Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher couple building a nest

What a gorgeous day today was. Sunshine and warmer temperatures were exactly what we needed! To celebrate, I picked up my mom (Joni) and Ena and headed over to the Little Miami Bike Trail for a bit of birding. The bike trail is a wonderful place to catch spring migrants. It follows the Little Miami River and is heavily wooded. It seems to be a magnet for the neotropical migrants, and you never know what might show up. 

Today we saw and heard numerous Northern Parulas, several Yellow-rumped Warblers, and tons of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Additionally we saw several Golden-crowned Kinglets, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Belted Kingfisher, plus all the usual suspects you would hope to find in a woodland, including Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, and Pileated Woodpeckers. As we were returning, I looked up and saw a male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher with a small bit of something in his bill fly onto a branch and then walk up to a nest!! The nest was gorgeous. It reminded me of a hummingbird's nest because it was entirely encased in lichens. It was a perfect little cup on a horizontal branch, just like it's described in the literature. We stopped and watched, and soon the female joined him and the couple worked together to build the nest.

This sweet couple worked diligently bringing 
little bits to the nest. They both worked equally.

While the female is off getting a piece of seed down, lichen, 
spider silk, or some other small item, the male is on the nest, 
moving around and adjusting his contribution. You can tell 
he is the male because of the black "eye brow" over his eyes.

The male continues to work in the nest.

The female is surveying the progress. She 
decides the nest needs a little more of something....

...so she comes back with a teeny, tiny bit of lichen in her bill.

She then settles down in the nest and carefully 
tacks the lichen to the outside decorations.

Here the male also places a small bit of lichen on the nest. 

The male and female totally ignored us down below, however, 
this shot looks like he's giving me that crazy bird eye they are 
all so good at giving. With never ending trips back and 
forth carrying small bits of nesting material, they were 
like a nest-building tag team!

23 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

This is so cool, Kelly! It's like getting a glimpse into a secret world! Great photos too!

Kelly said...

...it really is. I've never seen a Gnatcatcher build a nest. I could have stayed there for hours, but as usual, time constraints prevented it.

The Early Birder said...

Amazing piece of construction Kelly an exceptionally well captured.

Philip said...

Amazing shots Kelly that nest looks so sturdy on the branch sounds like you really enjoyed your day :)

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
What a day you got. I'm happy you were able to do that, and to get a very nice beautiful documentary on this bird!! Wonderufl, i loved it and it remind me of a David Attenborrough serie of bird nesting ;-)

Roy said...

Us Humans would struggle to build such an intricate little thing Kelly.

Dave Lewis said...

What luck to stumble upon that! It's hard enough to find the birds around here, let alone a nest under constrution.
Cool!
Dave

Eric Ripma said...

Really cool series of photos. It's always interesting to watch birds building their nests.

Roy said...

What great luck, Kelly! Gnatcatchers are so small and flit around endlessly, which makes them tough to observe, so you had a pretty unique opportunity to watch them at work. Good job!

Mary said...

What a wonderful find! Such a beautfiul little nest and she looks so proud of it :-)

Montanagirl said...

They accomplish so much for being so tiny. Very dedicated! You got a great series of photos for your memory book. Nice work.

Ginnymo said...

This is so cute!! I am always amazed how birds build their nests. These little guys are so tiny. It must take a very long time to get it just the way they want it. I've watched squirrels taking things into their nests but no birds. Great post Kelly!! I'm really enjoying all these photos of birds and babies!!! Thank you so much!! Have a great weekend!!

E said...

Excellent photos!
We really enjoy going there with you, dear Kelly, thanks for sharing those lovely birds and places. The day before was wonderful too, all those great birds with their babies, awesome.
Thank you.
Hugs

Ilan said...

Such great captures! The colors, the sharpness...
Awesome photos, fun to watch. Keep them coming :)

Heather said...

What a neat opportunity for you to not only see it, but capture it with your camera and share it with us. Thank you so much! I'm trying to keep my eyes peeled in our trees for any new nests of any kind.

Steve B said...

What a fun post! Love your Gnatchathers.

Kelly said...

Frank...thank you! They may have one of the most beautiful nests out there (it's so much like the hummingbird's nest).

Phillip...thank you...and it was a great day!!

Chris...thank you! (...love David Attenborrough!)

Roy....I know I would!!! :-)

Dave...thanks...and to top things off, today at the Cincinnati Nature Center, we found 2 more couples building nests...

Eric, Roy, Mary and Montanagirl...thank you!!

Ginny...thank you...and you too!

Enita....I had a great time. It's always fun seeing you. Any time you come to Cincy, let's go out and find some birds!

Illan...thank you...and thanks for stopping by!

Heather and Steve....thank you! (Heather, I love looking for nests too.)

Linda McGeary said...

Kelly, I was trying to put you in a hyperlink on my blog, because I wanted to make it easy for people to find you from my sight, but it didn't show up in the post. Do you know how to do that?
Or any of your reader? I hit the link symbol and put in your address, it showed up on the draft, but not on the post. Am I missing a step?

Kelly said...

Linda, it sounds like you're doing it right. I usually copy and paste the address I'm linking to, but other than that. It's the way I do it. Thank you!!!!

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hi Kelly! Good luck! It is always difficult to find a nest, but it's a luxury to be able to photograph the couple devoted to their construction. The Gnatcatcher are beautiful and you got excellent photos! Greetings!

Laubaine said...

exellentes images , le nid est le debut de la vie pour un oiseau
et c'est un bel instant que vous avez photographié
extra :)

Larry said...

Great photos! The first time I saw one of their nests, I thought it was part of the tree.

Kelly said...

Hi Atanasio...thank you! It was a stroke of luck and was such a treat to watch them add to the perfect little nest.

Laubaine...Merci! :-D

Larry...I read that the nests often look like knots on a tree, so you must have found a textbook nest! Thanks!