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!