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Jaeger on Nest...

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Jaeger flying cover...

   

Two Long-Tailed Jaegers with a nest near Nunavak Road about two miles from Barrow. While hatching eggs they try very hard to have one sitting on the nest and one hunting for food. If the nest is approached one adult will make swooping dives with screeching noises to chase an intruder away. If approached close enough both birds will attack. And when approached within perhaps 10 to 15 feet they will make physical contact. If that doesn't work they will land on your head, and peck at it!


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Jaeger Eggs in Nest

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Very Young Jaeger Chick

   

The left image is the pair of eggs in the "nest" on June 20th.

This is a typical Jaeger nest, with two eggs laying on bare tundra. They choose a spot just high enough to stay dry, with good drainage, but not so high that it stands out when viewed from any distance. Nothing is added to make a "nest" in the way that many birds do, though usually the nest is close to plants that provide some camouflage.

The picture of the chick on the right was taken on July 5th, and it appears to be at least 2 or 3 days old. The last previous visit had been on June 29 and on that date there were still two eggs. This chick remained absolutely motionless when the adult Jaegers were not at the nest. When watched from a distance though, the chick was quite active when one of the adults came to the nest.


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Attacked by a Bird

   

Benjamin Kim and his friend, both 10 years old, didn't know the birds would attack them! It was a little unnerving at first, then they had to be discouraged from picking up sticks to fight back...


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Benjamin with Live Jaeger Head Dress

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Friend with a Jaeger Head Ornament

   

After the initial excitement, it was just plain fun to have a Jaeger sitting on their heads, pecking at them a bit. The Jaegers swoop and dive and screech at some distance from the nest, but at about 20 feet or so they become this agressive.


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Jaeger Hovering

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Jaeger Swooping

   

The swooping, diving, and hovering is fascinating to watch.


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More Hovering

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A Close Pass

   

The Jaegers swoop past and hover just "far enough" away! They get too close for a good picture, and the easy way to deal with them is to hold out a hand and sort of back them off the right distance for the camera and lens being used.


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Baby Jaeger at 10-12 Days

   

On July 13th photographer Bill Burt and I visited the nest. Bill photographs rare birds and publishes articles and books about them. Bill's web site at www.williamburt.com is quite interesting!

It took some effort to find the chick this time, because the adult Jaegers no longer need to be there all the time, and they move the chick. With two people it wasn't hard to determine when one or the other was closer to the chick, by which one of us they attacked.


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Little Inquisitive Jaeger

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Looking for Food

   

When we kept our distance, the chick didn't move a twitch. But when we decided to remove some of the grass around it to get better pictures, the chick became animated. It has no fear of anything, but expects that any movement close by means it might get something to eat! And while it didn't move before, now it watches us intently.


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Expecting Dinner

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Watching Intently

   

After we had gotten that close, the little thing watched our every move.


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Bill Burt Photographing Chick

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Parents Return to Attack

   

In the image on the left one of the adult Jaegers can be seen sitting on the ground at some distance in the background. While we were within 2 or 3 feet of the chick they did not come close. In the larger view of the image (click on the image to see it) the chick can also be seen, just a few inches from Bill's extended hand.

In the image on the right Bill is backing away from the nest and the adult Jaegers come back.

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