I walked across the CyFair campus yesterday to see how the Western Kingbird family is getting along, only to find that the birds had disappeared. So I spent the next 20 minutes hunting everywhere for them. No luck! Disappointed, I headed back to my classroom - and there were the young Kingbirds perched in a small pine just 30 yards from the site of their nest in the roof of the basketball court.
They seemed unconcerned by my presence and I was able to take a series of close-up photos of one of them.
However, I was dismayed to see that there were now only two youngsters instead of the three I had seen previously. I hoped that this didn't mean that one had already been lost to one of the many predators that prowl the campus - coyote, raccoon, cottonmouth.
There was another problem, too. The Kingbirds had moved into a tree that was on the territory of a pair of Northern Mockingbirds. The latter perched flew in and out of the tree, protesting loudly about the intruders.
The young Kingbirds stayed where they were but were clearly aware of the Mockingbirds' presence.
Then an adult Kingbird tried to land in the tree but saw the Mockingbirds. It veered away and landed on a nearby rooftop. While one of the young birds sat and screeched to be fed, the other flew up to the adult and was duly rewarded.
The adult flew off and I turned my attention back to the tree. Surprise! The third young Kingbird had turned up. Bigger surprise! There were now four young birds in the tree.
So, in spite of all the habitat loss and degradation caused by current construction work on campus, the Kingbird pair had managed to raise a brood of four young, just as they had done in previous years. Great job!