All Eyes on the Baby Birds!

You know it’s spring when baby birds start hatching!

Barn Owls (Tyto alba)

Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward, CA has installed a small camera in a nest box on the grounds.  For the past few years, a pair of wild Barn Owls have made this box their home during mating season.  So far there are six eggs and four owls have hatched, with the other two expected soon!

You can watch the live feed 24/7 at http://www.haywardrec.org/sc_owl_cam.html

There’s also video of the fourth egg hatching and lots of information about Barn Owls.

Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

This camera trained on this family of Bald Eagles in Decorah, Iowa has become quite the Internet sensation!  I heard about it from one of the managers where I work, who’s so excited about them that the first thing he does every morning is check in on the eagles.

To head straight to the Bald Eagle cam, go to http://www.decoraheaglecamalerts.com/

To check out the group that sponsors the cam and see other streaming videos of newly hatched falcons, owls, and more eagles, go to http://raptorresource.org/

Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis)

The other day when I was walking around Lake Merritt, I happened to see a Junco with a bunch of grass in its beak.  “Hey!  It’s building a nest!” I thought.  So I watched it, and sure enough, it flew into the ground ivy right below where it had been perched.  I watched the leaves rustle around for a minute, then the Junco flew away.

I went over to where the leaves had been rustling, and hey!  There was a nest!  I went back a week later and saw that they had laid four eggs.  Wow!

HERE’S SOMETHING I DIDN’T KNOW until a friend who’s an experienced birder told me… when you see a bird nesting on the ground, of course it’s bad to disturb the parent sitting on the eggs.  I had tried to sort of peer at it through the leaves but ended up disturbing the parents anyway (eek).  BUT what I didn’t know was that when you walk up to a nest you create a scent trail that predators can follow, so you should always continue walking past a nest you want to look at instead of looking at it then turning around.  A dead-end scent trail is like an arrow pointing straight at a nest.

Sorry, Juncos.  I hope I didn’t lead a feral cat, opossum, squirrel, raccoon, or dog in your direction.  On second thought, WHY DO YOU NEST ON THE GROUND WHEN YOU CAN FLY?????  Not that nesting in trees necessarily keeps birds safe from squirrels, raccoons, or opossums… geez, it’s amazing that babies survive at all.

Anyway, keep your eyes out for new nests and fledglings!  Baby bird season arriveth!!

The Always Amazed Amateur Naturalist,

Constance

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