Welcome to Week #43 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #43 challenge is Birds with chicks or Baby Birds or Nests with Eggs.
The feature image is a baby Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that had fallen out of a very tall tree and onto the ground on a windy day. This is where and how we found the little guy.
This is me improvising….adapting and overcoming! As I mentioned in the round up, I lost my SD Card on Wednesday while picking strawberries. Dumb…yes I know! I usually take it out of my pocket on the trip and put it in my purse. I forgot! Cost me dearly. I’ve lost 1500-2000 images that didn’t get downloaded. Including our last two birding adventures and my photos for this challenge. I may be pulling from my archives and photos I’ve already used on my blogs for a while until I can get back out on the trail.
This mama had 3 chicks. I only had two in this photo that has been previously used. The photo below is all three chicks with both parents. The parents were leading them into the Mangroves because a 4 foot alligator was on the pursuit. The gator gave up once they got into cover. Common Gallinules are in the rail family and are quite visible in their habitat, unlike many rails who are quite shy. They build nests to raise their young, however they build platforms of matted vegetation to display for potential mates. Newly hatched baby chicks are born with spurs on their wings that help them climb into the nest or grab onto that vegetation.
As with many birds, Great Egret chicks don’t usually all survive after hatching. Most often, the large chicks will kill their smaller siblings. This type of behavior is called siblicide and is common in birds of prey and herons as well. Great Egrets nest in mixed colonies and are usually the first to arrive with other species to begin nesting shortly after.
The male chooses the display area where the nest will later be constructed. Their nests are generally up to a 100 feet off the ground, near water. They will occasionally nest on the ground. The nest is up to 3 feet across and a foot deep and is lined with pliable plant material that dries, forming a cup structure. The eggs are a pale greenish blue.
Tricolored Herons nest in mixed colonies with other heron species, egrets, and woodstorks. They generally breed on islands and in dense tree or shrubs up to 13 feet above the ground or water. Males usually pick the spot in shade and collects twigs to build a platform before pairing. Once paired with the female, the male will continue to bring more twigs to the female for her to arrange. The female lines the nest with finer twigs and cordgrass. A clutch size is 3-5 eggs and are a pale greenish blue similar to the eggs of the Great Egret.
Some Sandhill Cranes start breeding at the age of two years old, however they may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life which means they could be together for 20 plus years. Sandhill Cranes usually nest in isolated wetlands. This Sandhill Crane was tucked in and seen on a nest of eggs on the wildlife drive at Viera Wetlands in Viera, Florida. Generally, a clutch size is 1-3 pale brownish yellow to olive colored eggs with irregular brown and gray markings. When they hatch, they are covered with down, are active with open eyes. The chicks stay with their parents for 9 to 10 months after hatching.
Male and female Blue-gray Gnatcatcher choose a nest site and they both build a neat open cuplike nest. It could take up to two weeks for them to build a nest that is 2-3 inches wide and is held together with branches and spider webbing. They are creatively decorated with lichen. The walls are built high, but on the day that we found this little guy on the ground sitting unhurt on top of oak leaves, those high walls were not enough for the high winds that day. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers lay 3-5 pall blue spotted eggs with reddish to dark brown speckles. When they hatch, they are born naked and helpless, eyes closed and very little movement.
I became Mama Bird for the weekend until we could get this cute little baby to a proper shelter. I fed it all day for two days using a mixture of Heaven’s dog food (soaked in water to mush) and boiled eggs. We also went and got some mealworms from Wild Birds Unlimited and I was then a hero. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher survived and was released into the wild after several weeks.
Muscovy Ducks lay 8-15 eggs with a 30-31 day incubation. The eggs are glossy white and sometimes have a greenish or buff tint. When these chicks hatch, they are fearless with a heavy hooked bill. This domestic Muscovy Duck was seen with 11 chicks. Two are not in the photo. She made her nest against the building of my chiropractor’s office. Her and her ducklings were running all over the property. Mama had her “hands” full.
Next time…Week #44 – Birds beginning with the letter “F” (if a bird has more than one word of the name, you can use it as long as it begins with a “F”, ie: Ferruginous Hawk or House Finch) (4/23/21)