The urge to nest

April 20, 2017

Gearhart photographer and naturalist Neal Maine has been training his camera on nest-building operations lately–it’s that time of year.

Here he shares some of his favorites, all shot on or near North Coast Land Conservancy properties.

This hummingbird at Thompson Creek and Stanley Marsh Habitat Reserve is gathering tufts of cottony fluff to use in building its nest.


Neal watched as this American dipper grabbed a piece of moss, flew to the water’s edge, dipped it, and flew to its nesting site, tucked under a bridge. It didn’t dip every piece of moss it collected: only, apparently, those that needed to be dipped.


Neal has watched this pair of osprey create and refine this nest–set on a single horizontal Sitka spruce limb near Costco in Warrenton–for a couple of seasons.


This female blackbird blends into her surroundings as she pauses in the marsh while gathering dry grasses.


Tufted puffins, such as this pair on Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, don’t collect materials to build a nest; they burrow into the soil with their bill and feet.


Bluebirds build nests of grasses and other materials inside human-made nest boxes or cavities created by woodpeckers. This adult is approaching the nest, in a snag at Sunset Beach north of Gearhart, with food for its chicks.


A Bewick’s wren found just the right spot for a nest: inside the hitch for a trailer parked in Neal’s driveway in Gearhart.


These bald eagles are nesting in a spruce tree in NCLC’s Neawanna Wildlife Corridor. “There’s no downtime,” Neal says. “It’s a total commitment for 35 days” until the eaglets hatch. The male and female birds alternate sitting on the nest and feeding. “Everything is about survival: incubate, get food, incubate … You really have to come together to accomplish good work.”


Ultimately, the payoff: a clutch of healthy chicks. Neal photographed this pair of wood ducks and their 17 ducklings in Neacoxie Creek.

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