Colorado Blue Jay grabs Baby Finches

So in late May/2008, I noticed a house finch building a nest on top of a rain gutter on the NE corner of my house. Since there is power nearby and it's under an overhanging roof eve, I was able to install a webcam for a ... uhhhh ... bird's eye view of the baby finches as they hatched and started to grow. You can view lots of pictures/videos of the finch family and people enjoyed watching in real-time plus commenting on the grass blog. And while I'm not a birder, I had grown pretty fond of these little guys. But nature can be unforgiving ... and 11 days after the baby finches hatched, a Colorado Blue Jay came by and grabbed three of them. But I believe the fourth one "made it" with encouragment from its parents.

First baby finch hatched on May 25th, 2008 - four more to go (one egg didn't hatch)

finch nest

A quick look at the baby chicks - they are squirming quite a bit - note webcam

webcam nest

First webcam image of all four hungry finches!

four hungry finches

Getting in for a close picture with a Canon 40D DSLR with 10-22mm wide-angle lens


May 30th - Baby Finch Chicks are less than a week old

baby finches

Week old baby finches - always clamoring for food

all finches

Typical baby finch breakfast behavior when Mom and/or Dad show up

finch breakfast

Finch chicks are getting bigger and even more ansy for food when parents show up

finch feeding 1

Unfortunately, the next day, a Colorado Blue Jay shows up and starts grabbing the baby finches. The first one is taken just after Noon on June 5th. I appreciate all the nice notes of condolence people have sent me - yes, nature can be cruel and unforgiving, but I had grown fond of those little baby finches.

Four baby finches - note timestamp - 7 minutes left for one of them

four finches 7 minutes

First baby finch is grabbed by the Blue Jay

baby killer first one

Few hours later, only three finches show up for Mom - three sleeping

three finches

Baby #2 was taken at 11:16 AM on June 6th - the webcam didn't capture any footage of this - the Blue Jay is quick. Finch chick #3 was taken a couple hours later - I happened to be watching the live video stream when this occurred and it is all over in a flash.

finch baby killer 1

finch baby killer 2

So now we are down to one baby finch - picture taken at 2:24PM on June 6th - unhatched egg now visible

one baby finch

The last Finch Chick actually jumped/flew off the nest ... with lots of encouragement from Mom & Dad. Ironically, my wife was watching the webcam in real-time and phoned in - "the baby jumped off the nest - go check on it now!" So you'll see me checking the nest very quickly in the video footage. I confirmed the baby was gone ... but turned out he was about 20 feet away on the rocks - looking fairly chipper as seen below. Not only were Mom & Dad Finch around, but several others too (extended family?) who were all making a lot of noise. I went inside to grab some gloves to put the baby finch back in the nest (in hindsight, I should have just watched from a distance), and when I came out, the baby was gone. Based on the racket in a nearby dense tree, I think he may have made it in there ... so I believe one of the baby finches made it!

Fascinating time-lapse video of parents interacting with baby and then first flight

baby finch jump

Last Baby Finch on the rocks about 20 feet from the nest

baby finch

baby finch

I think this was Momma Finch in the nearby tree along with lots of other birds that were going crazy!

concerned finch mom

Remember that one finch egg did not hatch. Guess who came back to grab that egg for breakfast the next morning? Yep, Mr. Colorado Blue Jay - as seen in this video of his 9-second visit. There's also video footage that add in visits from the Finch parents before/after ... and after that, the nest was abandoned

blue jay 1

blue jay 1

It was darn sad to see things end this way as I had grown fond of the House Finches (especially the babies) and enjoyed watching 'em hatch & grow, with lots of work from Mom & Dad. However, mother nature can be cruel (especially if you are lower on the food chain) and I'm sure the Blue Jay chicks needed to eat. Hopefully, some birds will return next year and we can again watch nesting, hatching, and feeding ... but no predation this time perhaps.

June 16th Update: So I was hanging out on our back deck this evening ... and all of a sudden, the normal noise of the birds going "chirp, chirp, chirp" became much louder and piercing. My wife (who has much better eyes than me) came out as she also wondered what the heck was up. Then we saw a Blue Jay come flying out of a nearby tree. Damn, the Baby-Finch Killer had struck again. But Wait! The racket continued at a feverish pitch ... and then we saw a larger bird (with something in its talons) being chased by ... two Blue Jays. My wife believes it was some sort of small Hawk was flying off with a baby Blue Jay! Once again, this is nature (which can be cruel) ... and a graphic example of why it's good to be on top of the food chain.

Read the complete house finch saga here.