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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Corpse in the nest box

Neighbor Richard's titmice are nesting again and he and his Mrs have been viewing the family life daily on their TV monitor. (They're using the same Harbor Freight set up I was using for the screech owl).

I've been remiss in maintaining my own titmouse box.

It's been hanging by a thread of weathered bungie cord since last fall, swaying in the breeze.

Believing it was unsuitable and abandoned, I took it down for repair on May Day.

Pried it open in the garage, and to my surprise found 6 warm eggs.

I got another surprise when I put my glasses on.

The mound of fluff next to the entrance was a mummified titmouse.

Makes you wonder.

Did it die last winter or early this year?

Did the surviving member of the pair take another mate? Or are they a new couple?

The only thing we know for sure is that a dead conspecific didn't deter the new pair from getting on with nesting.

I repaired the box (without the use of hammer), and as the resident pair chirped nearby I secrured it to the live oak in the potting shed.

[May 4 update -- all is well -- the titmice are brooding.]



Trailblazer said...

Huh....very interesting!

It does make you wonder what happened.

Glad the pair kept on brooding after the repair.

biobabbler said...

Wow. Who knew? Guess they were REALLY motivated and they REALLY like your house. Glad you got caught up. =)

Samantha said...

That's quite strange! I guess good real estate is hard to come by.
So glad the current pair kept on.

Mr. Smiley said...

Hopefully the setup is snake proof.

No snail bait was around for the hapless adult to pick, was it?

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yes, it was strange, but we don;t use snail bait, so it was "natural" death. As for snakes, raccoons, and bears, it is not protected.

Ginnymo said...

That is sad about the bird dying though. But happy that everything is okay now.

Sebastian Kennerknecht said...

we will never truly understand nature....and that is simply awesome!