On your average walk through most natural areas around Portland a birder will see and hear probably 20-30 species of bird. Songbirds, birds of prey, waterbirds and the like. Each species has different needs for building a nest, gathering food and successfully raising chicks. Ospreys nest right out in the open....if you're top of the food chain you don't need to worry much about predation. Barn and Cliff Swallows build fairly obvious nests under bridges or rooflines and their height above ground and colonial tendencies help protect them from predators. Great Blue Herons nest in colonies above ground and away from most predators.
Anyway, you get the picture.
But of those 20-30 species you've seen on your walk most are smaller songbirds that go to great lengths to conceal their nests from predators. Building and incubating are probably the easiest time. Once chicks are hatched and hungry the parents are actively feeding and much more activity goes on around the nest. You are more likely to find a nest during the nestling phase if you keep your ears open for the frantic begging calls of the nestlings.
So here's what happened to us at the Sandy River Delta on Saturday. We'd had great looks at all kinds of songbirds and had been serenaded by Thrushes and Chats. Walked by this tree......
No big deal, right? A tree. But heard begging and noticed a lump......See it?
Got the scope on it and here they were!!
Four Cedar Waxing nestlings well concealed on the branch! Parent had just fed them and left so they were lolling about in the heat. Waited for parent to come back and shot this video:
Why are they so noisy when the parent has been so careful to conceal the nest? We take it for granted that baby birds make noise or that any baby makes noise, for that matter. Does the struggle to get the most food and leave the nest simply outweigh the possibility of being found and eaten? Anyone out there have information on that subject?
Keep your ears open and maybe you'll find some babies, too!