Yellowstone Reports

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Drama in the Aspen Grove

This cavity is mine!!!
by Dan Hartman

May 15, 2016

     Every year I look forward to the return of the cavity nesters in my aspen grove.  The grove is situated in the foothills of the Beartooths and for some reason attracks a large variety of nesting songbirds every year.

     Now I know aspens are known for this, but most groves hold half a dozen nests, this grove consistantly has 15-20.

     A couple of days ago I noticed a flicker has moved in to a large cavity and a swallow was sitting in a small hole some 35 feet up another aspen.  Many other birds were present but as yet these two seemed to be the only ones who had yet chosen a summer home.

     This morning I was back to see if any others had made their final choices.

     I soon discovered chick-a-dee trumps swallows.  A mountain chick-a-dee was going in and out of the swallows cavity.  And while the flicker continued to hang out in the big hole, the male flicker was cleaning out another cavity down slope 50 yards.  Could this be in anticipation of a second brood later in the summer?

     A williamson sapsucker pair continued to fly from tree to tree without really picking out a home, but then I caught him across the road drilling a new cavity.

     I see and hear the hairy woodpeckers often but they have yet to center.

     Now the red-naped sapsuckers, (there are two pair), and the mountain bluebird pair seem to be looking for the same type of home.  First I saw the red-naped check out a nice cavity then soon after along came the bluebird pair.  Later, I heard drumming and I found the red-naped constructing a new cavity just above last years home.   But then in flew the bluebirds to chase him away and inspect last years red-naped nest.  (I wonder if they realize without the woodpeckers they wouldn't have any cavities?)

     Anyway, my first audubon warbler just landed on a branch in front of me.  A wren is cleaning out a cavity a chick-a-dee checked out earlier.

     The robins are making a racket and there's a reason why.  A pair of red-tailed hawks soared by above the tree tops.  And there goes a sandhill crane.

     The red-naped just checked out a cavity on the other side of the grove.  I suppose the bluebirds will want to see what makes that hole so special!




View slide show

Wren Cleaning Out Cavity

Flicker Taking Up Residence

How About This One?

Williamson Sapsucker Drilling A New Cavity

Red Naped Sapsucker Drills Above Last Years Cavity

Blue Bird Claims Last Years Cavity

Chickadee Steals Wrens Home

Red-tailed Hawk Soars By