Wednesday, May 25, 2011


May seems to be a big month for fledglings here in Central Texas. Lots of young birds have just left the nest and are learning to fly and catch food on their own, always under the watchful eye of their parents. They're basically the bird equivalent of a teenager. You can tell a fledglings because they're as big as an adult bird, but may be "scruffy" looking because they haven't gotten all their adult feathers in yet, and they may have slightly different, usually duller colors and patterns compared to an adult bird. They're also usually accompanied by their busy parents, still begging the parents for food with whiny chirping and wing-fluttering.

They also tend to act dumber than adult birds, and are easier to get close to and don't fly as well. It's a dangerous time in a bird's life. Often the parents will try to make up for this by being extra aggressive with alarm calls, and even swooping at you to get them away from their kids.

Fledgelings, like all teenagers, seem to be hungry all the time. A family of cardinals have been visiting the seed feeder pretty much every morning for a while. The two or three kids they have stay up in the tree, while Dad Cardinal brings them seeds.
Then Dad Cardinal has to go back to the feeder and get some more seeds.
Then back in the tree again to stick them in the kids' hungry mouths. Dad Cardinal is such a good dad! It makes me tired watching him going back and forth and back and forth like this.
Here's one of the Cardinal Kids sitting on the side of the birdbath. Juvenile cardinals can be mistaken for female cardinals, but female cardinals still have bright orange beaks and a black mask, while the kids have a dull beak and no mask.
There's also been a family of Black-crested Titmice at the suet. I've had trouble keeping the suet full with how many birds have been devouring it. Here's the titmouse family back again to clean up every last crumb left. In this picture are two of the siblings fighting over it and making a big racket.
The kids look just like the parents except they don't yet have the black crest. Sorry about the blurriness of these pictures, but birds move so fast it's hard to get clear shots of them. I think the one on the bottom is an adult with a black crest, and the two on top are kids. It looked like there were two parents and about 3-4 kids zipping around.
And finally here's a picture I finally managed to get of the blue jay family in the next door neighbor's overturned trash can lid full of water. I had trouble getting a good picture of these guys, even though every time anybody goes outside, the parent jays go nuts swooping around and screaming. The fledgling blue jays look almost exactly like the parents, just a little bit scruffier. The main way to tell is their behavior. The parents are the ones attacking people, while the kids are the ones always begging for food.

There was also a fledgling mockingbird around, but when I tried to get its picture, Mom and Dad were all, "Oh no you don't!" and quickly lurked Junior away while making angry alarm calls and swooping at me. Blue jays and mockingbirds are two birds species you really don't want to mess with.

No comments:

Post a Comment