Occupy Newcomb: Phoebes nest in a Goodnow Flow cabin’s lean-to

Phoebes at a lakefront ADK cabin on the Goodnow Flow

Eastern Phoebes nested in the lean-to  over the entrance to my lakefront Goodnow flow cabin for at least the third year.  They are ‘aerial fly catchers’ so welcome, and I think they provide a lot of the spring bird-song around my cabin.  They build on the lighting fitting – other folks say they have similar situations. This year I expected them so I positioned a FoscamFI9900 IP camera during an April visit.  There was a warm spell early and the phoebes built but then took a long break before raising a brood. The lakefront cabin is on the Goodnow Flow in the Adirondack village of Newcomb NY, about 30 miles from Long Lake on route 28N.

Lean-to light-fixture as Newcomb lakefront real-estate

The first video is a timelapse created from automated daily shots taken by my Blue Iris video management software.  Well most days – there were some hiccups.

There was a long gap between initial construction and egg laying.  I wasn’t sure if that was normal or because of the abnormal early warm spell.  When they were ready, I think they added a final story to the construction with what looks like finer material as a liner.  It was about a month between me seeing eggs (5/12) and final flight (under duress, 6/14) but the nest building began around 4/13.

Goodnow Flow the next generation: Eggs to flight ready

I always worry that I’ll scare of the parents and cause them to abandon the nest, but then they tolerate me.  I took some shots of inside the nest on several Newcomb visits– one check each visit with no touching.  Click the gallery images to see in full size

So I guess the male was bringing food during part of the sitting process. I have learned to put down a plastic sheet to catch bird droppings, but a surprise from the videos this year is that the babies seem to cough up containerized poop for the parents to take away – I guess that stops the nest from becoming a festering  biohazard. It was getting crowded in the final days with the fledgling more on than in the nest, beginning first to preen wing feathers and then doing test flutters.

Feeding Phoebe chicks at an ADK cabin: RIP Dragonflies

Feeding a nest of growing Phoebes is a quite a task. I timed deliveries at around 3 minutes toward the end (the arrivals trigger the software – I’m not so obsessive as to sit with stopwatch). 

I guess that there is a preference for bigger bugs as the babies grow.  Last year there was a plethora of wasps & hornets and they provide the primo meal.  This year dragonflies played the role, kind of looking like crushed Tinkerbell on arrival. Hover & click gallery thumbnails for full size images

An abrupt exit from the lakefront Goodnow Flow nest

So I came to camp June 14 when the fledglings were sitting atop the nest and expected them to fly the coop when I walked up to the door.  Instead they went very still.  A while later there was a ruckus (ya know one when ya hear one) outside the kitchen door.  The Foscam IP camera caught the action and I got a different angle shooting handheld through the door glass. From the video, the parent  Phoebes were doing their reenactment of an attack on the Death star, with a red squirrel as the focus of attention. Really for no critical reason since the babies had all escaped.  There was a lot of tweeting around the side of the cabin for the next few hours.

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