This is the female. Females are still yellow, but their plumage is duller and they lack, or at least almost lack, the streaks on their breast. This female embodies exactly what I’ve been looking for since I stepped onto the island because she is carrying nest material in her bill. Only females build nests, so in order to find the nests, I need to find the females, preferably in the nest-building stage of breeding. Females will make trips every two or three minutes for days at a time (with brief foraging respites) to build nests. This female is holding plant down, which is used to add structure to the walls. The females on Kent Island also use strands from dead reeds for structure, then use gull body feathers and muskrat fur to pad the inside of the nest, before lining the inside of the cup with another layer of reed strips. It seems some of the females decorate their nests with feathers, too. To find nests, I have to find the territories of a pair, then wait for the female to display nest-building behavior, which can take hours or days. Then I follow the female back to her nest. I can also find nests by following females during incubation. Currently I have eight nests in varying stages of development. They range from a female who is still building (her first nest was depredated by crows) to a female who finished her clutch (five eggs) three days ago. Females lay one egg a day, and the nestlings should hatch about 12-14 days after the eggs are laid.




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