Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Great 2010 Nest Box Cleanout (Part 1)

Early each year, we make the circuit around the field to open all the nest boxes – intended for Eastern Bluebirds - to clean out old nest materials, un-hatched eggs etc. and make them ready for this years occupants.

The front panels unscrew. W removes the panel carefully, especially if we're a little late, in case someone is already in residence. It's then that we get to see who used the box.

Eastern Bluebirds used this box. Grass was the only nest material used. Last year, Eastern Bluebirds used five nest boxes; only one clutch had been raised in each of four boxes. Only this box had a second layer of nesting material indicating there may have been a second clutch of birds raised in it. This contrasts with 2008 when most boxes had two, if not three, layers of nest material.

Occasionally, we’ll find an egg. Eastern Bluebird eggs are a pastel turquoise blue.

Chickadees or Tufted Titmice used this box; probably chickadees – we see chickadees out in the open field but rarely see titmice. The nest material is grass and moss, mostly moss; it’s the moss that gives these away. Chickadees used four boxes in 2009.

Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice lay small brown-speckled white eggs. These eggs look more like chickadee eggs than titmice eggs.

As we got to the last box, we saw a couple of bluebirds watching us intently from the other side of the field and ready to inspect this years lodgings. I hope they approve. To be continued...
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

The Cornell Institute of Ornithology:

- Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)
- Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Related Posts:
- The Great Next Box Clean Out (Part 2)

- The Great Next Box Clean Out (Part 3)

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