6/10 The Very Crowded Nest


What felt like a warm and cozy cradle only a week ago, has now become a prison cell for the gnatcatcher nestlings. There isn’t enough room in the little nest for all four of them, so the oldest ones are continually squirming and stretching and hanging over the edge.


The two oldest are mostly sitting atop the younger ones – in such a small nest, birth order is important.




The parental feeding schedule has speeded up quite a bit, with one or another dashing in with food every couple minutes at most. The next time you’d like to be “free as a bird” think again!


Some real or imagined issue brings both parents to the nest on high alert.


But now at least the nestlings are able to poop over the edge of the nest, so parents don’t have to dispose of the fecal sacs (bird diapers). For more about this fascinating topic –  https://www.audubon.org/news/what-are-fecal-sacs-bird-diapers-basically


The largest nestling is particularly squirmy.




And the nest itself is getting frayed from so much scrabbling.


All this in the midst of yesterday’s gusty winds; the little nest swaying about on its thin but sturdy oak limb.


I was going to end this post by noting that the nestlings were likely to fledge soon. At today’s check-in the nest was empty. But the big oak tree was very noisy, with the thin vee-vee-vee cries of Blue-gray gnatcatcher fledglings seeming to come from everywhere at once. Hopefully all flew the coop with grace and courage, or at least with a good shove from one of their siblings!






















12 thoughts on “6/10 The Very Crowded Nest

  1. shoreacres

    I have some fledged chickadees and their parents in a big cypres tree outside my place, and that description of cries seeming to come from everywhere at once is perfect. This has been a wonderful series. I’m glad they’re on to the next stage of life, and I suspect the parents will be, too: but not quite yet!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Deany

    Very interesting and informative. I have house wren parents coming non-stop to feed their young. I do not know how many young ones there is. I have taken pictures of the parents bringing food, I have seen insects, caterpillars and moths brought back for dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oneforestfragment

      Thank-you Jim! It was a very unique situation, the nest was directly above the spot I often park at the LNC, and placed relatively low for blue-gray gnatcatchers (about 20 feet). The camera for the last two posts is new, and I really like it. It’s a Panasonic FZ300, a so called “bridge camera” with a single 25-600mm zoom lens. It’s a little chunky but much lighter (and cheaper!) than an SLR with a telephoto lens. This model is few years old and pretty affordable – I am pleasantly surprised by how well it can focus on small birds up in the trees!


      1. Jim Sky

        That is quite a co-incidence. I just bought a Panasonic FZ80 two weeks ago for my first “bird” camera, and I have had a terrible time with it. I can only seem to accidentally get it in focus. I think our cameras are quite similar so I must just be bad at this.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oneforestfragment

        I also had a hard time at first too. It’s in the settings – go to the online advanced manual and read section on autofocus. Look for “one area focus” and set it in the middle of the screen. Set high image resolution as well so you can crop. This has worked very well for my model.


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