One pastime I've been enjoying immensely is periodically checking the WildWatchCams with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that lewlew blogged about. Bluebirds, osprey, bald eagles, herons, burrowing owls and barn owls...it's fascinating to watch their spring nesting habits.
The baby bluebirds gradually decreased in number from seven rather ugly hatchlings to three fluffy adorable chicks. At some point Monday morning, they fledged and disappeared from the camera's view. Unfortunately I missed the actual event; they were there when I checked up on them in the morning, and then a couple hours later there was only the empty nest. But it looks like someone's feathering the nest again, so I'll be keeping watch.
The barn owl nest failed. At first, whenever I checked on her during the day, she was setting on her eggs and sleeping. But during the final days before WDFW staff removed the infertile eggs and prepped the box for a new nest, she could be seen awake during daylight hours, preening herself in the nest box and ignoring her eggs. They're not sure why the nest failed--it could be either the male or the female--but there's a good chance she'll nest multiple times during the year. Some feathers have appeared in the new nesting material, so I'm hopeful she'll be back soon.
The osprey is still setting on eggs--she doesn't move much, and her mate can sometimes be seen coming and going from the nest for food. According to Wikipedia, hatching them takes about 5 weeks, and I have no idea when she started.
Both the bald eagle nests have chicks that appear to be doing well, and it gives me a thrill whenever I'm fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of both adults at their nest at the same time.
I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see the burrowing owl. For two weeks or so, all I ever saw was the burrow entrance surrounded by grass. Then on Tuesday, an adult miraculously made an appearance outside the burrow...my first sighting. It didn't move much, so I had to wait for several refreshes to be sure of what I was seeing, but it definitely was an owl. Then, after a mere half day of marveling at finally having spotted one, I enjoyed the treat of seeing one of the downy, light-colored babies make sporadic appearances at the burrow entrance. Slightly smaller and much more mobile, it darted in, out, and around the burrow for some 15 minutes before disappearing again, but not before I captured a screen shot of it.
These cams perfectly punctuate my enjoyment of springtime in the Pacific Northwest. The sun peeks its head out and the weather becomes more mild and placid. The grass grows lush and thick in every field. Flowering trees and plants and burst forth in splendiferous displays of color. The tips of the evergreens are frosted with verdant, youthful new needles. And this year, the birds of prey appear to be eating well, given their frequent appearances both on the webcams and all along my morning and evening commute.
Nothing against Christmas, but this truly is the most wonderful time of the year.