Well, in my last post I noted that we had skunks and worried about the chickens. For good reason. The skunks burrowed under our run and killed all our chickens! We are very sad. I never thought it would be so hard to raise chickens. There sure are a lot of things that like to eat chickens, and they can be fairly ingenious about getting to them. I also never expected to get so attached to the chickens. They are quite a fun pet. (We are in the process of getting rid of the skunks, but it is taking some time.) Sometime in the unknown future, we will try again.
One silver lining is that instead of sitting in a lawn chair and watching the chickens peck around our driveway, this evening I sat out on the front lawn. I noticed a cacophony in one Lombardy poplar and took a closer look. I was hearing American kestrels, and I suddenly realized it wasn't just one or two kestrels, but three little ones, with two adults nearby!
In the catalpa tree above me, I heard quite a bit of noise from Western Kingbirds. I knew they had a nest there, but I didn't realize that the eggs had hatched. The parents took turns flying out to get insects to feed to the young. They were always very careful to have one parent close to the nest (a rather flimsy looking thing) at all times.
While I was looking at baby birds, I saw the cliff swallows flying in and out from their nest by our door. I timed one in and out of the nest, and it was only eight seconds. Some were even faster, while some were longer. Both parents flew out to get insects, sometimes with both hunting at the same time.
Another noisy bird like the western kingbird, but a bit brighter, made an appearance in a Lombardy poplar tree to the west (meaning this was the fourth nest, each in one direction, with me in the middle!). In a moment I saw the nest, a loose, hanging affair. Do you see it below?
This is a Bullock's oriole, a very pretty bird. The orioles had a very different parenting style than the kingbirds, leaving the nest all alone for a long period of times. When a parent came back, I could hear the babies chirping for food!
I will miss the chickens, but I will also try to make the most of what is in my life, including the amazing natural beauty and beginning of new life I was able to witness tonight.
I realize that probably in other years there were many nests around the yard, but I never took the time to really look at birds in detail in the yard. Thanks to Desert Survivor's Backyard Bird Challenge, I've paid a lot more attention this year (and need to update our list in the sidebar!).
If you're doing the backyard bird challenge, how is it going? And if you're not, it's never too late. Simply keep track of what birds you see in your yard!