Last week I was out in the orchard, pulling weeds, and startled someone in our ‘Flavor Delight’ Aprium tree.  Not thinking much of it, I went back to weeding.  Throughout the afternoon though I noticed a rather drab bird darting in and out of the branches.


When I was sure the bird in question wasn’t around, I took a closer look, and found this perfectly constructed little nest.

The nest seems to belong to some American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis).  The females can be difficult to discern from the Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria), but recently as I’ve only seen the American Goldfinches in the orchard, I suspect this nest more likely belongs to them.

This morning I took the binoculars out so I could see if anyone was home without disturbing them, and sure enough, I found this female on the nest in full incubation mode.


If you were with us last spring you might recall a pair of Pacific Slope Flycatchers (Empidonax difficilis) decided to build a nest on our front porch light. Sadly, although all the chicks hatched, the next day the nest was robbed by one of the numerous predators on the farm that seized an opportunity for an easy meal.

However, undeterred, our Pacific Slope Flycatchers are back this spring, nesting on a different part of the house.  This time they’ve chosen to build their nest on top of the telephone company wiring box mounted to the exterior wall on the quiet side of the house.

I found the nest while I was taking some recycling out to the bin, and heard a flutter behind me.  As soon as turned around, I saw the nest, and I knew exactly who had built it.  Pacific Slope Flycatcher nests have a fabulous way of making it look like I never sweep around here.  As the female was gone for a moment, I took a quick peek to see if there was anything inside.

Again though it seems, to my non-bird brain at least, to be a rather poor choice of location.  Although there’s less foot traffic here than by the front door, this nest is significantly lower to the ground, about half way between my waist and my shoulders!

This morning  the female is hunkered down in full incubation mode, and although I have my doubts, hopefully this time the young will go unseen.

Clearly these birds seem rather challenged when it comes to finding secure real estate.  Although we really can’t fathom why they insist on nesting on the house, we really don’t mind, and will just avoid that side for a couple of weeks until after they’ve hatched.

…and Quail…oh my!

The next nest was discovered by Mr. Curbstone during a routine orchard weeding session.  About to go toe-to-toe with a mighty sow thistle, as the weeds were parted, a small clutch of eggs was revealed on the ground.

For the past couple of weeks the unmistakable calls of California Quail (Callipepla californica) have been echoing throughout the property.  Usually most of the nesting though takes place on our neighbor’s property, who until recently had significantly more sunlight, and a more diverse array of plants than we did.  We’re slowly remedying that though, and the Quail seem to approve!

Clearly though we must be doing something right, as this is the first year we’ve been aware of a nest here.  Hopefully, in a few more weeks, there’ll be little quail scampering about.

Last year we started to see quail chicks around mid-June.

The discovery of three active nests on the property in a week is a new record for us this spring.  What’s most egg-citing is that most of our acreage is woodland, filled with towering tall trees, so we presume, and hope, that there are many more nests on the farm this spring that we haven’t seen.  Perhaps, for every bird a nest

For every Bird a Nest —
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round —

Wherefore when boughs are free —
Households in every tree —
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high —
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires —

Perhaps of twig so fine —
Of twine e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires —

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house —

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice? 

~ Emily Dickinson