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Seven Little Bushtits, All In a Row | by dwboyd
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Seven Little Bushtits, All In a Row

When I came out my back door, a Bushtit flew from the Rosemary bush beside the door into the nearby Holly tree. Knowing that where there is one Bushtit, there are bound to be more, I looked up into the depths of the tree and was surprised to see a huge caterpillar in a branch near the top. A closer look revealed that the caterpillar was a row of fledgling Bushtits, huddled together on a branch. I thought that they might have been keeping warm since it was a cool day, but it soon became apparent that their mother had parked them there to wait to be fed.

 

A holly tree is dense with leaves so it is usually not so easy to take photos of birds in the tree, but fortunately there was a small window framed by some large branches through which I could view this branch, so I was able to watch the proceedings for about 45 minutes. One by one, the fledglings flew from this branch to other branches in the tree, but the mother returned many times to feed her flock.

 

The fellow on the far left seems to have a funny idea about how to get fed. The guy second from the right (almost certainly a male!) was the most vocal about getting fed and seemed to be fed most often.

 

I thought that the mother was feeding them seeds of some kind, but a closer look at the offering in the mother's beak in the 7th photo shows that it is a aphid (take a look at the photo in the Original size).

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Taken on May 25, 2010