Have You Seen Birds Nesting This Late In The Season? I Just Did…

I have never seen any species of bird nesting as late as the second week in October in northern Utah.  Until yesterday.


american coot 8649 ron dudley

I took this shot of three American Coot chicks in a nest yesterday morning at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area.  I was astounded to see nesting birds of any species this far north at this time of year.

Perhaps I’m just ignorant of what really goes on “out there” so I’m looking for some feedback.  Has anyone else seen chicks of any species still in the nest this far north this late in the year?  I’ve seen a report on BNA Online of a pair of coots that nested year around but that was in Florida.

Obviously I’m very interested in any feedback you might provide but I’m leaving this morning on another camping/photo trip (this time I’m going south instead of to Montana – who knows what I’ll find, or not…) so I’ll be without computer access and won’t be able to respond to comments in a timely fashion.  But you can bet that I’ll be reading any comments that may be made on my phone with great interest.

Sometimes my curiosity drives me nuts.


14 comments to Have You Seen Birds Nesting This Late In The Season? I Just Did…

  • I have no feedback, Ron, but find this post and comment thread incredibly interesting. Thanks — always — for noting such insightful and educational observations.

  • I more attuned to raptors but we get barn owls here in western Oregon that will double and even triple clutch in a good prey year. We are still seeing young barn owls come in, for example: still somewhat fuzzy from what has to be a second clutch – as we started getting them in April. I’d be interested in what went on in the Midwest – their spring was so brutal and returning migrants were met with a lot of snow, covering food sources. I would suspect they nested late, if they survived to nest at all – and Wisconsin at least has already had a early fall snow recently. I’m hoping it didn’t catch the surviving migrants by surprise.

  • Humming Bird Lover


    Birds, bugs and animals are doing crazy things here in Virginia also! My humming birds did not leave until last weekend and that has never ever happened before??? A wild white violet was blooming this pas week and they are a spring flower?
    love the photo of the little Coots!
    Have a great trip and the best time shooting everything.

  • Renee Owens

    Really interesting. I monitor endangered birds as part of my job, and I’ve never seen them nesting as late, and sporadically, before I have have this year; it’s the weirdest I’ve observed in 20 years. Other researchers with USGS are saying the same. Birds started building very late, abandoning eggs, nests…it has everything to do with the drought here, and these birds are finding less food, have less fat to do their thing. And who knows what else is going on in their non-breeding season locales.

  • Tim in Albion

    We’ve noticed later-than-usual nesting here on the northern California coast this year. Wild Turkey poults hatched in September, for example, and we saw White-crowned Sparrows carrying nest materials around the same time. There was a lot of re-nesting in late summer as well. Can only speculate as to cause… climate of course is a possible suspect, but there are many other potential factors. An interesting year.

  • I know that if there is an abundance of food some birds will doubleclutch. I wonder if that was what happened here.

  • Patty Chadwick

    I sute hope they make it…all kinds of biological clocks seem messed up…Climate change???

  • Susan Stone

    I think something weird must be going on with breeding timing all over. Our Kestrels were nesting two months later this year than last. Last year’s timing, starting in March made way more sense to me. And I’ve seen several obviously gravid lizards around Hueco Tanks in the last few days. We don’t have severe winters here, but the lizards are generally in rumination (hibernation) mode by October or November. I join you in being very curious about this.

  • Jay Banta

    Ron I can’t say that I ever remember seeing any coot hatchlings this young this late. My guess is that it was a first year breeding female who was forced for some reason to re-nest and simply didn’t have the internal clock that most do when a nest is destroyed too late in the season to know that if was not wise to try it again. Those young might still make it so long as they get flight before the hard freeze.

    • Thanks, Jay. I was hoping you’d see this and comment, given your extensive experience at Fish Springs (Jay managed Fish Springs NWR for 19 years). On my visits there I’ve seen huge numbers of coots in large rafts so I figured you’d have some insight into this.

  • Johanna van de Woestijne

    I’m in London, UK, and saw a Coot chick yesterday at Hyde Park (well protected area) just slightly older than you pictured here. It was running around behind the mother, peeping loudly to be fed. If I see it again, I’ll take a photo, but it was definitely out of the nest.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Great find and very interesting! Hope you have a wonderful time and find lots of birds.