Tag Archive: nest

Hypnotic Swirls

hornet's nest

A white faced hornet nest, complete with cute hornet face poking out. Image taken by Dawn Collins.

A colleague of mine sent me these beautiful pictures of a white-faced hornet (aka bald-faced hornet) nest. These wasps are a relative of yellow jackets and not true hornets.

hornet nest

A white faced hornet nest. Image taken by Dawn Collins.


The challenges of motherhood are many.

It requires a ton of patience.

humming bird

A mama humming bird on her nest. Image taken at the San Franicsco Zoo.

humming bird

A mama humming bird on her nest. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

You have to carry a lot of extra weight.


Baby Hasani and his adopted mom. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

You have absolutely NO privacy.


A flamingo chick, hiding in the safety of his mom's feathers. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

And let’s face it; your young won’t stop until they’ve sucked you dry.


A young elk, getting a drink from mom. Image taken in northern California.

And the worst part is, one day you have your brood all together…


A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

But then you look up and they’ve all gone their separate directions!


A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

But wherever they go, they’re following in your footsteps.


A peahen and her chicks. Image taken at the West Coast Game Safari Park in Bandon, Oregon.

And they’ll always look up to you.


A seagull and her well camouflaged chick. Image taken at Sea Lion Cave, Oregon.

And need you and love you.


A baby rhino with mama Elly. Image given to me by the San Francisco Zoo.

Thanks, mom, for handling all of these challenges LIKE A BOSS!!! Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Fluffy, Fuzzy, Downy, Chirpy Chicks!

flamingo chick

A flamingo chick stands up for a stretch. Image taken at the San Francisco Zoo.

This flamingo chick is standing on a mud mound nest that is around 12 inches high, so that it won’t flood, and near shallow pools of water, offering it some protection from predators. Its parents have a pretty unique trait among birds; they can produce a type of “milk,” a trait they share in common with pigeons. This lucky chick will feed off that milk while its in the nest.

seagull chicks

Three seagull chicks came out from hiding to explore the cliff side. Image taken at the sea lion caves in Florence, Oregon.

I almost missed these little guys with their stellar camouflage, perfect for hiding out on rocky cliffs.

cliff swallow chicks

Cliff swallow chicks waiting for one of their parents to return with food. Image taken in Northern California.

Cliff swallows’ nests are found on cliffs, buildings and bridges and are comprised of tiny mud pellets. These birds will often nest in huge colonies, so parents can detect their own chicks by their vocalizations alone. In fact, scientists have recorded chicks voices and played them back to see if the right set of parents would come, and sure enough, the parents came to their chicks’ calls. Given this, you might think that barn swallows are really good parents, but I’m not so sure. After all, it is a lot of work and cliff swallows are known to lay their eggs in another swallow’s nest or to lay an egg in their nest and then carry it in their beak to another bird’s nest. Ha! On the other hand, I have read accounts where one parent dies and the other diligently continues to work for two and raise the brood on their own. Impressive.


A peahen makes her way around the barnyard, followed closely by her peachicks. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

Peahens are one of the solo parents in the bird world, not getting any help from the peacocks. These chicks are able to walk, forage for food and follow mom immediately after hatching. In the science world, young that are fairly independent from birth or hatching are called precocial animals. And here’s a close up of one of the chicks:


A peachick takes large steps to climb over the grass and follow it's mom. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

Pirates and Boobies

Peruvian Booby

A Peruvian Booby preening its feathers near its chick on a small rocky island. Image taken off the coast of central Chile.

Boobies really do get the short end of the stick when compared to other seabirds. Even their common name shows a complete lack of respect for the bird. The name booby comes from the Spanish word bobo, which means clown or stupid fellow. There are a couple guesses as to why they were called this. Possibly because these animals were not easily scared off by humans and so were easy to catch by sailors looking for dinner. Another thought is because they have a really funny looking courtship dance, where they walk around lifting their feet up really high and throwing their heads back and clacking beaks. Whatever the case, no respect for the boobies.

Boobies are actually fantastic divers. Peruvian boobies will dive from 15 meters (~50 feet) in the air down into the sea. They dive so deep that they usually pass the fish they are hunting on the way down and instead catch them in their beak on the way back up. Because they dive so deep, they have access to fish that other sea birds can’t reach and so they are frequently the victims of piracy, or having their food stolen from them. In this case, the pirates are other sea birds that can’t dive as deep, such as gulls or pelicans, and are usually juveniles that aren’t very good at foraging yet. And frigate birds are some of the worst pirates as well. The scientific name for the behavior of stealing food from another animal is kleptoparasitism. Isn’t that the best word ever?

Boobies even get trouble from other boobies. Sometimes these birds will chase other boobies around until they regurgitate and then the chaser can steal the meal. Even when they’re chicks they have to worry about other boobies. And not just strangers, but their own kin!  Since boobies lay their eggs a few days apart, one chick is usually much larger than the other and in some species, the larger chick will eject its sibling from the nest, essentially killing it. What’s interesting is that blue footed booby parents will prevent their older offspring from killing the younger, while the masked booby does not. Scientists believe it’s parental supervision that is the difference because if you put blue footed booby chicks in a nest with masked booby parents, one chick will kill the other. And if you put masked booby chicks in a blue booby nest, the siblicide is not allowed. For the record, boobies are not the only birds that engage in siblicide.