baby birds: an intimate look inside the nest, with julie zickefoose

9780544206700_hresIT’S NESTING SEASON, and what better time to talk “Baby Birds”? That’s the title of wildlife rehabilitator and artist Julie Zickefoose’s newest book, and she shared with me some of what she saw, and learned, in creating it.

You’ll hear me say “wow” and “oh!” and “that’s crazy” and “amazing” a lot in the audio version of this interview—because it all is.

I see a lot of birds in my garden, but my experience their offspring is limited, frankly. This year’s phoebe is incubating her clutch on the back porch, atop a stereo speaker as every spring, and when pruning a white pine out back I came upon a mourning dove nest holding two big eggs. Tree swallows have laid claim to two nest boxes, and hairy woodpeckers picked a tree near the compost heap, so my frequent comings and goings over that way elicit much disapproving comment. But I don’t often dare peek into nests at hatchlings and see fledglings—especially not the way Julie does.

In “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest,” she uses more than 400 watercolor paintings and the stories of her intimate encounters to bring the unseen to light, illuminating the survival strategies and developmental stages of 17 species. Amazing.

Read along as you listen to the May 9, 2016 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).


my q&a on baby birds, with julie zickefoose



Q. I made a promise to myself that this would be the year that I really noticed who’s nesting where and got to know not just the adult birds of the garden but also more of the babies. So your new book “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest” came at just the right time–thank you!  

A. It’s a time when a lot of people are waking up to birds, and how wonderful they really are.

Q. How did the book come together? I mentioned that you are a wildlife rehabilitator and an artist.

A. It’s a natural outgrowth of how I’ve lived and drawn and thought and written all my life. I have from a very early age kept journals, and illustrated them. It was only natural for me to want to share the miracles I saw in the bluebird boxes I was checking all summer long.

Since I have a good array of birds nesting in those boxes—not just bluebirds, but Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, tree swallows, bluebirds, Carolina wrens—right there I had six subjects. They were well-protected in my boxes, which were baffled against predations; nothing could climb up to them because there was a stovepipe baffle on the pile mount. So it was there for the picking.

As a wildlife rehabilitator it was legal for me to handle and feed and care for them, so it was natural for me to start drawing them, and it was very, very exciting.

Q. So you just said, “predation.” To use your words from a previous conversation we had, baby birds are “a sitting buffet” for predators. That reality has influenced how they have evolved how they nest, hatch and fledge. Let’s talk about the process and the triggers—and maybe first: some of the glossary of great words involved with this, about baby birds and the condition they’re born in.

BABYBIRDS_PW01A. There are altricial birds [above], and most birds we’re familiar with, songbirds, are altricial. They lie in the nest cup helpless, and their parents feed them. Their eyes may not even open for a week or so. Then there are precocial birds—like ruffed grouse, turkeys, pheasants, chickens, shore birds, sandpipers—that get up with wide-open beady bright eyes and follow their parents right away after hatching.

There is really a lot of difference between the two, and all the birds that I studied were essentially altricial—helpless at birth, though some were less helpless than others.

Q. If people have looked into a familiar nest like a robin’s, they’re like little naked things.

A. Right. They’re almost formless; they look like little blobs of pink protoplasm. To see this thing start sprouting feathers and growing up is just the most compelling thing. And it’s even more wonderful to draw it.

Q. And they’re growing up quickly, because there is no time to waste—it’s too dangerous to hang around, right?

A. The nest is the most dangerous place that a bird will ever be, because they’re rooted in one place for as long as it takes them to grow feathers and to get the strength to climb out of the nest.

The open-cup nesters like robins, song sparrows, chipping sparrows, indigo buntings, cardinals—they leave the nest as fast as possible.  That results in some baby birds that fledge as early as Day 7 to Day 9.

Q. Wow. Days 7 to 9 they’re taking their first flight—leaving the nest, or just hopping out on a branch, maybe?

A. Yes, calling it a first flight is a bit kind. [Laughter.]

Q. I thought I got a little over-ambitious there.

A. Some of them can. A baby cuckoo can fly a bit at Day 8, a yellow-billed cuckoo. But most of them, say an indigo bunting or a cardinal that fledges at Day 9, they still have big parts of their body that isn’t covered with feathers. They are sort of half-naked, and have almost no tail at all and really short, stubby wings. They don’t look ready for primetime. But all they really have to do is be able to cling to a branch, clamber or flutter a little ways, and their parents will find them in the shrubbery to feed.

They keep in touch with their parents with these little contact calls, or chippering calls, so that their parents can come and find them, whenever they are.

Q. It’s pretty wonderful—a real privilege to see a baby bird, and I have to say I don’t see enough of them. Though I know the parents, I wouldn’t necessarily recognize their babies. So your book—the pictures—really helps.

Occasionally I’ll find a nestling on the ground so I’ll learn one species—like a phoebe last year, one who was sitting in the grass, having left the nest on the back porch. As you say, Mom was talking to it across the yard. But I didn’t know what a baby phoebe looked like until then.

BABYBIRDS_EB15A. They can look quite different. Like a baby bluebird [above] is all-over gray and spangled with white, and has just a hint of blue in the wing and tail, so you can sometimes guess. But they often look quite different from the parents.

Q. As we speak and tape this on the last days of April I’m waiting for the arrival of indigo buntings. Is the fact that your home is called Indigo Hill a coincidence or do you enjoy that vivid little bird, too?

A. We named it on purpose. My husband Bill and I were trying to think of a name for our then-40-acre farm (we have since expanded it to 80) that didn’t sound pretentious, or too hoity-toity.

One evening we were bantering about names on the back deck, and an indigo bunting flew over in flight song, which is something they do all summer long and is fantastic. I just looked at Bill and said, “Indigo Hill.” That’s all there is to it. It came naturally. They’re abundant on our place and nest on the borders of the old meadows. They like sumac, they like young shrubs growing up. And they also like wide-open fields because they feed on weed seeds.

Q. I didn’t know that, and I don’t know where they nest here. I read in the book that it took some time for you to find the nest that you write about.

A. They’re very clever. I found this little female that I named Mrs. Piper, and I knew this pair for three years.

Q. Oh!

A. I knew the husband—husband! [laughter]—because he sang every morning around 5 AM on a farm bell right outside my bedroom window. So I named him Piper, from “Wind in the Willows.” Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I saw his mate gathering coco fiber from one of my hanging baskets. I saw her carrying this toward the garage, but it took me quite a bit more time before I spooked her off the nest, and she was almost done incubating three eggs.

It was total happenstance that I found it, and I was so honored to be able to draw the hatching of their young, and the fledging and post-fledging period.

Q. I loved the fact you mentioned in the book about why male doesn’t feed incubating mate—as you say, Mrs. Piper, not that we anthropomorphize or anything, Julie [laughter]—you should hear me talking to this particular squirrel I have known for three seasons now, because he’s black instead of gray and was wounded when he was young and has a bare patch on his back—not mange, thankfully. I confess: We have a conversation everyday, too.

So why doesn’t the male indigo bunting feed his mate when she’s incubating the eggs, or his young?

A. Well, he’s the color of a piece of blue tarpaulin—the brightest color you’ve ever seen. It’s not a good idea for him to keep coming to the nest. Indigo bunting male’s job is to breed with the female, and protect the territory from interlopers, protect his mate from others who might mate with her.

Indigo buntings are birds of very flexible moral character.

Q. [Laughter.] Philanderers did you say they are?

A. Yes. Both sexes. The females will sneak off and mate with other males, and the males will sneak into other males’ territories and mate with their mates. So he has a job to do, and that’s basically singing all day—fending off rivals, and keeping them away from his mate and his territory.

He would draw attention to the nest by visiting it, and so he has no attachment to the young; it’s all up to her, and she’s cryptically colored, a soft cocoa brown. She just takes care of everything.

BABYBIRDS_IB10One of the things I speculate about, is why indigo buntings breed so late in the season. One of the reasons is probably that the weeds seeds they need to eat come up then, and they feed crickets and grasshoppers to their young, and caterpillars, and all that food is abundant then.

But the other thing that occurred to me is that if she is going to raise the young [above] herself, and have to leave and forage and get food herself, it had better be hot, so she can leave those young alone in the nest—without having to worry about keeping them warm.

Q. You remind me when you say breeding late, I never understood until many years into knowing something about birds that goldfinches also nest rather late.

A. Very late—you’ll see them nesting in July and August. You’ll see them feeding young in September on birch seeds. They’ll sit right up in our birch trees and feed them birch seeds.

Each species is delicately timed to the food abundances that it needs, and it’s not going to commence breeding until it’s sure it has a good, reliable food supply.

Q. At milkweed time—do the goldfinch use that floss?

A. They’re more closely associated with thistles.

Q. Thistles—excuse me, yes. In my head I am visualizing what it looks like. At that time of year I will see them come take spider webs from the corners of my windows—not that I am not the best housekeeper outside [laughter]—but I’m lucky and have a lot of spiders.

They will come and gather the spider webs, and it’s the most magical thing.

A. What a wonderful thing to see. I’ve seen hummingbirds collecting cobwebs, but I don’t think I’ve seen goldfinches.

Goldfinch nests are beautiful. They’re made of plant down—thistle down—bound with cobwebs and they’re just a wonderful little creation.

Q. I have also seen the great crested flycatcher—that’s a tongue twister if you say it too quickly—does it live in the Midwest?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. I’ve seen it hunt in the stone walls where I have a lot of snakes that use the warm stones to slough off their old skins. The great crested flycatcher comes and looks and carries away snakeskins.

A. You’ve been lucky.

Q. If you sit and stare out the window long enough [laughter]…

A. ….looking for inspiration.

Q. ….what you see. That’s another potential nest material I didn’t know about.

A. Great crested flycatchers use them almost for ornament.

Q. Oh!

A. They trail the snakeskins out the hole. They’re cavity nesters, and in fact it’s one of my favorite nature quizzes. If I’m walking by the hole and see that, I say, “Now how did that snakeskin get 30 feet up in a tree?”

They trail the snakeskin out of the hole, and there is lots of speculation about that. The thought is perhaps a predatory bird might not want to go near a place where a snake had just gone in, shedding its skin as it went.

Q. Smart stuff.

A.  Kind of neat stuff. Although I had a pair in Virginia use a piece of angel-hair insulation instead of a snakeskin and trail that out of the hole.

Q. Ugh.

A. Yes.

Q. There is a chapter in the book about mourning doves, and I know you have a special affection for them. I think they’re underappreciated.

A. Agreed.

Q. An individual always sits on the peak of my roof and sings most afternoons this time of year, and in summer as well. I don’t know what it is about that spot, but it looks like a hood ornament. And I love their crazy-colorful little legs and the way they waddle around, and the distinctive sound when they take flight. I like that, too.

BABYBIRDS_MD07A. Yes, pretty wonderful, isn’t it? I love mourning doves [above], and I think people don’t give them enough credit for being smart . They’re actually really fascinating birds. They were especially interesting to me because I was intrigued by the question of how a bird that subsists entirely on a vegetarian diet manages to fledge its baby fully feathered and flying pretty well at Day 12.

So these things hatch—there are always two; it’s an obligate clutch of two—and they are flying and out of the nest by Day 12, which is extremely fast to grow a big bird like that. Looking into it, I knew they fed their young by regurgitation, and they make a certain curdlike substance in their crop called crop milk, or pigeon milk.

They are unique among birds with the flamingos and the penguins in being able to produce food in their crop that has nothing to do with the food they have ingested. It’s almost like lactating.

Q. Wow.

A. Basically it’s the epithelial lining of the crop, which is an enlargement of the esophagus; it sloughs off in response to the hormone prolactin, which is the same hormone that makes us lactate…

Q. Wow.

A. …yeah, and they create this stuff that has this amazing nutritional content to it. It’s extremely high in fat and protein. The dry analysis reveals a composition of 57 percent protein and 34 percent fat and no carbohydrate.

Q. Isn’t that insane? How can that be?

A. Isn’t that neat? I know, I know. They’re basically almost lactating; that’s really all I can explain. They feed this for about the first five or six days, and these babies just grow exponentially. The babies just grow like nothing you’ve ever seen.

That’s one of the really fun things about this book—that you get to look inside the nest and learn things you had no idea happened.

Q. In a way, when I turned some of the pages, I though like, “Oh, I shouldn’t be looking!” It’s such a secret place; it has been hidden from me. I know a lot of birds—but I don’t know them at this stage in their life.

A. Yes, it’s certainly a “don’t try this at home” thing [laughter]. Some people are sort of appalled that I have been handling baby birds and taking them out of the nest and painting them and then putting them back in. But I make sure that I am not going to compromise their safety by doing that.

I have to have absolutely secure situations, like baffled boxes or nests that I can access without attracting predators. This is why it took me 13 years to amass the species that I studied in this book.

But yes, it’s a privileged view. Because I knew how to feed them and care for them while I was doing this, I could do this without compromising them at all. In fact, there were several nests that only made it because I was there to ward off predatory snakes and that kind of thing. Because I was watching the nest, there were several babies who were saved from death by strangling on nest materials and things like that. All kinds of stuff—I think people who watch nest cams know that all kinds of weird stuff goes on in birds’ nests. [Laughter.]

Q. One of the things you said about touching them: You make clear in the beginning of the book that what people think is a conventional wisdom—that if the mother bird smells human touch on them, she’ll abandon them—is not true, right?

A. That’s not the case. Songbirds have no sense of smell that we can discern, and they also are very strongly bonded to their young, and don’t desert them just because they have seen a human being near them. They really have a lot of interest in taking care of their young.

But it’s a good thing that people stay out of their nests, and that we think we shouldn’t touch baby birds, because we shouldn’t.

Q. What was the one that broke your heart—the one that when you saw inside the nest was just “beyond?’”

A. Yes, I’d say the yellow-billed cuckoo is the bird that’s so strange and so wonderful that I was absolutely on fire to paint them, because they leave the nest at Day 7.

Q. That’s crazy.

BABYBIRDS_YC04A. And not only that, they’re fully feathered at Day 8, and they develop so quickly and they are so bizarre to look at and paint that it didn’t really break my heart, but it set me on fire is all I can say. [Above, cuckoos at Day 2.]

And finding out something about the nesting cycle of a bird that is completed from the laying of the first egg to the fledging of the young in only 17 days. The egg incubates for only 11 days, and the baby is in the nest for only a week.

Q. What’s the craziest-looking nest you saw? The one with the snakeskin hanging out of it sounds a little crazy. [Laughter.]

A. The house sparrow nest in my yard was pretty funny, because it was full of feathers from my macaw, and cardinal feathers, and bits of trash and candy wrappers—whatever they can find. Cellophane they really like. They’re kind of the junkmeisters. I describe them as the lame North American bowerbird.

Q. Maybe we should call it tramp art to elevate it. [Laughter.]

A. That would work; they are little tramps.

Q. So sparrow nests were all gussied up. I’m always shocked when I seen an oriole nest, because that seems preposterous, doesn’t it, hanging like that?

A. I’ve got an oriole nest that someone gave me that’s constructed entirely of plastic fibers they pulled from an old tarp—that cellophane-looking plastic fiber. Beautifully woven of plastic.

I’ve also seen a city pigeon nest—a rock pigeon’s—made up entirely from the curls of a metal lathe. And a raven nest made entirely of barbed wire—the little piece that the rancher went and clipped off

Q. And it went and collected them? It’s amazing.

julie’s website and books

FIND Julie Zickefoose’s blog at this link; her other books include “The Bluebird Effect” (all her books on Amazon are on her author page).

enter to win a copy of ‘baby birds’

9780544206700_hresI’LL BUY ONE lucky reader a copy of “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest,” by Julie Zickefoose. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments box, all the way down the page after the very last reader comment:

Who’s nesting in your garden, or who usually does?

No answer, or feeling shy? Just say something like, “Count me in,” and I will, but a reply is even better. I’ll pick a random winner after entries close at midnight Sunday, May 15, 2016. US only; good luck to all.

prefer the podcast version of the show?

MY WEEKLY public-radio show, rated a “top-5 garden podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper in the UK, began its seventh year in March 2016. In 2016, the show won three silver medals for excellence from the Garden Writers Association. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station in the nation. Listen locally in the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Eastern, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the May 9, 2016 show right here. You can subscribe to all future editions on iTunes or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

(All illustrations copyright Julie Zickefoose, from “Baby Birds.” Used with permission. Disclosure: Purchases from Amazon affiliate links yield a small commission.)

  1. Patricia says:

    I’m sure lots of birds nest on my property that I am unaware of, because i have old mature cherry trees, as well as evergreens. I know robins, chickadees, sparrows, swallows, nest here, and am hoping the Baltimore orioles will stay and nest here. Both male and female are at the orange halves I put out for them, so they must be somewhere near.

  2. Arielle, coastal Marin County, CA says:

    We have a Pacific Slope Flycatcher that nests above our front door. It has been returning for years, though maybe it’s one of the offspring of the original by now. She always looks so disapproving when we come & go through the door, but apparently it works for them, as many babies have fledged there! We also have a Bewick’s Wren hidden somewhere in the garage, and a wild turkey laid an egg in the field near our chicken coop, but didn’t stick with it. Over the years we’ve also had Western Bluebirds, House Finches, Red Tailed Hawks, Brown and Spotted Towhees, and Scrub Jays, as well as countless bats! The book looks wonderful!

    1. Wow! That’s fantastic. We have lots of finches, blue jay and cardinals feasting on our bird feeders. All I can say…..is that since I got my husband a few bird feeders I have saved myself thousands of $$$$$$$$ in counseling. It’s like his stress levels have gone way down for my super up-tight 36 year old gym teacher husband!!!!! Ha.

  3. Gary Hutchins says:

    We have cardinals, bluebirds, wrens, sparrows, hummingbirds, robins, finches, chickadees, blue jays, mockingbirds, and others. And an occasional hawk after our chicken! Great book!

  4. Jeannine Mitchell says:

    Right now we have red-bellied woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, flickers, robins, Carolina chickadees, house wrens, tufted titmice, house finches, and cardinals either courting or nesting. I can tell by observing them: if they’re at the feeders back and forth all day I presume they’re feeding young. We had a nestbox with bluebirds until yesterday when a house sparrow got into the box and killed the babies. We are heartbroken. How about an article about reducing the house sparrow population?

  5. Becky says:

    We robin’s nest in a crabapple tree that is against our house. We’ve been in this house for 5 years and every year, the robins return there. I feel guilty every time I open the back door as it makes the mother bird fly away from the nest to a nearby tree where she proceeds to “yell” at me.

  6. Leslie Gossage says:

    We have a small bird–chipping sparrow?–trying to set up housekeeping on a slope covered with underbrush. We are keeping our dogs away, hoping that the bird will be able to lay her eggs where she wants. She and a male who hangs out with her visit our feeder. We have many types of birds at our feeder, but we have not witnessed nesting yet in our yard.
    When you said that mourning doves are under appreciated, I had to agree. A feeder we once had hanging inches from our window allowed me to see the beautiful blue ring around their eyes. I love their cooing.

  7. Molly says:

    No one is nesting yet but your discussion has given me hope. Maybe I’ll get some late nesters. Or, maybe, because this is a new home for me, I just don’t know where to look and my birdhouse may need to become a more familiar part if the landscape. Bluebirds somewhere nearby so seeing them is a special treat. Your chat with Julie was fascinating. Thank you!

  8. Diane says:

    My daughters recently had wrens nest in a drawer in their playhouse. They were amused and happy to allow the parents to borrow the space to raise their young.

  9. Jacqui says:

    I usually have Bluebirds nest in my backyard box but got a surprise of Black capped Chickadees this year in that box. I had the honor of watching the 3 babies fledge last week.

  10. marla says:

    We have three bluebird boxes filled with tree swallow nests…the bluebirds were in and out but it seems the swallows won out.
    We had a pair of cygnets hatch out last week and are spending much too much time lollygagging around watching them when we should be weeding and planting…oh!!! What a joyful way to start the morning:)))

  11. Donna L says:

    Wonderful idea to produce this book. My backyard has a water feature we created specifically to draw in birds and we’ve been rewarded with a feast of feathered travelers. I rarely find a nest but I’ve had baby scrub jays in the yard. Last Year I finally found a hummingbird nest with 2 chicks but a jay or 2 crows raided the nest just before the chicks were ready to fledge. I saw all of them while the mother was frantically trying to defend her home. The mother tried again this year I suspect she was raided again and finally abandoned the effort.

  12. Oh, I love how this came out. Great use of the art from Baby Birds! What a thrill and honor to speak with you, Margaret! I’m finally back from my last speaking trip for awhile–it was in Utah!–and came home to find my tomatoes, sweet peppers and basil all frozen to death out in my Ohio garden. Waaah. Starting more seeds today. And the upside is I finally get to garden!! Sure am glad I didn’t have time to empty the greenhouse and plant the planters before I left. I’d have lost a lot more.

    Got a new post on the how and why of pulling garlic mustard over at http://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com
    I rather suspect it will speak to you.

    Seeing this beautiful post was a wonderful lift. Shall we speak again sometime soon? Lots more bird talk to be had!

    Best wishes and many thanks,
    Julie Zickefoose

    1. margaret says:

      Let’s make it a regular thing, Julie — I loved hearing what you shared, and the book is such a treat. More soon!

  13. judy says:

    We”very had the pleasure of watching a pair of blue jays build a nest in a tree just outside our screened porch. They’ve been such good parents, taking circuitous routs up the tree branches to feed their babies. Sadly, a crow raided their nest yesterday and in the ensuing melee two babies were knocked out of the nest. Eventually the mama coaxed the fuzzily feathered chicks, one at a time, all the way around the house to the front yard and under a large gardenia bush. We watched these two amazing chicks hopping after mama, falling into dips in the grass, struggling to get out and completing their very long migration to a hopefully secure spot. The parents continued to return to the disturbed nest all afternoon and evening, we supposed, to feed their remaining chick. Today they have not visited so we fear it was fatally injured. Such brave, fierce, and protective parents. Praying that the others chicks survive!

  14. Kate Lawson says:

    count me in. currently a robin is nesting outside my office window. I talk, she listens. She’s got to be bored so I try to keep her interested. There’s another nest against the shed wall but I have no idea who it belongs to. Don’t want to get too close and scare it/her away. thanks so much for your wonderful blog!

  15. kathleen quelland says:

    I have bluebirds nesting right now and this is most likely the second clutch of babies in this house this season. Every time I pass the bluebird house the male flies out so I assume the males actively participate in the raising of the babies.

  16. Tammy says:

    I loved loved loved this podcast! Fascinating information about prolactin and the doves, and so many other tidbits of information. Entertaining, the gussied up sparrow nests of tramp art! Oh, I was so entertained!
    Margaret, I’ve been listening since I found your podcast while in Afghanistan.
    My hubby and I live in our 5th wheel during this last military tour before I retire. We have doves sitting outside our door frequently on our little water feature. Even at a campground we can enjoy birds and container gardening! Happy spring!

  17. Margaret says:

    We spend hours watching the osprey in front of our property and become very attached to them. We have a front row seat!

  18. Michael Z says:

    We’ve got great nesting area for all kinds of birds. Too many to list them all, but we’re most proud of the hummingbird nests. It means they have come to what we have built in the garden. Just saw our friends for the first time this year last week.

  19. SusanB says:

    I am delighted to see a pair of northern cardinals have selected our tall arborvitae as their nesting location this year. I expect the regular supply of black-oiled sunflower seeds contributed to the couple selecting our yard to raise their young. The mid-section of this tall evergreen was eaten by deer a few years ago, but high above is a thick amount of greenery, somewhat sheltered by our garage, and has provided a homestead for an assortment of birds over the years. Since the tree is quite close to the backdoor of our garage, I have posted a sign on the inside of the door that reads “Keep door closed, Cardinals in progress”, a sort of tongue-in-cheek reminder for my husband and I to use the main door only. We will do this until the babies fledge. I have seen an assortment of baby birds, but never baby cardinal,s so I was delighted to see the cover of Julie’s book to be cardinals and would love a copy to further my knowledge on the subject.

  20. margaret says:

    AND THE WINNER (who has been notified by email) is: Ginny. Thanks to all for participating, and sharing your birds with me.

  21. Mr Bill says:

    I recently got caught up in nest watching baby eagles. The national arboretum had cameras (somehow the cameras did not affect the birds) on a bald eagle nest. We got to watch all teh way from eggs to their first attempts at flight. Great stuff.


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