By Craig Flockerzie, Park Tech II
While working at Blues Creek Park in mid-June, I observed two brown thrashers making frequent trips to a small ash tree. This young tree was just outside of the mowed area and growing through a dense thicket of multiflora rose, covered with wild grape vine. Being that this was ideal nesting habitat for brown thrashers, I waited for them to leave the area and quietly approached to investigate. I found an empty nest approximately five feet off the ground and easily accessible due to the fact that it was on the side of the tree facing the mowed area. The nest looked to be fully constructed and did not appear to have been used. I hoped to find eggs on my next visit.
I returned to the nest on June 24th and was delighted to find two eggs in the nest. Brown thrashers typically lay between two and six eggs each time they nest. These eggs are laid one per day which will usually give you an idea of the date when the first egg was laid. This would only be accurate if you returned to the nest within the next couple of days and found additional eggs. Upon checking the nest two days later I found that there were still only two eggs, making the exact date of the first egg unclear.
Nearly a week had passed the next time I inspected the nest on July 2nd. Both parents incubate the eggs for between 11 and 14 days, so I expected to find eggs still in the nest. One of the parents was sitting tight on the nest, not allowing me to see what was beneath it. I took a couple of photos and then quickly left the area so that I wouldn’t stress the adult.
One week later on July 9th, I did not see either adult near the nest. I cautiously walked to the nest and found two small babies side by side in the nest. Before I could get a photo, both parents flew into the tree to protect their young. Both parents were shrieking loudly, showing their displeasure with my presence. I managed to get a couple of quick photos of one of the perturbed parents before exiting the area.
On my final visit to the nest on July 16th, I was unhappily greeted by the parents once again. The two nestlings were starting to look more like their parents. They had tripled in size and their feathers were growing in nicely. They would be leaving the nest soon and learning the ways of their new life from their parents.
There are so many amazing things in nature that we can enjoy if we just take the time to observe what is occurring around us. With the uncertainty that we currently find in our lives it is easy to get focused on negative things, but if we keep our eyes open there are wonderful things happening all around us.