4/20 – Yard Update

The resident Groundhog  chowing down on some grub (literally!).

The resident Groundhog chowing down on some grub (literally!).

This week has been a busy one for the yard, with a number of new arrivals revealing themselves over the past couple of days. The male Eastern Towhee continued on Monday (4/15), and the first Opsrey of the year was noted soaring overhead. 

The highlight of the week, though, came the next day (4/16), when a pair of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons was observed nest-building at the end of my street while on the way to school. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron has been nesting on the cul-de-sac that we live on for quite some time, but has declined in recent years. After normal numbers in 2009 (4-5 pairs), 2010 saw a 50% decrease in numbers. Only one pair remained in 2011, with these birds not nesting in the usual location. By the spring of 2012, ZERO Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were breeding in the neighborhood.

I’m still not sure why breeding Yellow-crowneds have decreased here, but increasing disturbance and the lost of traditional nests from Hurricane Irene might have been a contributing factor, although these birds were decreasing before the latter event even occurred.  All of that aside, I’m especially relived and excited to see a pair making an attempt at breeding in 2013.

Proudly perched next to the nearly-completed nest.

Proudly perched next to the nearly completed nest.

Plumes blowin' in the wind.

Plumes blowin’ in the wind.

If you decide to come view the birds, please be respectful and don’t approach too closely to the Night-Herons or their nest. All of the members of this neighborhood have enjoyed watching these birds nesting for years now, and will not tolerate any disturbance to either the birds or themselves.

Last but not least, a five-minute watch of the feeders yesterday afternoon yielded three Dark-eyed Juncos while only one was present today (possibly the last bird of the season here). Three Eastern Towhee (one male, two females) were scratching about under the feeders this morning. Winning the award for the most bizarre sighting of the week were two Rock Pigeons seen under the feeders for most of the day today, the first ROPIs I’ve ever seen physically in the yard (only seen them flying overhead previously).

The two Rock Pigeons, with a nearby Mourning Dove for comparison.

The two Rock Pigeons, with a nearby Mourning Dove for comparison.

-Alex

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2 Responses to 4/20 – Yard Update

  1. Betsy says:

    Hi Alex,
    My feeders are being emptied by the Juncos. We can’t keep the feeder full for them and the Redpolls. I may have to go back to work to support them. Saw the first male Goldfinch today in full breeding plumage.So beautiful to behold. Even with all the snow still on the ground, spring has arrived with the viewing of Robbins and our resident Chipmunk, who appeared from his winter slumber.

    Love getting your birding updates. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and of course those incredible photos.
    Hugs from Rangeley,
    Betsy .

  2. Deanna Becker says:

    How great that the night herons are back. They are such beautiful birds. I got a kick out of the photo of the resident groundhog–it seems that everybody has one in their back yard. Interesting that you have pigeons–we have never had a pigeon in our yard and I don’t believe I’ve seen very many around town. Guess they like the city better!

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