Changes in Our Local Bird Life
This year our spring rainfall was near normal. That’s been good for the human urban dwellers and particularly the farmers but we’ve noticed a change in the activity of local bird life. This year there have been more robins and robin fledglings than normal. Over the past several weeks, we have seen the adults searching for food in the grass, returning to the nest to feed the young. The adult robins have become quite courageous, coming to within 15 feet of us. The chicks have fledged and have been following their parents on their food forays. Many of the young birds are now on their own.
Things appear to be different for the killdeer. The two previous springs were very dry, and by this time of year we would have seen two or three clutches of killdeer chicks. This year we have seen signs of killdeer nesting, egg laying and parent protective behavior but no chicks. I first thought it might be the wet spring causing the lack of chicks but that should not disrupt the nesting success of these plovers entirely. Then a possible answer occurred to me. We have noticed an increase in the number of feral cats in the area. This can prove very detrimental to the success of any ground nesting bird. I hope our community can tackle this situation soon and painlessly.
Last year, due to a bridge replacement, the cliff swallows lost their long time nesting location and relocated to the eaves of nearby homes. Please see 2 May posting for video. This year the majority of the birds have returned to the new bridge. Below they can be seen collecting mud for their nests on the sixth fairway during the spring of last year.
Swallows collecting mud 23 Apr 2008.
Also, we have seen fewer egrets and green herons at Watson Hollow this spring. Hopefully the wet fields have attracted these birds with a larger concentration of insects and small vertebrates than years past.