Summer at the wildlife refuge

McNary Wildlife Refuge supports a diverse abundance of wildlife throughout the year.  At first glance, early summer seems to be a quiet time.  Driving past the two large ponds that lie on either side of Lake Road, only a handful of ducks could be seen.  Compare this to winter when migrating water fowl come in such large numbers, they cover the ponds edge to edge. 

In early summer, there are more songbirds and shorebirds. Once parked, I could hear the red winged black birds singing, sparrows calling, the rooster-like call of a ringed neck pheasant, the high-pitched whistles of killdeer, and the deep throaty calls of the yellow-headed blackbird.

What do they mean “area closed”?!

Osprey have returned to utilize the nest platforms throughout the refuge. It appears that only two are occupied. This pair’s nest appeared to be smaller than others I’ve seen, so this could be a newer nest for. The pair work together building their nest. The male collects small branches and the female arranges them the way she wants them. 

Osprey

I watched the male fly in with a fish. The female was not interested and remained settled in the nest on her brood.  Osprey lay their eggs mid-April to late May and have an incubation period of 36- 42 days. Not sure when these eggs were laid so they could start hatching at any time. Once they hatch, the chicks remain in the nest for 6 weeks before learning to fly and will leave the nest at 8-10 weeks of age. 

McNary Wildlife Refuge is in Burbank, WA, south of Pasco off Hwy 12. From most locations within the Tri-Cities, it’s no more than 20 minutes away. 

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Female bringing in nesting material

I visited the site earlier this week to check if there were signs of chicks. Their behavior indicated to me that there were no eggs or chicks. The female flew off several times, each time returning with twigs and clumps of grasses, and then worked them into the nest. Maybe there is time for them to have another brood. I’ll keep you posted.