Not long after my last post on progress of the nesting phoebes and their chicks, activity in and around the nest ceased. It appeared that the chicks -- I had seen at least 3 by that time -- had either died or been eaten. The parents (or another couple?) immediately began to build up the nest again. Here's some video from May 8th:
To better understand what I was observing, I got a short-term subscription to The Birds of North America Online (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). The info there was very useful to interpret some of the behavior in this video.
After a couple of days of warp-drive remodeling, the birds disappeared. I wasn't sure if they had abandoned this nest for another one or were just in a holding pattern of some kind. As of Monday the 13th, I had decided they had abandoned the nest, and moved my vehicle and my own activity back to the porch-side of the house.
On Friday the 17th, I saw a phoebe near the house for the first time in about a week. It looked like this bird went to the nest but I was not in a position to observe the nest directly or get any video. Yesterday I thought I saw another visit, now, today, I got some video of a female sitting on the nest. So, next time I have to go out somewhere, I'll start using the back door again.
As I watch the newest round of phoebe activity, I'll continue to explore files on all of the bird species I observe for the USA-National Phenology Network at BNA. It's a terrific resource for more indepth info on birds and their life patterns.
By the way, on May 9th (and not too far from the nest) I almost stepped on a "creature of interest" in the disappearance of the baby phoebes:
Snakes like this black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta) are known predators of phoebe eggs and nestlings. [Photo credit: Cathie Bird]