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Sunday, April 26, 2015

CONTENT OF BIRD NESTS ON APRIL 16TH AND 23TH

This year I am monitoring 8 nest boxes that I have mounted on poles at the lab where I work and another 12 boxes or pottery bird houses at home.  Currently at least nine boxes have active nests.  I have been recording my visits to the nests on NestWatch (http://nestwatch.org/), a citizen science program conducted through the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.  I usually visit the nest two to three times a week to check for number of eggs or young birds, as well as insect infestations, broken eggs, cowbird eggs, etc.


So let's look at the nests I have found so far:




LAB BOX #2

Lab Box #2 had two nests of Eastern Bluebirds last summer with 5 young birds produced in each nesting.  This must be a preferable nesting site as it was home to the first nest of the year of the nest boxes that I monitored in 2014.  All five young birds from each clutch successfully flew from the nest. 

Lab Box #2 was the first of my nest boxes to have a nest this year, too. I found four eggs on April 8th and five on April 10th.  I suspect the first egg was laid April 5th and the fifth egg probably on April 9th. On April 16th there were still five eggs in the nest.


A week later on April 23rd I found the first two hatchlings with the remaining three eggs.



When I made a little squeaky noise with my lips, both hatchlings popped open their mouths to reveal the yellow linings that the parent bird target when delivering food items to the baby birds in the relative dark of the nest box cavity.  







LAB BOX #4

Lab Box #4 had a nest of five eggs of Carolina Chickadees last summer three of which hatched and successfully flew from the nest.  Later in the summer a paper wasp constructed her nest under the lid of the box.  Her colony grew to include several helpers, and I was not brave enough to remove it until winter was well underway.  I have bought a bar of Ivory Soap to rub on the underside of the roof.  I read that this will prevent future wasp nests from sticking to the wood surface.

On April 8th I found a mossy nest which looked to be fairly complete.  A bit of grassy material was added by April 10th.   On April 14th I got curious and "explored" the fluffy material in the center of the nest with my little finger and detected what felt like at least 2 eggs.  On April 16 there seemed to be 4 eggs.  Finally on April 20th the cup in the center of the nest had been fully exposed and I could plainly see 6 eggs. These are the 6 eggs as I found them on April 23rd.




This is a close-up of the same 6 eggs from April 23rd.







LAB BOX #5

Lab Box #5 had two nests of Eastern Bluebirds last summer with 5 young birds in the first nesting and four in the second. All nine young birds fledged successfully.

I found four eggs on April 14th and five on April 16th.  I suspect the first egg was laid April 11th and the fifth egg probably on April 15th. This is the photo from the 16th.



On April 23rd there were still five eggs in the nest.







LAB BOX #6

Lab Box #6 had two nests of Eastern Bluebirds last summer. The first nest consisted of five eggs of which only three hatched.  These three babies went on to fledge successfully. There were also five eggs in the second nesting last year. None of these eggs hatched and it is unclear why the nest was abandoned.   

On April 14th I found a Carolina Chickadee nest with 2 eggs buried in the soft material in the nesting cup.  Two days later there were at least three eggs present. On April 20th five eggs were plainly visible in the cup shaped part of the nest where the eggs are now being incubated.  My best guess is that the first egg was laid on April 13th and the fifth egg on the April 17th.  If I am able to visit the nest on the day of hatching, I'll be able to make a better estimate of what day the last egg was laid.  

This is the nest showing the soft grasses, fur, feathers, and unusual green fuzz that covered the eggs on April 16th.  Note a small amount of green moss at the lower left corner which makes up the bulk of the base of many Chickadee nests.  



These are the 5 Chickadee eggs as I found them on April 23rd.






HOME BOX #1

Home Box #1 had two nests of Eastern Bluebirds in the spring and summer of 2014.   The first nest held five eggs which all hatched and concluded with the successful fledging of all five young birds. The second nest had a rocky beginning as the first egg was pierced, probably by a House Wren.  I taped a cardboard flap to the front edge of the roof for a few days (supposed to keep wrens out, but not bluebirds).  The next day I found the pierced egg broken into pieces on the ground under the nest box and a fresh bluebird egg in the nest.  Eventually the Bluebirds laid four eggs.  All four eggs hatched and the four young birds fledged successfully.

On the morning of April 8th I found one Eastern Bluebird egg in Home Box #1.  That evening I found a second egg which means that the first egg was laid on April 7th. By April 11th there were 5 eggs in the nest.  These are the 5 Eastern Bluebird eggs as I found them on April 23rd.






HOME BOX #2

Home Box #2 held our first ever nest of Brown-headed Nuthatches in the spring of 2014 (see the earlier post at "Rubber Ducky, you're the one!").  Healthy little nuthatches emerged from the five eggs and successfully flew from the nest about three weeks later.

On the morning of April 8th I found the beginnings of a Brown-headed Nuthatch nest.   I was able to see three partially covered eggs on April 11th and four on April 12th. On April 16th and 20th six eggs were visible in the open nest cup.  It appears the first egg was laid on April 9th and the last probably on April 14th.  These are the six eggs as I found them in the beautifully decorated nest on April 23rd.






HOME BOX #3

Home Box #3 had a nest of Carolina Chickadees in the spring of 2014.  Six tiny eggs were laid and hatched into delightful little chickadees which all fledged successfully. 

On the morning of April 8th I found what appeared to be a complete Brown-headed Nuthatch nest.   I was able to find one partially covered egg on April 12th and four on April 16th. On April 20th five eggs were visible in the open nest cup.  It appears the first egg was laid on April 9th and the last probably on April 14th.  This is the nest on April 23rd.  The eggs were partially hidden again, but I was able to see them through the "wings" of pine seeds that covered them.






HOME BOX #5

Home Box #5 is a box that I actually built last spring, hoping to attract a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers.  A male flycatcher spent a week to ten days attacking his reflection in our kitchen window.  I suspected he might have a mate and that the pair might be influenced to nest in the yard if I provided an appropriate sized nest box.  The bluebird boxes have a 4" by 4" floor and a 1 1/2" entrance hole, while the flycatcher box has a much larger 6" by 6" floor with a 1 5/8" entrance hole.  I mounted the box on a telescoping pole that has the box at about 10 feet off the ground.  As luck would have it, or not, we had no occupants in this box at all last summer.

This spring there have been many cavity nesting birds checking out this box.  When I lowered the box on April 13th to monitor the nest, I was surprised to find a Carolina Chickadee Tufted Titmouse nest which was composed of a 6" by 6" mat of green moss that was only about 3/4" thick with some soft grassed and fur packed in the back left hand corner of the box.  Still this seems to be a huge amount of moss, and the little chickadees titmice must have been making a huge number of flights to gather that much material. On April 16th I "felt" three eggs way in the back corner of the nest.  These are the 6 chickadee Tufted Titmouse (!) eggs as I found them on April 23rd in the brooding cup that the adult has fashioned in this roomy dwelling.  (It took me a while to figure this nest out.  Since it is an elevated box back in the trees from our house, I only got fleeting glimpses of the adult birds.  These were definitely Tufted Titmouse eggs!)




HOME BOX #6


Home Box #6 is a newly erected box this year.  The box was visited early on by Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, and Carolina Wrens.  As the nest was being constructed, the materials had me convince that Carolina Wrens had staked a claim to this box.  A few days later, on April 11th I found one Eastern Bluebird egg in the nest.  By April 16th there were 4 Bluebird eggs.  I suspect the fourth egg was laid on April 14th.  When I monitor the nest box to confirm that no more eggs have been added, the male does its dive-bombing routine complete with clicking sounds made with his beak. These are the four eggs as I found them on April 23rd.




4 comments:

  1. Love this post and these nest boxes. What a wonderful endeavor, to keep track of these eggs and the hatching. I hope you'll continue to update us on all of this.

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    1. Thank you, Robin Andrea, for your comments. I get a real jolt of excitement each time I see new baby birds. It is amazing how quickly they develop and then fly from the nest.
      I really enjoyed your fossil post. It reminded me of the experiences I had with my kids and their friends 20-25 years ago when we'd go to Mosley Creek, about 75 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, and sieve for fossilized shark's teeth that were from 39 to 65 million years old! I love finding stuff older than me! Warm Regards to you, Roger, and your amazing mom.

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  2. Wow, those baby birds are just adorable.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. It is amazing to watch them grow up. These are all native species that sometimes have a difficult time competing with some of the birds that your business removes (House Sparrows and Starlings). I put up 15 nest boxes around the campus of the lab I recently retired from and at home. Last summer there were 90 eggs laid of which 70 hatched. Of those 69 baby birds made it to fledging from their nests. Best of luck with your business.

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