musings of a gay couple living in the Great White North
Tag Archives: broods
By mid-July on the Rideau River this mallard hen has only one of her brood left. She will have started out with a brood of six to eight newly hatched ducklings in May-June, but ducklings fall prey to seagulls, snapping turtles and other predators very easily. Chances are the surviving duckling will not survive its first year of life. This is the reality in the natural world: 85% of the birds and animals born in spring do not last a year, but enough do last long enough to breed the following spring and perpetuate their species.
Three male brown-headed cowbirds perched in the treetops next to the Rideau River, June 30, 2013. The brown-headed cowbird is unusual in that it practices nest parasitism. Cowbirds do not rear their own young. The female lays an egg in another bird’s nest and the cowbird chick hatches and is reared by the other birds. It pushes the chicks of the host birds out of the nest so it does not compete for food. Some species of songbird have adapted to this threat in building dummy nests to lure the cowbird to leave its eggs, leaving them free to rear their own broods.
Eastern kingbird viewed while out for a run with Hera, my friend Jason Quinn and his dog Nos, June 17, 2013. The eastern kingbird is a plucky species of flycatcher common in the area. I see a few mated pairs every spring nesting in shrubs along the Rideau River. They are usually successful at rearing their broods as they mount a spirited defense of their nest and young, driving away crows especially. The often perch on the wires in the background, watching for the insects on which they prey, snatching them out of the air.
On my daily training runs with Hera I found a red-wing blackbird’s nest in the reeds at the edge of a pond in the spot near the Rideau River where I run her. I am keeping an eye on the nest, taking care not to disturb the birds, and in due course saw that four chicks were hatched. I used my camcorder to capture some candid footage of the mother blackbird feeding her chicks.
Bachelor drakes hanging out together on a pond next to the Rideau River May 16, 2013. Their work is done, the hens they bred are incubating clutches of eggs and will be raising the broods of ducklings on their own.