AMLE is watching you

Not that I have favorites, but AMLE (Amelie) is my new favorite junco. Most juncos get a bit dejected by the end of the banding process (don’t worry—as soon as they realize we’re letting them go, they perk up), but she was sharp the entire time. When it was time to take pictures, she glared daggers at us.

2013_AMLE5When I lowered her to get a better shot of the top of her head, she held her gaze—and her head—steady. Her body went down but her head stayed up.

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Encounters with baby mammals: sometimes they run, sometimes you run

On our last trip, we had two very different encounters with baby mammals. The first happened when we were searching for nests in some rather strange habitat: the area had been previously logged, then—like all of my sites, rather unfortunately—used for cattle pasture. The cattle presence here had been so intense that the area not only was covered in cow pies, but smelled distinctly like cow. (Ah, nature!) The corn lilies there, usually lush tall green plants, were ragged and brown.2013_mammals_landscapeAnd the whole place was hopping with tiny tree frogs.

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More baby pictures

Recently I found this nest, belonging to female MABY (named in honor of Arrested Development, if you’re wondering) and male ARKM.

2013_morebabiesI couldn’t see clearly how many chicks there were, so I nudged them with my finger to try to get a better look—and they all thought one of their parents was waking them up with food.

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Little creeper and creeping bycatch

It’s fledgling season, and not just for juncos. The other week we ran into this guy:

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Fledgling Brown Creeper

In fact we nearly stepped on him. We picked him up to put him in a nearby bush, where he might be safer, but he had other plans: he hopped right back to the ground.

2013_creeper2He then fluttered and scrambled his way over sticks and even a fallen log to the base of a tree, which he crept up like the Brown Creeper he was—although much more slowly than an adult. Still, it was an impressive thing to watch from such a young bird.

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The fledgling problem

EDIT 5/26/2016: If you found this post because you have a baby bird and are wondering what to do with it, please see this post instead; it will be more useful.

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Being a fledgling—a chick that has left the nest—is awkward.

Junco fledgling MAII illustrates the awkwardness via interpretive dance.

Junco fledgling MAII illustrates the awkwardness via interpretive dance.

Fledglings are at one of the most dangerous time in their lives, facing an average mortality rate of 42% over just a week or two. Most of that mortality happens early, just after the little guys have left the nest. New fledglings have almost no skills: they can’t feed themselves, can’t fly well (or, in many cases, at all) and can’t do anything to defend themselves if something terrifying like a weasel, snake, crow, or even chipmunk decides to eat them.

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