One of my favorite western cavity nesting birds is the Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens). By the end of this post I think you will know why (click on photos for full sized images).
Ash-throated Flycatchers nest in natural cavities in trees or cactus, or in man made nest boxes, or almost any natural or artificial cavity of the appropriate size. They take to Bluebird nest boxes as easily as do the Tree Swallows.
Their nest is constructed primarily or entirely by the female of dry grasses, rootlets, weed stems and bits of dried cow or horse dung, lined with hair, fur, wool or feathers.
This is what the hatchlings look like on the first day, pink and naked.
A few days later they begin to get some color as feathers begin to develop.
Around day 8 their feathers are emerging from their shafts.
And here are the nestlings a few days before they fledge, already showing the yellow, gray and rust colors of their parents.
I went out early Saturday morning to catch the early light on this nest box and enjoy watching the parents feeding the youngsters. They were foraging close by the nest in their usual low flying habit of going from perch to perch on the lower bare branches of the oak trees finding mostly arthropods to feed the nestlings.
Here is one of the adults peering into the nest box with its tail fanned out showing that gorgeous rufous color.
Ash-throated Flycatchers are deceptively quick but I managed to catch this one exiting the birdhouse. Many times, especially early in the nesting stages, they will have a fecal sac in their beak as they exit to drop somewhere away from the nest keeping it clean.
I shot this video and was lucky enough to record not only the calls of the Ash-throated Flycatchers but a few other cavity nesting birds that you can hear in the background. Go ahead and venture a guess as to the identity of at least two other cavity nesting species in the video. You may also pick up the woodpecker drumming around the 43 second mark and one of the nestling’s head popping up at the end of the video.
For more great bird photos from around the world, check out World Bird Wednesday!