Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's all about the birds and the bees.

Ask yourself what comes to mind when you hear  "the birds and the bees".  My Friday outing was all about the birds and the bees.  Really!  Read on.

There are now multiple websites that have a live stream of an active nest - Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and Redtail Hawks, to name a few. One of the very popular ones shows a pair of Redtails nesting on a very high light tower on the campus of Cornell University.
See:  Cornell Redtail Hawk Nest

I've heard many people admit to watching this on their computer for long periods of time. Some are doing so when they should be working. Such is the magnetic interest that the cycle of new life has on us.

To my good fortune,  I have been directed to a cliff side nest of Redtail Hawks in the Fall Creek Gorge near the Cornell campus, and the location is perfect for photography.  Even better, it is not a man made structure but "au natural" with no voyeuristic component.  Join me in a series of photos from about a two hour session and how it ended with the bees.

This is, I believe, the female shown high above the nest on a warm day, keeping watch on the nest below.

I think she sees me. Actually, I am on the sidewalk of a well-traveled street with regular pedestrian traffic and I am sure she sees me and lots more.

When I arrived, the chicks were active in the nest below.

The chick in the foreground is the older of the two. Note that it has more dark feathers emerging to replace the down.  The younger chick is attempting to do something with the tough-skinned chipmunk left earlier by a parent. They are not very graceful at this stage.  Awkward, really.

Eventually, the adult overhead flew to a roost on the opposite side of the gorge, still watchful.

After some time had passed,  the male returned with a fresh chipmunk.

For a few moments, both adults were on the nest.  I think the male left quickly to resume hunting and the female remained to feed the chicks.  Chipmunks are pretty tough skinned, and the one chick's attempt to take one apart was futile. The female put all of her strengths into the task.

She was pretty equitable in dividing the food among the two chicks.

What I expected next was the onset of a food coma for the chicks.  I could see them become calmer.

As the nest came out of the shadows and they became drowsy, I expected the adult to shield them with outstretched wings, as I had seen three days before. It had been two hours on the bridge. It was time to move to something new.  The time passed quickly.  I'd met numerous walkers.  Most had never seen such a thing close up, but some stopped every day on their way to and from work. 

So, I went to Sapsucker Woods for a break and to walk a woodland trail looking for small birds. Found a few such as Phoebes and Orioles, but was most taken by the wild azaleas blooming with hot pink flowers.  

So, you see that my day was really all about the birds and the bees.

I am sure that there are others who will enjoy reading about this. Please share it with someone.


Paul Schmitt

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