Hermit Thrush Nest

Near the end of July I posted about finding bird nests earlier in the month. A couple of days after I wrote that post, I found another nest with young. I mentioned it briefly in a posts the day I found the nest, one day when I spent time watching the nest, and finally when the nest was empty.

I never would have found the nest if I had not been alerted to its presence by the begging calls of the young. As with previous nests with young that I was able to observe, these birds were very quiet, except when a parent returned with food, but I did happen to catch the sound of their begging while I was out at the battlesite bench. Although I could hear the high pitched calls, I had difficulty accurately placing where they were coming from, especially given their short duration. I was able to get enough of a sense about where they were that I knew they were in the trees between the trail and the beach, relatively close to the bench. Although the total area where I needed to look was small, I did not want to crash through the bushes and accidentally knock the nest over or otherwise disturb it significantly in the likely event that I did not happen to see it.

After a few minutes of looking and waiting, I was able to narrow my focus a little bit more as the parents made a couple more trips. I figured I must be close when I noticed one of the parents with food acting wary about my presence. I backed off a bit and waited until the parent had fed the young birds (though I still could not see where exactly they were). After it flew off to gather more food, I moved in closer again, sat down, and waited. When a parent returned with another bill-full of food, it seemed to notice me and be a little hesitant. I waited quietly, and the finally the parent apparently decided I was not much of a threat, so it flew in to feed. This time I was able to get a look at where the nest was.

The nest was in a short spruce tree growing up through the beach-side Red Alders. The nest was about 4 or 5 feet off the ground, in relatively easy view from the upper edge of the beach. Mostly made up of moss and twigs, I could also see feathers and some hair built into the nest, undoubtedly collected from the sheddings of the many dogs that get walked through the park. The four young, practically stacked on top of each other, filled it almost to overflowing. The feathers of the nestlings seemed well developed, and during the time I was able to observe these birds over a couple of days, I saw one of them climb up on the edge of the nest and work its wings a bit. After another couple of days had passed, the nest was empty.

It was interesting trying to stay out of sight while watching the nest. It was not so much the birds I was concerned about seeing me, but the people walking through the park. The nest really was only a short distance from the trail, and when the cruise ships are in on sunny days, as was the case when I was watching, visitors are many. The only spot to watch where I could see the nest, but not be so close the parents would not feed the nestlings was right at the edge of the alders at the top of the beach. From where I was stationed, I could not quite see the battlesite bench, but anyone who took a step closer to the beach to look around was visible. When things seemed especially busy, I sometimes just sat down at the top of the beach and got interested in insects, just in case someone noticed me. I didn’t really want to advertise the location of the nest and risk disturbing it even more than I was probably already doing.

Over the time I observed, I was able to see the parents bring in food a few times. Salmonberries and invertebrates seemed to make up the bulk of the food items. Invertebrates I noticed included a centipede, caterpillars, and a crane fly or harvestman (all I could see were the long legs).

Additional photos below.

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