Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nesting Season

With the spring migration in its waning days, birds are shifting into procreation mode and some of our early nesters already have broods under their care. About two weeks ago I began monitoring a pair of Common Ravens that constructed a nest on the I-91 ledge cut immediately south of Exit 6 in Rockingham, VT. During the early evening of May 11 three downy young were digiscoped from the top of the ledge on the west side of the highway (photo right). Although the adults were heard croaking from time to time, none visited the nestlings dispite their begging. As the sun dropped behind the trees and the nest site was deprived of warm sunlight, the young disappeared into the depth of the nest. Eleven days later I revisted the site to catch up on the ravens' progress. All three young remained and had put on considerable growth. The slate gray down has largely been replaced with feathers, and one nestling (taller individual in photo below) has developed to the point that it can support itself on the nest rim. I speculate this is the dominant nestling. Neither adult was observed visiting the nest during my hour stay, but I'll return a couple more times hoping for the chance to catch an adult delivering food. Stay tuned.

Other noteworthy nesting observations from the area include the apparent success of the Peregrine Falcon pair on Skitchewaug Mountain in Springfield. According to Margaret Fowle of Audubon Vermont, eggs are suspected to have hatched on May 3 and the banded male may be the same individual that nested there in previous years. The female is not banded.

In my April 7 post I wrote about our optimism that this may be the year that the North Springfield Reservoir pair may pull off a successful nesting. Last Wednesday, wildlife biologist Forrest Hammond and I checked on the eagles during our lunch break. During the short visit we saw promising activity. Upon our arrival one adult sat on the nest. Shortly after it fly to a snag tree several hundred yards down the lake, where it deficated and promptly returned to the nest. At the nest, the bird showed much attention to whatever was in the nest (young?) and then resumed brooding position but with alot of bill gaping and head movement. Eagle pairs in the Upper Connecticut River Valley are reported also to have hatched young.

On the down side, the eagle pair that has established a nest site near the Upper Meadows (Herrick's Cove IBA) the past several years appears not to have been successful. A couple visits on my part including those of others have failed to find any eagle activity at the nest. Despite the species' recovery nationwide and federal delisting from endangered status, the Bald Eagle in Vermont still remains tenuous.

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