This is a great time of year for us to watch for the appearance of juvenile animals and young plant sprouts around our county as well as in our neighborhood. Several photos were received from readers taken of young animals observed in our county. Two of the animals are local and can be observed all year round in our county, while the other two may be observed during migration. The animals I have selected to report on are the Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, White-tailed Deer and the Common Grackle.
The deer and the grackle are the local representatives, as both are observed all year throughout most of our area. While I, too, have observed both animals on my property, the other two are not local, but can be found on our lakes along with migrating adults. The Cormorants will breed in both Canada and other, more northern, territories. I have been through a nesting cormorant colony along the coast of Maine, and let me tell you, it is an experience you will never forget. Wear your widest brimmed hat and hold your nose. The Cormorant photo is of a young bird resting on a dried-up lakebed.
I chose the last two (deer and grackle) as a challenge for you to search for in proper habitats, sighting times and, with adequate understanding, observation of their behavior and sighting locations. According to records maintained from the now terminated Bird Hotline, the cormorant can be best observed on Lake Erie all year round, with occasional migratory bursts recorded.
As I write this article, the nesting House Finches and Black-capped Chickadees are darting in and out of the birdhouses I have on my land. Cassidy Furman constructed one of the birdhouses as a school project that the Chickadee prefers, while the House Finch house was built by yours truly years ago. We are anxiously awaiting the appearance of the juveniles of both birds.
I have also observed young American Robins, European Starlings, Eastern Bluebirds and Wood Ducks, to name a few, darting about with eager enthusiasm as they explore their new world for the first time. Not too long ago while exploring the Luensmann Overview Park near Brocton, two juvenile Wood Ducks were in the process of leaving their nest box. Watching these young birds leap out from the hole — which can be anywhere from five to 65 feet above the ground — land and bounce up running to catch up to the calling adult nearby is a sight I wish many of you could witness. While attending the Civil War encampment on the grounds of Fredonia Central School recently, I noticed the activity going on with the bird box trail constructed nearby. Bluebirds and Tree Swallows occupied several of the boxes, and were active leaving the nest sites to retrieve food for young in the nests.
Many species of juvenile animals are appearing now. I am currently observing young European Starlings darting in and out of openings and crevices near my home. Possessing a duller plumage than the adults, they exemplify their youth with their raucous behavior and boisterous voices. I’m hearing it as I type this article.
Birds are born precocial or altricial. If precocial, they are ready to enter the world immediately. If altricial, they are not ready, but must remain in the nest and be cared for until the time is right for them to leave. With respect for young mammals, such as the White-tailed Deer, we observe in our county, they are born almost scentless and with a camouflage coat that hopefully protects them from predation. Having almost stepped on one several years ago in nearby woods, it was amazing to observe its motionless behavior, which I photographed and watched until a snapping sound behind me told me I don’t belong there. Sure enough, it was the doe informing me I was too close to her baby and I better move.
The juvenile grackle is a submitted photo taken as the bird was found out of the nest. The same is true of the Saw-whet Owl. The final animal discussed is the White-tailed Deer. This animal likes forests, swamps and open brushy woodlands. Hunters are well acquainted with the habitats and behaviors of this animal. It is primarily a browser when feeding, preferring twigs, shrubs, acorns, grass and herbs, along with other available foods. Often seen at bird feeding stations, it enjoys a snack of foodstuffs we offer them from time to time.
Remember to send your photos, ideas and column suggestions to me at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
A juvenile common loon rests on a dried-up lakebed.