full nuptial plumage? It would be an accomplishment if we could clarify just this
one point, or any information on courtship behaviour. Every little bit is welcome
and probably news. Maybe with this sighting Nature wanted to make up for the wrong
it did me the previous weekend....
On May 30th, early in the morning, while the dew was still on the grass, I located
a Least Bittern nest with three eggs, in a wet meadow. On June 1st I checked the
nest and this time there were five eggs. Two weeks later, on June 15th, I placed
a blind in the vicinity. The bird was still incubating (five eggs). The incubation period is from 16 - 19 days, thus there had to be a nest with young very shortly. And then the rains came, inches at a time. On the weekend of the 22nd I could
not get anywhere near the nest. And even if I had braved the rain and waded in I
would not have been able to photograph due to poor light. Instead I got a Carolina
Wren nesting in Russ' bird feeder, with.electronic flash. I finally was able to check
the Least Bittern nest on June 29th. The chance for good pictures of Least Bitterns
being fed on the nest was gone. The young were still there, but disappeared from
the nest when I approached and hid in the grass. - No Least Bittern pictures this
year. And so, the joys and frustrations of nature photography goes on. However,
the sight of the male MASKED DUCK made my heart beat somewhat faster!
(Incidentally Dirk called this observation of the MASKED DUCK to the Rare Bird Alert
when he returned to Houston June 29th).
BIRD STUDY PROJECT by Wallace C. Mebane, Jr.
I onee heard Jerry Strickling say to learn the local birds first. This advice was
echoed recently by Roger Tory Peterson in an article in the AUDUBON magazine.
All members have been asked to select a local common bird for a 12 month study project. This is a good time to start since many of the birds are still nesting. We
can observe the nesting habitat, learn to identify the young, and find out what kind
of food the parent birds bring to the nursery.
I am keeping records of who is studying which bird. Please drop me a line at 7106
Mobud, Houston, Texas 77036 or telephone me at PR 4-9435.
NORTH AMERICAN NEST-RECORD CARD PROGRAM by Wallace C. Mebane, Jr.
One of our newest OG members, Bill McClure, has recorded more nests than anyone else
in the group.
Any member who needs nest-reeord cards may obtain them by contacting me at PR 4-9435
in the evening, or at CA 4-5541 during the day.
The program, at Cornell University, now has approximately 55,000 completed cards on
file, representing 465 species of birds.
The Outdoor Nature Club is one of the 162 Regional Centers located throughout the
United States and Canada.
Consult the Check-list for birds known to nest in our area. Perhaps you can discover
a new one. According to records kept by Noel Pettingell, nests of the Ameriean
Oystercatcher and the Masked Duck were added in 1967.
SPEAKING OF HESTING - The Eds.came across the following article written by Nancy
McGowan in her column JUNIOR SPORTSMEN in the July, 1968 issue of TEXAS PARKS &
WILDLIFE magazine. We reprint it with the magazine's permission:
"Most baby birds come in two styles: altrioial (from Latin altrix, to nurse) and
precocial (from Latin prae, before and ooquere, to ripen). Altricial young
require intensive care for a brief period. Precocial young need minimum care
for a long period.
The altricial youngster strugles out of its egg looking as if it should have
stayed longer. Blind, nearly naked, and totally helpless, it is completely
dependent on its parents for food. The young bird is too weak to respond
to offers of food for the first few hours. The last of the yolk in its stomach
provides nourishment until the parents take over. Vibrations of the nest,