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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Back to normal

Whatever normal is. I feel a little less pressure today since I decided I didn't need to clean out the big tank. It'll take a long time for it to build up feet of silt and when it does I can probably get my husband to take most of it out with his bobcat loader. One reason I had wanted to clean it was all the pondweed. But I like pondweed, it was just that my submersible pump won't work with it in there. Gets plugged up all the time. So while I was pumping the water into the stucco tank today with my big sump pump, I thought, hey, I can do that every year one time and use the submersible in the stucco tank for watering with the garden hoses.

From this tank
To this tank

I solved the Bell's Vireo nest mystery. And I apologize that I gave misinformation. That vireo was nesting along the trail and it never left the nest. Seemingly ever. So I couldn't understand how a cowbird got to it, not once, but 3 times.  When I did get a chance to peek inside, it was a brief glimpse, dark in the nest, and my eyesight is blurry. I thought I saw 3 identical eggs inside. Didn't remember what cowbird eggs look like at the time. I was reassured that all 3 eggs were identical, so no parasitism. A week later I peeked in and saw one unhatched egg and 2 new hatch-lings. The unhatched egg appeared speckled with a hole in it. Consulting my egg book, I learned (relearned) that cowbird eggs are speckled; vireo eggs are plain.

Yesterday I saw two nestlings but couldn't see the egg. Today I was determined to learn if the unhatched egg was in fact a cowbird, which would convince me the nestlings were cowbirds. So I shooed the adult off the nest and removed the egg.*

It was just a stained vireo egg. What a relief! The big stains looked like a hole when it was in the darkness of the nest. I got to wondering when Kelly told me a vireo "does not have the capability to poke a hole in an egg." Thanks, Kelly, and sorry for leading you astray.

I saw a few interesting birds today, including this Olive-sided Flycatcher. At first I thought it was a juvenile with such a thick beak but I guess it's not.

And this flycatcher did not flick its tail, so I guess it's a Western Wood-Pewee. Not sure.

*UPDATE: Forgot to mention until a reader brought it to my attention. When I removed the dud egg one of the nestlings opened its gape and it was all yellow, not red like a cowbird's.

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