This month is going by very fast. I can hardly believe there’s only 9 days left of this month.
Lately it’s been getting really hot. Today in Davis it’s going to be in the upper 90’s. I’ve observed a strange behavior in some birds, where they sit in the sun on a very hot day, poof up, tilt their head, and pant. I’ve noticed this in multiple species of songbirds. I wondered why they don’t just move to the shade. I thought it was very bizarre, because to me it looked like they were voluntarily giving themselves heat stress. Apparently this sunning behavior may be a way for the birds to get rid of parasites (mites, lice…). By being in the heat, the parasites are forced to move off their back and onto their sides, and then the birds can just preen them off. It’s also just very hot so even when they’re not sunning, they are panting and holding their wings out a bit away from their body to lower body temperature.
Tree Swallow pair in the sun
Birds are quite amazing in how they survive this hot weather while continuing to take care of their eggs and chicks. The Killdeer mother on her nest at Dry Creek Confluence is still sitting in the hot gravel in direct sunlight keeping her nest at the right temperature (incubation is also used to keep eggs cool in hot weather). It’s been quite a few weeks seeing the Killdeer, I thought that her eggs would have hatched by now. Hopefully they didn’t get cooked.
Killdeer on her nest
With less rain and more hot weather, the creek water levels have returned to normal now. Previously flooded trails are reopened and all our boxes are accessible. Some boxes are gone (had been swept away), but otherwise the rest held up pretty well.
Putah Creek- Picnic Grounds 5/21/2017
Here are some recent photos:
At our nestbox site at Dry Creek Confluence, there are 2 boxes on poles someone had set up a while back. One of them is now being occupied by Tree Swallows (photo below). Last year we had a House Sparrow attempt in this box. We haven’t had any House Sparrows this season at all, not even one nesting attempt.
Pair of Tree Swallows
Here are some photos of Western Bluebirds with some food, ready to feed the hungry chicks:
Western Bluebird. Photo: Bob McLandress
recently hatched Western Bluebirds
Here are a few pictures of some of our interns doing nestbox work:
Jessica Kwok, Hanika Cook, and Lynette Williams checking a nestbox. Photo: Bob McLandress
David Eng, Jan Ng, and Christina Torres holding banded House Wren chicks
Lydia Kim, Matt Godoy, and Christina Scott holding banded Tree Swallow chicks
Tree Swallow chick being banded
It’s halfway through the nestbox season, time is going by fast!
-Evelien de Greef