Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birds in Review Part Vlll Parenting Baltimore Orioles and Fledglings

Today we revisit the Baltimore Oriole couple and see how their brood is getting on. Their nest is crafted so carefully and still safely hangs high up from outer branches of the Black Cherry tree in the north field. You can see the tiny fruits around the nest are more swollen in this photograph. The babies must be soon to fledge, for when the female began weaving, the cherry flowers were just dropping their thin white petals. Her pendulous pouch is layered with what we are able to see as the outside fiber covering . . . what we cannot see here are the babies inside snug within the softer inner lining and smooth bottom covering. It is fun to imagine the baby birds with mouths wide open . . . hoping they will get the next bite of insect!

The wind has whipped this branch and nest about much like a 'Tumble Bug' amusement ride at a fair!

Both parents have been busy harvesting insects from the gardens . . . one is usually going while the other is coming. 

The male will defend a larger territory before his mate begins weaving her nest. Once nesting, however, he will only defend within close proximity to his nest. This other male may be parenting a brood within the gardens as well, only here he is too close for the Black Cherry Baltimore Orioles, whose nest is but a few feet away.

I was lucky to see two fledglings climbing out of the nest, the day after seeing the sparring males! If you look carefully you can see two baby Baltimore Orioles leaving their nest. They were born naked with exception to a bit of down and only weighed a couple of grams . . . about as much as a dime. They are likely two weeks old here and lack the aptness for instant flying that the young Tree Swallows are endowed with. Baltimore Oriole babies are very vulnerable for a couple of days after vacating their nest. 

Their devoted parents will continue feeding them for two more weeks. 

Feeding babies while in a nest is much easier than trying to keep up with them all about the gardens. 

Here the male Baltimore Oriole finds one fledgling in a Rose of Sharon. 

He seems to be coaxing the little one to climb to a safer height within the shrub. 

The Orioles nest and much of their activity can be seen from my barn studio doors and windows. Soon after their babies had left the nest, I noticed the two parents flying about in a panic, I grabbed my camera and had a closer look.

Both Momma and Papa were crying out to something below!

The female flew over to the male as if to say "Do Something!" He quickly flew out a bit spreading his wings and tail feathers as far apart as he could . . . to attract attention to himself?? I could not tell from where I was, so I put on my shoes and headed outside. 

Though this is not the same red fox from that day, you can get the idea and clearly understand what all the fuss was about. I saw another fox running away . . . too quick for my camera. I guess my coming into the garden was enough to make it run for fear of it's life. I would have been very sad to know that a baby bird was lost to a fox, but I could never harm the beautiful creature. I am always excited to see a Grey or Red Fox in the garden. Now the only thing to do was to walk over to the area below where the parents had been excitedly crying out.

Looking all around under the Black Cherry. . . in what I thought was the direction the parents had been directing their horror. . . I did finally see what they were so concerned for. 
It has never occurred to me that I could be thankful for the cover of Bishops Weed! 

 I assured the little guy it was safe and it did not take long before he climbed out from under the green leafy protection.

What large feet you have my dear! 
He does not seem to mind the prickers on this raspberry cane. I love the tiny downy feathers . . .  from when it was first born I am guessing. The ones on his head remind me of a crown. 

Precious! Still in danger . . .  if he does not get to higher ground soon. 
I went back to my work and hoped for the best. 

The next morning I was relieved to see this young one high in a native Viburnum. The parents still must be aware of predators from the sky! It truly is a marvel these fragile beings survive at all.

Speaking of something coming from the sky . . . papa was trying to get breakfast to his baby and was not happy that I was visiting so early. 

I stepped out of their world . . . that I am honored to share . . . and let the Baltimore Orioles get on with their parenting.

 In early August his parents will leave . . . flying towards their wintering sites. The fledglings will remain here for another ten to twelve days before heading south. The darling bird pictured here most likely will not return to the garden to nest, for his parents are true to their nesting sites. This was the third or fourth year of their nesting in the Black Cherry. I wish this fledgling a long life . . . perhaps up to 11 years! May he raise many fine and healthy broods of his own. May Baltimore Orioles survive and thrive. I hope his parents will return this spring! 
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