Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Low temperatures, small birds.

It was unusually cold today, the temperature hovering around freezing. Nevertheless the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder reached or remained above its freezing point, and an Anna's Hummingbird was visiting.

This isn't a great picture, but is one of few that shows the structural colour --magenta, I would say--of the male's gorget and forehead feathers.

As I was watching the hummingbird, I could here in the distance the "ank ank ank" of a Red-breasted Nuthatch. I found the bird, hassling the pair of chickadees I wrote of a few days ago. They were still working on their nest, with no help from nuthatch, who several times landed next to their hole when one was inside, and offered a noisy opinion. I wondered, was the nuthatch trying to claim the nest? A short search didn't provide much about nuthatch-chickadee nest competition, but I did find reference to an interesting paper that described co-nesting by Mountain Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, in which both chickadee and nuthatch nestlings shared a nest and were tended by both chickadee and nuthatch parents. And they all fledged. Tempting to draw a lesson from that.

Opinionated nuthatch, speaking to chickadee (partly visible below the thicker horizontal branch).


KaHolly said...

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days with this little birdie soap opera!

PSYL said...

That a really interesting paper you referred to. Although I would think it's very rare for different species to do so.

I wouldn't want to share a nest with noisy nuthatches. Their 'nasal' call was one of the first calls we learned in Ornithology, and annoying it was (and never-forgetting too).