Sunday, October 25, 2009

Checking Nest Boxes

I went around Saturday and checked some of the nest boxes scattered around the prairie. This box was built by the local FFA chapter about two years ago. Several families of Bluebirds and Tree Swallows have fledged from here.

The 2009 nesting cycle for this box was Bluebirds-Tree Swallows-Tree Swallows and then this base that was never completed. I clean the old nest material out after each fledging to help cut down on parasites.

The amount of dust accumulating beneath this material makes me think that birds have or are currently roosting in this box. I usually clean the boxes out in mid November and put a couple of inches of dry, soft grass in the box for the birds that will roost there through the winter. On those zero degree winter nights, it makes my feet feel warmer to think that the birds have a little bit of insulation beneath them.

Looks like a male House Wren built one of his stick nests on top of a Chickadee nest. This box is close to the field edge and never contains Bluebirds or Tree Swallows.

Some of the boxes become hidden in the tall Indian Grass. This box was constructed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife about sixteen years ago. About 400 of these boxes were given to landowners in Adams County as part of the Division’s Bluebird Program. I received 10 of the boxes and in return, provided several years worth of nesting records to the Program Coordinator.

Here’s another nest base that was never finished. Bluebirds fledged from this box in the spring. After that, the Bluebirds and Tree Swallows competed for the box the rest of the nesting season. One week Bluebirds would seem to have possession and then the next week, Tree Swallows would be in control. Maybe that’s why there’s such a thick layer of grass in this box. Each time a new pair would take over, they would add a little bit more nest material to the ever growing pile. There were other available nest boxes near by, so I don’t know why the battle was so intense for this particular box.

A wasp began a nest in this box. It never managed to produce a brood. Usually, wasps don’t move into these boxes until the nesting birds have left.

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