365 Nature – Day 108

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.


Our backyard wildlife habitat continues to be exciting – and terribly distracting. When I arrived back home yesterday my family was excited to tell me about a pair of robins which had chased away a crow from our front yard and they thought there may be a nest. This morning the first thing I did was watch the font yard and it wasn’t long before I saw a robin gathering nest materials around the yard. I watched patiently until it flew up into our camellia alongside the driveway. It’s not my favorite plant, it came with the house and it constantly grows so large its heavy branches hit our cars and I have to regularly prune it back. But I’ve left it so far because the birds shelter in it regularly. As I watched the robins, a crow visited our maple tree and both robins flew at and harassed the crow leaving no doubt to it being unwelcome in the front yard. (video below)

We went out to pull some weeds later in the morning and I took a look in the camellia a little closer and was able to find the nest. It’s in the middle, quite difficult to see and I won’t have the luxury of watching it from inside the house. The best I’ll be able to do is watch the adults coming and going as they finish building and then incubating eggs. Once they are done for the year I’m looking forward to poking my head in to examine the nest in better detail.

As far as I know, in the nearly four years we’ve lived here we’ve never had a bird nest in our yard. It’s a great accomplishment that this spring we have two. The Bewick’s Wrens who were building a nest in our red nest box seem to be taking a break. I’ve seen them around the yard, but they haven’t been at the box that I’ve seen at all for the last few days. I read they are known to take long breaks while building nests so I won’t worry about it yet.

Birds aren’t the only creatures making homes in our yard this spring. There are several paper wasps building small nests in my insect hotel and I watched a Spring Azure butterfly laying eggs on the Pacific Ninebark on Day 100. The egg sac I found on our picnic table on Day 99 has hatched, but I have no idea what came out of it. I’m planning to bring the case in and look at it under the microscope.

The large black bee that I also found buzzing around our table on Day 99 continues to visit the table and climb up into the screw holes. Today I noticed it had a bright yellow underside. It’s been next to impossible to get a photo of it because it constantly moves and its flight is very quick and not at all smooth. Today after lunch I laid down under the table (the neighbors are used to me doing strange things) and examined the holes. I found three that look like they’re finished, they’re all filled with mud. Two more appear to be in the process of being filled with mud. In one, there is a layer of mud at the bottom of the hole and a small hole in the mud layer. I waited patiently for the bee to return and then watched it fly up into the screw hole and then into the small hole in the mud to a little room it made. It’s very difficult to see, but I managed to get a video. (I apologize for it being sideways.)

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist and writer based in Seattle. She founded and writes The Metropolitan Field Guide, a blog for ideas, thoughts and resources for the design of urban wildlife habitat and has contributed articles to a variety of other websites and publications.

Kelly has a certificate from the University of Washington in non-fiction writing. She continually takes classes and attends talks on various natural history topics. In 2009 she earned a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

She's also an avid photographer focusing on the natural world.
Kelly Brenner
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