Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Nest Box Check

Memorial Day usually coincides with the end of the first nesting attempts in the bird boxes. That makes it an opportune time to make the rounds and see how things are going.

Bluebirds are the first to nest in the boxes each year and are usually finished with their first brood by now. I try to clean the boxes before another pair of birds moves in and builds a new nest on top of the old.

It’s always a dusty mess beneath the nest. There’s an art to avoiding the blowing dust created by sweeping out the box.

Ants have moved in and have quite a cache of larvae and pupae stored in the old nest material. The presence of ants could cause potential nesters to avoid this nest box. The ants could also be trouble for any developing nestlings.

I leave the box clean and ready for the next occupants. I didn’t find any active Bluebird nests. I see a lot of Bluebirds sitting on the utility wires or the fence, along with what appear to be their latest batch of young.

All of the active nests were those of Tree Swallows. The range of activity stretched from a newly constructed nest to a batch of older youngsters. There were two nests with four eggs in each.

There were also two nests with older nestlings. It looks like Blue Jay Barrens will once again make a significant contribution to the Tree Swallow population. Competition for nest space is already intense. Some of these birds are going to have to move off and find new territory.

As is usual, I found myself between hungry birds and their parents. Insects are out in abundance, so I expect these little guys will be filled to capacity.


  1. I have to hand it to you. You are the only person I know of who can post a picture of an empty wooden box and still keep me interested! :)

  2. Wait until one turns up missing and I post a picture of the place where the empty box used to be.

  3. I agree with Michael! When I saw the empty box I knew there'll be lots of interesting things beneath. Nestlings are super cute just look at those hungry beaks!

  4. Thanks, Alexandra. I agree about the cuteness of nestlings. Put them in an easy to open box at eye level and you've got a great combination.