We celebrate all fathers this month, but the bird Father-of-the-Year Award goes to the Downy Woodpecker. Though they share daytime nest duties with their mate, only the fathers incubate the brood at night, and they roost in the nest until their offspring fledge. Also a true family man, Mourning Dove dads love to raise families. They may have up to six clutches per year, the most of any North American bird.
As bird families are forming, they become a part of your family’s world, too. The next generation of youngsters are making their first appearances everywhere around your yard! Watch for birds feeding their young. Baby birds are seen relentlessly begging for food as
parents introduce them to food sources and feed them until they are ready to stick it out on their own. Look up to see young raptors starting to fly. They will return to the nest every day for food and grab anything their parents bring in. Check out local cams, such as those on http://explore.org for up close views of bird families.
Phainopeplas, with a name that comes from the Greek for “shining robe,” move into coastal areas from the desert for a second nesting. With shiny black feathers and a showy crest, they live up to their name. They specialize in eating berries, but will swoop from high trees to catch bugs.
A bright-orange beak and black head cap announce the Caspian’s Tern, the largest tern in the area. They nest in locations where they can be left alone, such as islands (Catalina) and estuaries (Bolsa Chica). Anyone bold enough to disturb a nest may be greeted by a diving, sharp-beaked parent, employing the same weapon they use to spear fish. Also seen along the coast, Least Terns are fledging their young.
June is National Rivers Month. Take a moment to think about your favorite river and how it helps sustain important wildlife and our communities. If you would like to discover our local river, visit Friends of Los Angeles River at www.folar.org.
By Julie Rensink Hanson -Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop
The Wild Bird Unlimited Nature Shop is located across from the Armstrong Garden Center. Call them at 424-272-9000, or go online to www.wbu.com/santamonica