Ottawa Citizen



Many of the carefully crafted nests now contain chicks and some have already fledged like the robins. There are two main types of nestlings; precocial and altricial.

Precocial, downy chicks are active and leave the nest as soon as they are dry. They will find their own food. Swans, geese, ducks many shorebirds and other waterfowl and grouse have this type. Some chicks are shown food and others, like the loons and grebes, are fed small fish.

Saul Bocian has been watching two families of with

pied-billed grebes their delightful patterned chicks. All the grebes have chicks with a variety of black and white stripes and the pied-billed ones have some rufous colouring around the head. Parents are very protective and the young ones can often be seen riding on their backs, nestled among the feathers for warmth and safety. Loon babies do this, too. Look for photos of the pied-billed grebes at the online photo galleries, Our Baby Book, and Shorebirds. See this year’s growing family of loons at Mississipp­i Lake at the Loons gallery.

Altricial nestlings are born blind and naked and must stay in the nest and be brooded and fed until they fledge. Feedings continue for some time after they leave the nest. The songbirds all have altricial babies and so do the woodpecker­s, hummingbir­ds, kingfisher­s and others.

There are some semi-altricial chicks that are down-covered but stay in the nest with open eyes and are able to walk. The two that

peregrine chicks are hatched are in this group. White and fluffy. Eve Ticknor has been watching Diana tending to her two offspring but she seems to be quite disinteres­ted in the remaining egg that will probably not hatch. Robins

are notorious for nesting in strange places and there have been some examples this week. Pierre Lemay reports a robin has decided that the back wheel of his car is the place for the nest. It has now built one there four times when the car has been parked in the yard. Nicole Parent’s bird has its nest in a hanging planter. It took the female only two days to build it and now there are four nestlings.

Four robins fledged successful­ly from a nest on Judy Warren’s balcony, with her help. Marauding cats were prevented from jumping down on to the balcony by strategica­lly placed pails of water. (Follow this happy sto- ry in the online photo gallery, In Our Backyard). Four more young robins are now out in the world having left a nest on a corner of the porch belonging to Douglas Rutherford.

Beth Huber was delighted to see the return of an unusual leucistic robin for the second year. This bird has a “splotchy white head.” but has not passed it on to any of her offspring.

Another unusual bird was photograph­ed in Orillia by Anne Trounce’s sister. It is a yellow bird with brown markings and two small patches of red on the head and appears to be a Eve

hairy woodpecker. Ticknor notes that Birders’ World magazine’s website tackled a question on this anomaly. It is a fairly rare condition called xanthochro­ism, an excess of yellow pigment and occurs in a number of species, including the red-bellied woodpecker.

Bruce Di Labio has been conducting a tour in Alberta and Saskatchew­an. They saw four

greater sage grouse and eight in the

burrowing owls Parklands National Park, breeding black-necked stilts white-

and faced ibis whip-

near Calgary, and a poor-will

in the Cypress Hills. A major sighting was of 40 and more sharp-tailed grouse

in full display on the lek.

He is now in Churchill where they saw a beluga whale when the ice melted. The rare bird seen was a

lark sparrow, rock ptarmigan

a and a brown-headed cowbird. Pacific

A loon Smith’s

was on the list, longspur, Harris sparrow, para-

a sitic jaeger Arctic terns.

and lots of Don Wigle has a picture of an


carrying a very large bass in its talons. Francine Streeting has another one and this osprey has two goodsized fish, one in each claw. (See these photos at the Osprey online photo gallery at World of Birds.) Saul Bocian has pictures of a

ringbilled gull carrying a small fish that it caught while flying over the water. They are excellent insect catchers as well. (Take a look at these photos at the Gulls, Terns & Friends online gallery.)

Please come to the Wild Bird Care Centre’s open house tomorrow. This is a chance to see the injured and orphan birds being cared for at the centre and to meet Kathy Nihei and her dedicated group of helpers. This is also one of the fundraiser­s for money to keep the centre open to continue the valuable and necessary work it is doing.

Please come, see the birds and show you care about this bird centre.

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