[Tweeters] Western Wood-Pewee Nest - Image

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Wed Jun 24 21:19:06 PDT 2009

Hi everyone,

While driving back from my recent float trip in central Oregon, I stopped to bird a bit in Klickitat County.  At one stop, I found a Western Wood-Pewee (WEWP) nest.  The nest, with the occupant perched on the rim, is shown in the following photo link at http://www.tubbsphoto.com/-/tubbsphoto/detail.asp?photoID=8549729&cat=38984 .  The nest is of textbook (Peterson's Field Guide to Bird Nests) location and construction for a WEWP.  That is, with one significant exception.  Peterson gives the minimum height of a WEWP nest as 15 feet off the ground.  This particular bird chose a horizontal limb less than six feet off the ground, and very much out in the open - isolated from other concealing limbs.  Perhaps the nest builder is a young and inexperienced bird...?  As can be seen in the photo, the nest would be extremely well concealed when viewed from below because the lichen used in its construction makes it look very much like a simple bump on the limb.  Except this one can be seen from the side, and it stands out like a sore thumb, especially when the bird is making sorties to catch bugs periodically. 

The nest occupant (presumably the female) appeared to be incubating eggs, but only sporadically.  She would spend some time flycatching, then return to the nest and sit, but soon head out to flycatch again.  At one point I saw a second WEWP sitting nearby, but if that bird was the mate it did not appear to be assisting in any way.  I did not go near enough to the nest to check out the contents, although its height would have allowed this pretty easily.  The only thing from a protection point of view that this bird nest appeared to have going for it was that the limb that it was built on was in a tree that was inside the fence of a small cattle pasture.  The barbed wire fence and presence of cattle inside the enclosure might discourage predators (or overly curious humans), but it still didn't seem that the probability of a good outcome for this particular nest was very high.  It did offer an unusual opportunity to study and photograph the nest construction.

John Tubbs

Snoqualmie, WA

johntubbs at comcast.net


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