On May 1st the shrubs and a couple of trees got a much-needed trimming. This Magnolia tree — planted too close to the house — got a pretty good trim . . .
I noticed something after the landscapers left . . .
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What was now the lowest branch had something jammed between the branch and the trunk . . . Bravely, I ventured out to investigate.
So, two things ran through my head . . . one, good on the landscapers for not destroying or otherwise hurting the nest. Two, I wondered if the parent(s) got spooked by all the activity and the drastic change of their neighborhood.
I wasn’t sure what kind of birds they were but I had my suspicions . . . which were confirmed a bit later.
An American Robin’s nest.
That was shot from inside the house through a heavy window pane of the front door using the Nikon P900. Hence the washed-out look. I also shot a short video . . .
So, two things to note . . . one, the nest is very well constructed. I wish I would have seen them earlier when they were building the nest. Two, the nest is very clean . . . unlike nests by Doves and Tree Swallows.
So, why so clean? Well, this might not sit well with some viewers, but you might notice the Robin picking up something white and swallowing it . . . she’s removing the crap sacks.
Blackbirds do the same thing, only they carry the sacks to the nearest water feature (like, for instance, the bird bath I had at our Colorado house) and dropping them in there. This behavior both lessens the chance of parasites infestations and keeps the odor down so as to avoid predators being able to smell the crap and potentially track down their nests. Crows, which I like, would feast on the young, which I don’t like . . . but nature don’t care what I like or don’t like.
The Robin sometimes do just carry them away, but this one was swallowing them . . . I think humans would have far fewer babies if this was what would be expected of the parents. Also, our landfills would have far fewer diapers . . . a good thing all around.
I walked outside and snapped this quick photo hand-held a second before the Robin flew off.
In case you’re wondering, I forgot to change the settings and I also snapped the photo fairly quickly so it’s not very sharp (“mushy” is the word).
I wanted more photos but the parent stayed away while I was out there.
Enter Nikon WMU app . . . WMU stands for “where my underwear at?” . . . no wait, that would be WMUA.
It’s actually “Wireless Mobile Utility” app and it works with wireless enabled cameras (like the P900) so that you can wirelessly connect the phone to the camera and snap photos remotely. Which is what I did.
I set up the P900 on a tripod, focused on the nest, went back inside and monitored the phone to see when there was a worthwhile photo to be had.
So, that worked very well . . . mostly. When I snap a photo, it also downloads a smaller version to the phone, and it does that automatically. I need to research whether I can switch that off because while it’s transmitting the photo I can’t see what’s happening.
Ideally, I would prefer to snap the photos at will and then transfer them later.
The other limitation is that in this mode it seems to ignore settings like shutter speed and ISO and the option for burst modes and so on.
Basically, the phone becomes a remote without the ability to adjust anything. Nikon has a new version (Snapbridge) for newer cameras but I don’t know if it has more capabilities than WMU.
So, for instance, it was an overcast day and the lighting was poor so the shutter speed was automatically set pretty low (1/30 or 1/40 of a second) and any movement blurred the subject a can be seen in the above photo.
When the bird was in the nest, it sat very still and thus was an ideal candidate for photos shot at slow speeds.
The app does allow me to zoom in and out remotely, hence the different zooms (none of these photos are cropped) . . .
Again, any action shots tend to be blurred as can be seen in this next sequence where the parent brings worms (blurred), looks at the brood (not blurred), settles into the nest (blurred), sits very still (not blurred), looks at the brood (not blurred).
I wanted some actions shots so I used another feature of the camera. While on the tripod, I shot a 10 minutes video. Not remotely; I went outside, switched on the video recording, went back inside, and waited 10 minutes to see what I got.
I then clipped the movies to just relevant portions. This is a 20 seconds clip of the movie . . .
This is a one-minute clip of the movie but only the first part and a few seconds at the end have any movement or action . . .
I was a bit too zoomed in because the upper portion of the bird is cut-off.
However, the reason I wanted the movie is that the camera can pull stills from the movie. There are programs that can do the same on the PC, but I get better results when I do it in the camera.
These are all unaltered (other than being resized for the blog) stills from the above clips.
This is what the nest looks like now that the tree has been clipped . . .
. . . and I fear it’s too exposed. I hope they manage to raise this brood without any problem and then I hope they reuse the nest for their next brood so that I can get more photos.
A few days later, the chicks were noticeably bigger; they’re racing to grow up and head out into the world.
Human mothers should take note . . . a steady diet of earthworms really helps younguns grow fast.
They all look about the same but I notice one is always more aggressive when the parent brings food and I wonder if I’ll notice that when they fledge. Meaning, one will be bigger and stronger. Probably; I noticed that with Tree Swallows as well.
Here’s the gallery of the above (with a few extra flash photos of the nest):
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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