Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan, Canada in the summer of 1995.

I had found the nest of a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the middle of a group of large trees. Because of the surrounding trees there was only a few brief periods each day when the sun illuminated the tree trunk and nest hole.

Both the male and female were busily feeding the young in the nest. This meant that the adults would land at the nest hole and check that the other bird wasn’t about to exit before they entered. There is a photo of a bird exiting while the other waits here.

Here, the male is making sure that the female isn’t in the nest before entering.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker male.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Bathrooms/Outhouses.

This is my contribution to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Bathrooms/Outhouses.

As is sometimes the case, I took a sideways look at the challenge and thought about bathrooms and outhouses in the natural world.

To a bird, any water is a bathroom, here a male House Sparrow is bathing in a garden pond in Nantwich, Cheshire, England. Bathing is an important part of feather maintenance.

Monochrome House Sparrow bathing.

An adult Great Tit removing a fecal sac from a youngster in Hatherton, Cheshire, England. The young produce fecal sacs to allow the adults to remove the droppings and keep the nest clean.

Great Tit removing fecal sac.

Incubation.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Cheshire in the spring of 1987.

I was documenting the complete nesting cycle of a pair of Eurasian Blue Tits.

The eggs are laid and the female has started incubation. In this photo the male is feeding the female while she incubates the eggs. The female will leave the nest a few times each day.

Feeding during incubation.

Feeding during incubation.

Cee’s latest Black and White Photo Challenge is Tender Moments.

I had a few ideas for the challenge before thinking of this story of a pair of Eurasian Blue Tit nesting. Taken in 1987, this is a monochrome conversion of one of the colour shots. However, at the time I was taking black and white shots along with the colour as a local newspaper was running the story of the birds nesting.

This got me wondering if this photo project was the last time I shot black and white film. Certainly by 1987 most newspapers had gone to colour apart from a few local newspapers. If a publication wanted a black and white photo they would often convert a colour original.

To the photo, the eggs are laid. Now the female is incubating them while being fed by the male. In this photo the male has just given the female a caterpillar.

Nesting Eurasian Blue Tits

A species of Wren.

I do know what species of Wren this is but as it’s Throwback Thursday it gives me an opportunity to illustrate a problem captioning certain photos.

The photo was taken in Cheshire, England in the 1980s. In those days most British field guides gave the common English name as Wren. A few would call it a Winter Wren as it was classified as the same species as the North American Winter Wren.

However, over the past couple of decades scientists have been DNA testing lots of species which has resulted in quite a few being reclassified. What was a Wren or Winter Wren in Britain is now a separate species, the Eurasian Wren. The North American Winter Wren has been split into two species. It’s still the Winter Wren in central and eastern North America but the birds down the west coast are now called the Pacific Wren.

To make matters even more complicated the splitting of the various species means new scientific names for some. As my standard photo caption includes both the common English name and the scientific name it means that quite a high percentage of the birds I have on film now have inaccurate captions written on the slide mounts.

So to the photo. It shows an adult Eurasian Wren emerging from a nestbox. An unusual nest site for the species which normally prefers to build a nest hidden in vegetation.

Jenny Wren is a common English name.

The eleventh young Eurasian Blue Tit.

The eleventh youngster in the nestbox wasn’t ready to leave. All its siblings have left and are being fed and taught to survive by the adults. At times I could hear one of the adults calling to encourage the youngster out of the nestbox but it wasn’t leaving. Despite having ten young to look after the adults would still bring in a caterpillar occasionally for the one left behind.

I checked that the youngster was still in the nestbox several times during the day and it was still there that night. I got up the following morning and the nestbox was empty. The bird must have left the nestbox as soon as there was some light in the sky.

Left alone.

It would occasionally get up at the entrance hole but wouldn’t leave the nestbox.

The last young left in the nestbox.