Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Nest Medley

You know something about winter I never gave a shit about before I met you lot? Leaves off trees. Used to hate that. Depressing little bare skeletal things scratching at the sky, dead season, awful. Then you came round with your bird-identifying ways, and turns out you like nests, and so now I have a reason to go skipping down the street with a camera and my head craned back. I prefer to do it on non-drippy days, which rather limits my ability to shoot nests. But with our recent wee break in the weather, I got you lots and lots of nests to be going on with.

Our first joy is a rather large one wedged in the crotch of a tall tree.

UFN I

UFN I

Very tall. Very large.

UFN II

UFN II

Am I right in thinking this is too orderly to be a crow? Not that I would know. I know how to tell a barn swallow’s nest, and I can sometimes spot a raptor’s nest if it’s very large and has a raptor sitting in it. This one is large, but it hasn’t got a raptor sitting in it, so I dunno.

UFN III

UFN III

One can get a bit dizzy staring up the trunk of a tall tree snapping a nest, but for you, I will do nearly anything, even that.

 

UFN IV

UFN IV

Thing’s wedged in there very well. Amazing what these dinosaur descendants can do with a few sticks and a clever beak.

UFN V

UFN V

Other birds use quite a lot of different materials. I’m not sure of all I’m seeing, because this seems rather old and some things are decayed.

UFN VI

UFN VI

But I’d swear I can see plastic in there. And some dangly thing artistically draped. Some of the birds round here seem positive artists.

UFN VII

UFN VII

This one quite intrigued me. It’s quite old – one can tell from the thick moss growing upon it.

UFN VIII

UFN VIII

Dunno if it’s still in use or not. Probably not. But the thing certainly looks built to last.

UFN IX

UFN IX

So this is a sort of almost wetland area down at the bottom of a hill, with a little stream running along the base (I showed you it a few days ago). There are thickets of these skinny trees, which form an effective screen in the summer time and a rather less effective one in the winter.

UFN X

UFN X

And these little nests are all over the place. I found at least three, and there were probably more I didn’t spot.

UFN XI

UFN XI

And they all looked quite ancient, moss-covered and droopy. Of course, they could be created by birds with a keen sense of the antique.

UFN XII

UFN XII

And some of them seem to like situating their abodes in places with nice arched blackberry canes, very picturesque.

UFN XIII

UFN XIII

So much for the first half of the journey. I cut in to the wetlands after that, expecting to find more, and discovered that while birds round here seem to like street views, not many are impressed with trailside property. No idea why. But there are a few more, and we shall have them next time.

Comments

  1. rq says

    I’m going to vote ‘crow’ or ‘raven’ on the first one, just judging from the general arrangements of sticks. If it seems large for a crow, it’s more likely a raven’s nest, but it’s hard to say – google images seems to have a variety of sizes for crow nests, too.
    Going to do more of a search for the moss-covered ones, I don’t think the moss is a feature of time, but rather one of construction (senior crows who got tired of sitting on dry sticks decided to add some padding? :D). The clue about them being near wetlands will be taken into account.

  2. rq says

    Mmkay, and that second nest – my vote goes to chaffinch, but I can’t seem to find any other reliable chaffinch nest photos. This website (the poster right at the beginning) is why I’m guessing chaffinch; I can’t seem to find an enlarged version of that image to read it better.
    For some other awesome nestage, there’s this nest identifier, which goes through some common examples. Yours isn’t on the list, though (from what I could see).

  3. psweet says

    If Dana took these near where she lives, I’ll guarantee it’s not a Chaffinch — they don’t occur anywhere near the Pacific Northwest.

    The last ones look like Yellow Warbler and possibly Lazuli Bunting — I know that Indigo Buntings love having a similar canopy over their nests.

    • rq says

      Maybe a finch of some other kind…?
      The bunting nests also seem likely, although I’m unfamiliar with the birds as a group.

  4. fastlane says

    Mostly off topic, but wife has been sharp eyed enough to spot a hummingbird nest on two different occasions. From more than 15 feet away, they look like a leaf.

    …she really needs to come birding with me more often.

    I would almost guess the top one could be an osprey nest, but I’ve only seen a couple of those, and one was on top of a light post and one was in a tree.

  5. evilDoug says

    The moss on XII is clearly very well established. It also looks to me like there are at least two species of vascular plant growing in it. The moss probably originally got there via the dinosaur, but no winged beast living in a nest that size is going to be capable of carrying a piece of moss that big. I would guess that moss grows pretty fast around there, but I would also guess that the nest is more than a year old. It may or may not be a candidate for reuse this year.

    The big nest may be a crow’s nest that has been used for more than one year. Crows will reuse nests, and do renovations, so the nests can become quite big. Other birds will also move into old crow’s nests. Some raptors will nest that close to humans, though they tend to be pretty cranky about humans being around when there are young in the nest.

    REALLY big nests , via Mike the Mad Biologist

  6. evilDoug says

    not many are impressed with trailside property

    Lots of birds that nest in wetlands build pretty close to the ground, so if people are regularly around the birds will get their safety distance horizontally rather than vertically.

    If there are reeds in your wetlands, look them over carefully too. According to the maps, you should have marsh wrens around there, and they nest in reeds.

    Don’t forget to scan the trunks of large trees, especially dead ones, for signs of cavity nests. This time of year all you are likely to see is holes, but there are all sorts of birds that will take up residence soon.