. It was made in a small burrow shelteredby overhanging vegetation. I watched this nest for a while. There were 5 chicks that rested quietly until they heard something. Then they would raise their heads up and open their mouths, but would not make a sound. Only when the adult came right to the nest did they start begging.