Adult at nest

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Adult at nest

JPG Raster, 15.81 MB

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Photo Comments

Damon S Calderwood
3 years 6 months ago

I photographed a pair of California Scrub-Jays feeding their two young at the nest for a few days in June of 2010. The nest was located very low (2.5 feet) in some hillside bushes above Emigrant Lake in Ashland, Oregon. When I first discovered the nest, it contained four young. When I returned to photograph it a few days later, it only had two chicks in it. I had wondered at the time how the other two babies had perished, but was focused mainly on the two surviving young and their parents. On the day the two chicks fledged, however, I was shocked to see a Great Basin Gopher Snake attack the nest and begin to wrap around one of the hapless chicks. Instead of quickly snapping a couple of pictures, my protective instinct reared up and I rushed out of my blind to save the two chicks. I grabbed the snake, which was about four feet long, and unwound it from the struggling chick and ran about 150 yards away to release it on the hillside unharmed, but also unsated. Both chicks fledged about 30 minutes later (probably a wise move on their part). Although I felt bad about robbing the snake of its meal, I would have felt far worse about letting the chicks die by snake (most likely like their other two siblings). My only regret is that I should have taken at least one quick photo before rescuing the birds from the snake, if only to show what kind of predators are capable of robbing nests.