Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nesting Season

With my busy school schedule and our out of town trip over spring break, it had been a month or two since we had hiked our local birding hotspot - Hull's Grove. With spring well upon us, Karyn and I hiked this morning. What a beautiful day with lots of action in the bird world. First up, in the lower pond was a pair of Pied-billed Grebes. There are my favorite Grebes so I was glad to see them back, although I think they might be responsible for running off the Belted Kingfishers which used to live near these ponds. We watched as a Red-winged Blackbird dove toward the grebe, but the grebe was undeterred.

Pied-billed Grebe.

Further up the trail we checked in on the Great Horned Owl's nest. One adult was in the tree across the valley while we could see one adult and at least one chick inside the hole in the sand cliff. Great Horned Owls have successfully fledged at least 3 chicks per year from this site for the past 4 years, probably longer. It is likely that this is the same pair, reusing the same nest year to year. We saw them mate a few times back in February.

Near the upper pond we discovered a large nest we had not previously discovered. There was something in it, but we could not tell what. Then we saw a beautiful male Cooper's Hawk nearby.

Male Cooper's Hawk.

This hawk would later fly to the nest. The two adults took turns flying to a nearby pine tree to gather branches for the nest.

Cooper's Hawk on the nest.

Further down the trail we found the Red-tailed Hawks in their nest. They are using a nest about 50 meters from the nest that has been occupied the lat two years. We look forward to tracking the process of all three of these nests. Oh, did I forget to mention the Kestrel nests? We didn't see any action there, but there were plenty of Kestrel's around. One was chasing a Red-tailed Hawk at one point.