If you missed the first round of wild babies, don’t worry! Even more wild babies are on the way! All of the American Robins that race across your yard will finally be settling down to hatch their eggs, along with other frequent bird feeder guests like Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches, and Grosbeaks. Sparrows like Pine Siskins, who have recently recoveredfrom a salmonella outbreak, and Spotted Towhees are hatching this month too!
The tiniest woodpecker in Oregon, the Downy Woodpecker, will be using the cavities they’ve dug out of dead trees and snags to raise their young, just like our larger woodpeckers. Northern Flickers, also in the woodpecker family and likely the most common one you’ll see in Central Oregon, have similar nesting habits, but unique feeding habits in that they often forage on the ground as well! So much for woodpecking! Now you may be thinking, wait, you’ve seen smaller woodpeckers than a Downy–but you may have seen Nuthatches instead! Nuthatches have a unique, siren-like call and also love to drum on trees, usually upside down. They’re often in the company of Chickadees, but this month they’ll be pairing off to take care of their nests, either reusing old woodpecker cavities or completely excavating a new cavity themselves!
Some mammals like to nest in cavities as well, such as the Northern flying squirrel, which will be nesting in large tree cavities or dead tree snags. If necessary, they can build their own large, twiggy nests in the forks of tree branches, similar to their massive Western gray cousins’ nests. Western gray squirrels had an early start this year and many already have babies leaving the nest!
In our previous post, we asked if you knew the difference between cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits. Besides being in different genera, their physical differences are quite striking! Jackrabbits, in the “hare” genus, are significantly larger, with long, lanky ears and limbs. Even their babies, due this month, are visibly different. Newborn hares, unlike the pink, helpless cottontail kits, are born fully-furred, eyes open, and mobile.
The rabbit family has one other member you may not have seen or even heard of–the pika. This round, mouse-like rabbit relative is a highly sensitive and cryptic species in Oregon. They will be nesting in rocky scrub habitat this month, but you’ll have to hike far and be sneaky to find them!
You may be seeing more activity from larger mammals like bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks this month, which can bring you and your family in closer contact with these animals than you’re comfortable with. They will be feeding their own families and may be more territorial than normal. The best thing you can do is to secure all trash, scraps, and food, including pet food, so animals aren’t drawn to forage near your home. Also be sure to supervise any cats or small dogs while outdoors, especially at dawn, dusk, and nighttime. If you do have a wild family making a home near yours, rest assured they will move on in a few weeks when their wild babies are old enough to travel. If you have further questions about coexisting peacefully with these animals, check out Think Wild at thinkwildco.org!
Written by: Lindsay Magill