Mayslake Birds Update

by Carl Strang

The first week of May continued the pattern of new migrant bird species appearing while others progressed with nesting and raising young. Among the new arrivals were indigo buntings, which immediately began to establish territories through singing and bickering between neighbors.

Indigo bunting b

The week’s bird highlight for me at Mayslake was this Caspian tern.

Caspian Mayslake 2b

It stayed only briefly, but I was privileged to watch it make two spectacular vertical dives from 20-30 feet into May’s Lake. It appeared to be successful at least on the second dive, as it took a few seconds to swallow the small fish it caught.

Among the earlier arrivals were chipping sparrows, and I am confident they will nest on the mansion grounds.

Chipping Sparrow 1b

I haven’t been seeing savanna sparrows consistently yet, but there is habitat for them around the off-leash dog fence, where I photographed this individual.

Savanna sparrow b

Nesting is confirmed for song sparrow, thanks to co-steward Jacqui G.’s discovery of this nest while she removed invasive weeds.

Song sparrow nest b

The red-bellied woodpeckers claimed this tree cavity early in the season, and the male’s frequent visits with tiny tapping signals suggest to me that they have eggs under incubation.

Red-bellied at nest b

Robins also are nesting. I don’t have a photo, yet, as the first nest under incubation I found is in a dense red cedar. I found the nest only because of the way the incubating bird’s mate reacted to an approaching blue jay. Meanwhile, the single duckling of the pair I reported earlier  is getting bigger.

Mallard family 3b

I commented then on the presence of the adult male, that this is a sign of a domestic background. During the week I watched him chase off another male who approached the female, probably to attempt a forced mating. That strange male’s interference might have endangered the duckling, and may point to a positive selective pressure maintaining this particular domestic trait in our suburban ducks.

%d bloggers like this: