Flycatcher Nest is Robbed…

Posted by on Jun 24, 2010 in Farm Blog, Flora and Fauna, Natives | 32 comments

Last night before turning off the lights, I peeked through the front door glass, and saw the female Flycatcher all settled in for the night on her nest.  Everything seemed just as it should be.


The male Pacific-slope Flycatcher patiently watches the nest

This morning though, although the male was sighted on his usual perch, the female was gone from the nest for some time.  Usually she comes right back, but the nest seemed eerily quiet.  She suddenly showed up, and the male joined her on top of the porch light, and then both immediately flew off together.  Something wasn’t right…


The babies are gone...

The nest, between last night and this morning, has been robbed.

There’s not a single nestling left, and no clue as to the thief, but clearly this predator was very efficient.  This is all part of life here at Curbstone Valley.  There are predators, and prey.

However, it has been an interesting experience watching this dedicated pair of parents patiently crafting their nest, and incubating the eggs.  Although this brood of hatchlings has been lost, Pacific-slope Flycatchers often will lay two clutches per year.


There's still a chance for more eggs this summer...


...and a second brood...

Hopefully the next location this pair chooses to nest will be less exposed, and their future efforts rewarded with a strong, healthy brood, that evades detection from the numerous predators here on the farm.


  1. Darn-it. I’ll hope that the observant, marauding buggers will be misdirected by the old nest if the flycatchers re-do…

    • We’ll leave the nest up, at least for a while. I’m rather hoping they don’t try to re-use it though. I think it’s too exposed on the porch, and they’d be doomed to repeat this. Whoever did this was good sized, as the nest seems a bit squished this morning.

  2. Dear Clare, I have found this genuinely upsetting and I am so very, very sad. Of course, I understand that this is all part of the pattern of Nature but that is little consolation. Even if one of the baby fledglings could have been spared, it would be less dreadful.
    Edith Hope´s last post…Scent and Sentimentality

    • In the back of my mind, I hoped our thief might have dropped one. Just in case, I checked the floor below the nest, and the nearby flower pots, but our predator was very thorough 🙁

  3. Awww, this is very sad. :`(
    Floridagirl´s last post…A Whirlwind Week

  4. Total bummer. That’s the circle of life though. Even though the babies are gone, another animal’s life was sustained by them.
    Dog Island Farm´s last post…Thursday in the City- Meal Planning (Misc)

  5. Oh nooo… I was so excited reading about the fuzzy little babies yesterday, and looking forward to their progress… Bummer…
    Momma_S´s last post…CSA Wednesday, Week 4

  6. I always enjoy my trips to your blog because they give me such a closeup view of Ma Nature and her complexities. I hope Mr. and Mrs. Flycatcher are luckier on the second go-round. Thank you so much for taking the time to record their little family and share it with us.
    graceonline´s last post…Water Wednesday: 3 ways to a lush lawn with less water

    • I’m sure we all would have wished for a happier ending, but for me it was interesting to follow them, even to this point. Nature is never predictable, and always unscripted…

  7. Oh, that is sad. 🙁 Hopefully, they find a better protected spot next time.
    Amy´s last post…Sunflowers and Tomatoes

  8. Sad to see this twist in your tale.
    Elephant’s Eye´s last post…Nguni return – name that cow

  9. Dear Clare – this is such a sad climax to what has been a delightful story to follow. Yes Nature is red in tooth and claw and there is no place for sentiment. But they shall be sorely missed – bet the porch seems quite empty without them.

    Good luck to the Flycatchers for a 2nd brood and a happier outcome

    Laura x
    PatioPatch´s last post…BT has Been & Robbed the Nectar

    • It does seem empty. It sounds much quieter too. I only heard the male’s ‘position note’ call a few times yesterday, instead of the semi-regular announcements I’ve been hearing the past couple of weeks. But, they’re still around…and hopefully shopping for slightly better real estate 😛

  10. Really sad about your loss. I mistakenly commented on your message thinking it was humans who did it 🙁

    I completely forgot about natural predators so pls ignore my comment on Blotanical.

    All the best
    Ibrahim´s last post…Quick update on the Natal plum air layering experiment

  11. Oh Clare, what a sad story. Mother Nature can be so cruel. We have a pair of house swallows who made a nest above our back door. When I arrived up last Saturday, I noticed something on the ground in front of the door. You guessed it, and then I found his brother behind the broom. Quite the shock to my system. Not sure what happened, they were not eaten, so must have just fell out. However it looks like the parents are going to try again, hopefully they will have better luck this time.
    Deborah at Kilbourne Grove´s last post…Wordless Wednesday:Do you see what I see?

    • To be honest, I think it’s more rare that a nest full of baby birds survives. There are so many things to overcome just in the first few weeks. As fledglings they’re even more at risk after their first forays from the nest, but not yet competent flyers. I’ve had a couple of young Juncos bump into the windows this spring, seen fledgling robins carried off by a Cooper’s hawk, and a beautiful Flicker fledging was gripping onto one of our window screens for hours. Good thing our Cooper’s hawk wasn’t on patrol then, or he’d have been lunch. It’s a very tough world out there for these little ones.

  12. I am so sorry Clare~Nature can play rough! Raccoons got sweet nestlings near our front door a few days ago~It’s the only creature I can think of that is that ruthlessly clever and works in the night. I moved the nesting box higher up with hopes the next family will be safe. gail
    Gail´s last post…I Love The Prairie~Wildflower Wednesday

  13. Clare, your photographs are lovely. Fascinating to see life (and disappearance) across the country on your farm… Thanks for the beautiful documentation. – Zoe (in Pennsylvania)

  14. That is so sad about the little babies. We had a little guy fall out of our nesting box but luckily he was still alive and we put him back in. I hope you get a second nest somewhere more safe!

  15. Sorry to hear that, Ms. Curbstonevalley. It always tears at the heartstrings to experience something like that — yet again, most humans aren’t vegetarians either, and in a way, I feel more connection to a big-eyed cow — many people’s favorite — than to a bird.

  16. I was just popping back to comment on how exciting it was to see the new fledglings as I didn’t have time to do so yesterday and now they are gone. I guess that is how nature goes and someone else needed a feed, but it sad to see all that pontential suddenly gone.
    Heidi (GippyGardener)´s last post…Winter Solstice – Who Feels The Warmth of The Sun Today?

  17. While the post is a sad one, you share such great life experiences with your followers & friends. Thanks!! -Shyrlene
    Shyrlene´s last post…"Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight" – 6/23/10

  18. Oh that’s sad. I know it’s part of nature but it’s still hard to see. We had that happen once in a nest that was right out our front door. I hope they find a safer place for their next nest.
    Catherine´s last post…June Pond.

  19. That makes me sad 🙁 I do hope that they lay another clutch of eggs.
    Noelle / azplantlady´s last post…Unrequited Love In The Garden….

  20. Oh no Clare that was one thing I was hoping would not happen. I thought that maybe because the nest was so close to the house no predator would venture near it. I hope the couple make a new nest somewhere safer the next time.
    [email protected]´s last post…The home made edible garden: Wordless Wednesday

  21. Elton John is singing ‘The Circle of Life’ in my head right now…:P

    That sucks that the nest was robbed. Even though I know things happen in nature, doesn’t mean I don’t get sad about it 🙁
    Kyna´s last post…Your Mother Was A Hamster, And Your Father Smelt Of Elderberries!

  22. Clare, I know it is nature’s way, but it is still sad when this happens. I think my robin’s nest in the mock orange outside my bedroom was also robbed. For many days, I could see the mother sitting on the nest, but then she was gone and I haven’t seen her on the nest since (which was why I could finally get in and put down the soaker hose in the nearby flower bed). In my case, the nest robbers are usually crows, and it is the robin’s eggs they are after. Unfortunately, I may have inadvertently contributed to this event by pruning the mock orange; I stopped pruning as soon as I discovered the nest, but by then I had already removed some branches that left the robin’s nest more exposed. I do hope the flycatchers’ next nest location is both safer for them and more convenient for you.
    Jean´s last post…Taking a Deep Breath

  23. What a shame. Do these birds nest in the same place each year?
    Turling´s last post…Big Game Tomorrow

    • They have been known to reuse the same nest each year. I’ll leave this one up for a little while longer this season, but hopefully they’ll select a new location. Then we’ll take this nest down. It’s not a good place for them. In exchange though, we’re shopping for a few nest boxes to place around the orchard and garden to give the smaller songbirds some refuge from the Jays and Cooper’s Hawks.

  24. Hopefully the story continues with a fresh start. I wouldn’t want to see a repeat snatching and would remove the old nest.
    wiseace´s last post…Ninja Deer – Frog Prince

  25. Sigh. It does seem cruel, but would we rather deny the cute offspring of the predator a meal instead? I like the way you look at the whole picture, Clare, and don’t flinch from encountering the Earth as it is. I, too, am working on accepting the whole and not just the parts I like. 🙂
    Meredith´s last post…camouflage 101 focus- week 25