Monday, July 25, 2016

Juvenile Boot Camp

Northern Flicker(Red-shafted)
Right now, up in the mountains, around the grasslands, hopping around the cacti and playing in the canyons, many Arizona fledglings are learning how to be birds. AND SURVIVE! Each species is unique when it comes time for raising their young ones. 

Yellow-eyed Junco just developing the yellow eye:)
Yellow-eyed Juncos work together as a team.  The young ones stick together and hunt along the ground for food.  

Olive Warbler
Olive Warblers learn how to fly for the first time as the parents lead them from branch to branch. Sometimes if they stray too far, they remind the little ones to return to their location. 

Red-faced Warbler
Young Red-faced Warblers are curious just like most juveniles of our planet's species (which includes our own).  Parent's keep a close eye on their young ones when a Cooper's Hawk or Steller's Jay gets too close. An alarm call goes out and parents will actively chase the predators away. 

The smaller birds, like this young Bushtit, try to figure out how to eat this ant.  It takes the bug and smacks it many times against the branch.  And then again and again until the bug is dead.  Many of his siblings are doing the same.  The parents know that with time and practice, they'll be pros. 

Some birds, like the Cordilleran Flycatcher, just sit on a branch and wait for Mom or Dad to come feed them. Then the parent's call their young one to fly to their new position where they'll feed them again. Clever flight training technique! 

Cordilleran Flycatcher
A young Bridled Titmouse tries to take down a very large moth that is much bigger than the bird.  It grabs the wing of the moth and the moth pulls the bird with it!  Once again, Mom and Dad save the day and help out!  

An older photo not taken from this photo shoot but one to help tell the story of the Bridled Titmouse
Young birds MUST learn quickly how to survive.  It's a do or die world out there in the land of Nature.  They face so many obstacles and as we observe these young birds, we hope they make it. Sometimes, it's heart breaking to observe a Steller's Jay take down a young Dark-eyed Junco while the parents helplessly scream and attack the Jay. But we understand that the Jay is also part of the world and needs to survive. 

Other times I am mortified by what I see. Here are some stock photos from a couple years ago.  I see babies jumping out of nests and parents and older siblings flocking around the predator to make sure the young ones survive.  Again, I do nothing in this case.  It's part of Nature.  

Pyrrhuloxia on high alert
 But when I see the young ones on the road where they can get run over by a car, I do assist because most headphone wielding joggers or drivers aren't paying attention to their surroundings. I block traffic and allow these young ones passage to the other side of the road where they will be safe.  

Mom is waiting with food once the young are off the road.  Dad and Uncle P are screaming at the snake while the fledglings bounce out of their nest onto the road. 
Anytime, humans are involved, I will break the Prime Directive of Birding and assist when needed.  They already have enough to worry about and don't need the human threat added. Fortunately, the Pyrrhuloxia story ended well.  As for the Coachwip(Red Racer) snake?  Well once the birds were off the road, I backed away carefully.  It's a beautiful snake but I've seen it get nasty with Herpers when they try to hold them.  That's why I don't hold snakes or lizards:)

We had a great time helping Jeff from Madison, WI find his lifers on Mt. Lemmon.  And while he found his lifers, we observed some amazing parent/fledgling activity. Every time I go out into the field, there is ALWAYS something new and different happening. 

Life is good.  Until next time.......


  1. I too love this time of year watching the birds ---so busy, raising their little families... The woodpeckers are so CUTE as "Juvies" ... AND--I love the Baby Cardinals --who are almost larger than the busy Papa who is feeding them... Birds are just amazing, aren't they?

    Great set of pictures.

    1. Thanks Betsy! Every year I do this, I notice more and more detail on these birds. It's pretty awesome. Hope you are well. I've been following you more on FB and enjoying all your pics and adventures:) You and George look great!

  2. Awwwwwwwww, Mt. Lemmon. Once again, ol' home week for me. Such wonderful memories and beautiful pictures in my mind right now.

    I enjoyed this post immensely Chris!!! The fledglings and the parents and the means of survival. But, your are BRAVE getting out to stop traffic for them. I wouldn't do that here. Well, maybe a desolate road, but not too close to the city and the 'whacko' drivers. I'd be a statistic.

  3. ...fledglings learning how to be birds---love it. Several of these are new to me and would like to see one day.

  4. My favourite is the Junco. Nice images.

  5. More great photos and info. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Beautiful birds! Love that red-faced warbler, and the little flycatcher! That Pyrrhuloxia I thought was being attacked at glad to finally realize all was well! One of my favorites is the sweet little verdin which stays in my yard, enjoying my hummingbird feeders every day. I am sure I will miss them. This morning one was chirping at my window trying to find a good purchase at the nectar feeder. I can get right up to the glass and look at their sweet little faces. But....Oregon will hold many wonders, I know! Thank you, by the way for your long and interesting comment on my post! It is amazing we haven't had more rain s far this monsoon season! Love your posts always. Hope you get to Oregon one day too....I am sure hoping we finally make it up there! It seems to be taking forever! :-)

  7. Great blog and a fantastic time with you and Gordon! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  8. Great blog and a fantastic time with you and Gordon! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  9. Que preciosos pajaritos también… Que maravilla es la naturaleza.. Un saludito

  10. What a wonderful and educational post for non-birders like myself. I love them, I feed them, I watch them in my yard and at my feeder, but I know little about them. Everything I read fascinates me. Your post taught me so much and your photographs were stunning. Thanks you for sharing and taking the time to write and give us such interesting information about each shot. genie

  11. Ahh! The joys of watching, rather than rushing round and ticking off birds on a list!

    A delightful post, Chris, with great observations!

    Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  12. Such an interesting post Chris and super photos. I love watching all the young birds at this time of year - an endless source of pleasure.

  13. Interesting post. I often wonder how any baby birds make it to be adults with all the predators and human made traps they have to negotiate. Great photos of the young ones.

  14. Beautiful birds..great shots..Some new ones to me..nice post

  15. Interesting post - the post fledgling stage must have a really high casualty rate for most birds.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  16. You did so well, getting shots of so many youngsters! That yellow-eyed Junco is especially intriguing. It is difficult not to intervene in predator-prey encounters. I once had a young cottontail run almost to my feet with a weasel following it. The weasel caught the little guy and I ran to help. The weasel let go but kept watching from about 20 feet away. The rabbit had a wound on its neck and I should have left it alone, but I put it in a box with a bowl of water and covered it with a towel. Even though I placed it in the garage the weasel got in and carried it away! I must have been 10 years old at the time, but it taught me a lesson about the ways of nature.

    1. That is a great story! Thanks for sharing it. It's easy to understand why we use the word "weasel" in our language. Like "he weaseled his way back into the group" or in your case, "weaseled himself into your garage!" Cool story but yes. It's hard to watch nature at work sometimes. It eat or be eaten story out there.


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