In my last post I brought you news about the many new and exciting things going on at Presque Isle as spring gets underway. Well, it’s still going strong and I’d like to remind everyone that this is a delicate time for wildlife on the park. Some birds, like the great-horned owls, robins and starlings are already tending to young ones. Others are just beginning to build nests. It is important that if you come across a bird working on a nest you avoid lingering there. I recently read an excellent article by George Lepp in the May 2012 edition of Outdoor Photography magazine called “Give ‘Em Some Space” that addresses this very issue. In the article Lepp outlines steps to avoid disrupting nests and nesting sites. He points out that birds are especially alert when building a nest. I suppose this is for several reasons but, putting myself in the birds shoes, I imagine they feel more vulnerable being exposed for long periods of time while excavating and/or bringing in building materials. He also points out that your presence, particularly near ground nests, can attract predators to the nest as they follow your scent. So, it’s always best to stay a respectable distance from any nest, either one that’s under construction or inhabited. How close is too close? I’ve heard many say as soon as you notice a change in the bird’s behavior, meaning he’s noticed you noticing him, you’re too close. Some birds are much more proximity-tolerant such as chickadees, which some people train to eat from their hand, while others are quite intolerant, like belted kingfishers who, I swear, fly away the second I put my foot out the door even though my home is 100 feet from the creek where they fish.
Here are a few shots of a pair of chickadees excavating a nest. I stayed about 30 to 40 feet away hidden behind a tree as the chickadees diligently worked on their home, in and out like a well-oiled machine. One flew out with a mouthful of decayed wood and the other would fly in immediately afterward for his/her load. I stayed for a minute or two and then bid adieu to the industrious pair, congratulating them on their new home.