Friday, February 6, 2015

Brotherly Love!

Although the rutting season has passed, the males are still sparring, like these two young males.

This sparring is more for sizing each other up and practicing. Full out dominance fighting is seen more with bucks over 3.5 years old and with bucks from outside their range, where it can turn quite violent.

These young bucks are probably 2.5 years old, as their antlers are even with their ears.

This week, we had three larger males, who are at least 3.5 years old, in the area, grazing together.

One male was off to himself,

while the other two were very friendly and affectionate with each other and even licking one another.

Usually the subordinate male licks the face and forehead gland of the recognized dominate male, which usually occurs before or after a sparring match.

Note their dark stained tarsal glands inside their back legs.

Except during rutting season, males usually spend time together throughout the year, away from the females, who can be bossy.

I wonder if these are the twins from July of 2011?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Birdhouse Upkeep!

It's time to clean out birdhouses before new nesting begins and replace old worn out homes. It is important to remove old nesting material to reduce disease and parasite infestation.

The 8 year old birdhouse's roof had rotted through and is being replaced here above with a copper roofed home, which last longer. This home had been used by swallows all last summer.

I traveled around to the different homes to see if I could find clues of who had been nesting this past year and what kind of materials were being used to build the nests.

Up at the top of driveway, at the crest of the hill, is birdhouse #1, which is usually used by bluebirds. When I went to open it, a bluebird can flying out. I left the nest in place, as we have many cold days ahead. It is common for bluebirds to pile up and roost in birdhouses to stay warm, as pictured here:

I was surprised to see a mockingbird feather in here, too. The hole has been made larger and is a well used nesting box. I'll go back in a few weeks and remove the nest then.

On the east side of the upper meadow is birdhouse # 2, where there are several layers of nesting material. On the top of the pile was a male northern cardinal feather, perhaps used for decoration, as I have never see cardinals use this box. There were, also, numerous white, grey and brown feathers. I have seen many sparrows nesting here.

On the southeastern side of upper meadow, shaded by evergreens, which explain the moss growing on top, is birdhouse #3.

 The nest includes plastic material, a few feathers, and soft plant material. There were bluejay feathers present.

The last nesting box, #4,  is on the eastern corner of the fence and was replaced at the end of summer but is still not in use. The old birdhouse had fallen apart and was a 
favorite nesting spot for bluebirds. 

We hope they return. 

We look forward to the coming spring, filled with many new bird families!