mystery stick nest has me stumped

dirtgirl(So. Illinois)May 3, 2006

Ok I'm open to suggestion here. Whatever it is that has constructed the stick nest in our front yard has managed to keep itself perfectly hidden, no sign of activity whatsoever.

Here's what I can tell you without the benefit of a photo:


--close to the house, less than 60 yards, and right over the driveway so the commotion of two humans coming and going doesn't seem to be a factor.

-- in the main fork of a large oak tree, less than 25 feet up.

--A big thing, roughly the size of a large squirrel nest, only not a leaf in sight.

--made of rather hefty sticks, similar to the kind that you might see in a crow's nest

--it's not flat in appearance but rather round, and quite deep.

I hate to admit it but my husband noticed it first and had to point it out to me, the one who lives in the yard. Initially I thought it was just a ball of debris where several small limbs had gotten wedged during the run of storms we have had, but upon closer inspection I agree with him...something put it there.

The owls are already fledged, the crows are already nested (and are not crazy about human visitors anyway so that's out) and I think kestrels are supposed to be cavity I am wondering what we have going on here and when I will finally see something coming and going.

If it's just the squirrels then rthis would be the first time those little suckers ever threw a nest together in this yard and omitted the leaves!

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catherinet(5 IN)

Hey Dirtgirl,
How close to water is it? Is it really loosely made or pretty dense?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 6:20AM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Dirtgirl, how long has it been there? Could it be a Cooper's (or sharp shinned) hawk, although only 25' up seems a bit low? When Mom Cooper's was incubating on the nest on my property, I would seldom see her. Once the chicks hatched, then the male would often call to her when he was coming in with food, but the chicks are totally silent when in the nest.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 8:14AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I was wondering about a Coopers too.....but only based on things I was reading in my "Birds'Nests" book by Peterson.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 12:12PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

We have Coops/sharpshinners here like crazy, and they do frequent the yard, but they seem VERY leery of us. Would they put a nest that close to us when there are an additional 30 acres of good stout trees just about any direction from the yard?
This nest is fairly dense looking, not like a dove or cuckoo would put together. I will start watching for 'poops' since most birds eventually have a whitewashing effect from coming and going.
THe nearest water is about 200 yards away, unless it keeps raining. Then it will be about 35. I wish I had been paying more attention. I would know a) what had been building this nest, and b) how long it's been around.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 3:54PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

How early in the a.m. do you get up, Dirtgirl? If you go out very early to watch the nest and if it's occupied, you might see one of the birds bringing food to the nest sitter.

"My" Cooper's male was not at all timid - he'd often sit in a tree right in front of the house and let me walk under him and take pictures.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 8:39AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

not early enough!! I am usually up by 8 , but that is if I'm in bed before 2 or 3.
Did the other birds scold or harrass the coopers?
And I guess it is also possible that this nest was built and then abandoned.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 1:46PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Maybe it built the nest when no one was around for a few days? I've had that happen with smaller birds. We'll be gone for a few days, and when we get home, they realize they've built a nest in a real busy place and leave.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 3:29PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Dirtgirl, the first nest a pair of Coopers built here was, although high up in a white pine, exposed for all the world to see.

Everyday for a couple of weeks I would come home from work and observe the progress the pair had made.

One day I got home and saw something in the nest. Oh, good! She is incubating! I got my binoculars to take a better look and what did I find in the nest but a huge old 'coon, sprawled out, four legs hanging over the sides of the nest. I was so angry. Needless to say, that was the end of the Coopers for that year.

So maybe that's what happened to the occupants.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 7:18AM
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find out? :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:28PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

not so much as a rustle from the nest or anywhere around it.
Except that a hen turkey was roosting not 30 yards from the same tree last night and just about stopped my heart when she vacated premises. I had no idea she was anywhere around.

I will keep an eye on the nest but all seems too quiet.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 6:58AM
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thanks for the update, dg. i can imagine that turkey! i had one in protection mode one day jumping, flapping and squawking. "ok, mama. i'm going"

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 7:37PM
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