The weather has been intermittently rainy for the past week. As I walked down our driveway this morning, the woods were steamy as the temperature began to climb quickly.
Almost every day, I look for wood thrush nests.
Photo: June 4, 2008
This nest looks very much like what a Wood Thrush would make. It's new this year but I have not seen any bird on the nest. The nest is right next to the driveway and very exposed so I am wondering if the Wood Thrush changed his mind.
Photo: May 29, 2008
About 25 feet from this nest is this one where a female Wood Thrush has been incubating the eggs for over a week now. This nest is well hidden in a Witch Hazel, a common understory tree here. One evening I saw the male sitting right next to the female on the nest, perfectly still as I approached (the photo came out too blurry to post). Could the male have built the empty nest as a decoy?
While I was photographing the empty nest above, a couple of birds landed on a branch nearby. I first thought they were goldfinches but no, they were a pair of Hooded Warblers! I thought I had seen them before but this time, I knew for sure that's what they were. They called but then left after a minute before I could photograph them. I don't think they were the ones that made the empty nest. I also have seen the Worm-eating Warbler near this same spot.
The Wood Thrush on the nest looks so innocent and fragile that I want to protect her from the Blue Jays who might steal her eggs or the Cow Bird who might lay an egg in her nest. The baby cowbird would muscle out the others.
My husband and I have probably done the best to protect wood thrushes and other forest-dwelling birds by putting a conservation easement on our land.
Every time I pass by our easement sign, I remember that this land (79 acres of the 83 we own) is protected forever from development which poses the most threats to wildlife. The warblers, ovenbirds, tanagers, and barred owls will always have a home here. So too does the box turtle which probably is the most threatened on our land. To be sure, we benefit from the easement as well. We received tax credits and we still can enjoy our land until the time when we must move someday--hopefully not anytime soon. But, I am most comforted to know that wildlife will always have a home on this Appalachian mountain long after I am gone.