A Coachwhip and a Yellow Warbler nest

Observers: Justin Hite and Jess Niederer
Email: jmh58@cornell.edu, jln28@cornell.edu
Remote Name:
Date: 06/28/2005
Time: 08:02 PM -0400

Jess and I heard a whole bevy of songbirds totally freaking out this afternoon as we walked on a path through the Cottonwoods drinking date shakes at the China Ranch (in the southeastern corner of Inyo County). We got slowly closer and closer, and the alarm calls kept coming with the same strong intensity. Then we saw a ~3 foot Coachwhip snake (Masticophis flagellum) strung out in a willow directly under a Yellow Warbler nest (that I’ve been trying to find for almost two weeks). There was a decent sized bulge with pale skin showing through the peach pink scales, and when we checked the nest two hours later it was empty. Joining the YWARs in scolding the snake were two Verdin, a female Chat, two Lucy’s Warblers, a male Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, a Bell’s Vireo, a female Summer Tanager, a whole crew of young House Finches, and a very plucky Bewick’s Wren. This YWAR pair lost their first brood of five chicks a few weeks ago only days before they would have fledged.

Photo (C) Justin Hite