Arboretum: Nests and Hummingbirds

The birds in the Arnold Arboretum are now in the thick of spring. On a cool, sunny morning, I watched them build nests, sing to attract mates, and defend their territory.

Female red-winged blackbird holding straw in her beak
A female red-winged blackbird finds material for her nest

While one of the females was building a nest, one of the male red-winged blackbirds was chasing away a red-tailed hawk.

A male red-winged blackbird chases away a red-tailed hawk
A red-winged blackbird chases away a red-tailed hawk

Oblivious, a nearby song sparrow busily sang.

Song sparrow singing
Song sparrow singing

Gray catbirds were everywhere, one of the most common birds I saw today. They were either foraging on the ground or staking out bushes.

Gray catbird
Gray catbird

I only saw one type of warbler. I know more are around. I spoke to a birder who had seen a number of them near the Explorer’s Garden.

Yellow warbler
Yellow warbler

Here’ a male Baltimore oriole. Orchard orioles are a darker color, but another way to differentiate between them is their tail feathers. Orchard orioles have dark tail feathers while Baltimore orioles have a bit of orange thrown in.

Male Baltimore oriole
Baltimore oriole

I found a female Baltimore oriole building her hanging nest in a honey locust tree.

Baltimore oriole building her nest
Baltimore oriole building her nest

While she went out to gather more material, a red-winged blackbird came by to steal some of the material, probably for her own nest.

Red-winged blackbird stealing nest material
Red-winged blackbird stealing nest material

And, finally, I managed to photograph a ruby-throated hummingbird. This hummingbird was resting on the branches of a hickory tree near the sign for the Leventritt Shrub Garden.

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbird

Where’s the ruby throat, you ask? Well, the plumage is iridescent and so different colors show at different angles. Here’s another photo of the same bird showing the red throat.

Ruby-throated hummingbird drinking from a Weigela praecox shrub
Ruby-throated hummingbird drinking from a Weigela praecox shrub

Weigela flowers, with their long throats, are perfect for long hummingbird bills.

Weigela praecox 'gracieux' flower
Weigela praecox ‘gracieux’ flower

Full list of birds on e-bird

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