May Notes from Chaetura Canyon

By Paul and Georgean Kyle
Sanctuary Stewards

We had our hands full in May with finishing the rebuilding of the accessibility ramp, re-painting and generally sprucing up the residence and the upper trails in time for our annual Chalupas and Chimney Swifts dinner on the 18th.

Appetizer Table at Chalupas and Chimney Swifts

It was a sell out once again, and we really appreciate all of those who attended.  Special thanks to our Docents Hilary and Willow who helped out!

The Re-builtAccessibility Ramp

The relatively mild temperatures and welcome rain continued into May contributing to the remarkable growth of vegetation:  4.6” for the month and over 16” for the year.  Insect life was also abundant providing a wealth of food for the resident and migrating birds.  Many fledglings were out and about including Northern Cardinals in abundance along with Black-crested Titmice, Black-chinned Hummingbirds and all three of the local wren species:  Carolina, Canyon and Bewick’s.  We also observed fledgling Blue-gray Gnatcatchers – presumably from the nest Mikael Berens located during the April Birdathon.

The three Chimney Swift towers with cameras had confirmed eggs in each of the nests, and there was much activity around the other towers.  Toward the end of the month, the five eggs in the South Tower had all hatched.

Ash-throated flycatcher in the Chimney Swift Glade

Ash-throated Flycatchers are not recorded at the Canyon every year, but this year we confirmed nesting in a nest box in the Chimney Swift Glade across the street from the residence.  The parents were seen shuttling insects.  By the end of the month, we had recorded 66 species for the year.