Thanks to the folks in the Exhibits Department here at the Museum who supplied me with two lengths of stove pipe and a handful of hardware, I was able to fabricate and install two new predator guards on our bluebird nest boxes last week. We now have three of our six nest boxes protected.
The three boxes with guards had lost nestlings in the past (I suspect rat snake, very adept climbers). Whether or not the guards will actually deter snakes is something that time alone will tell.
I’ve witnessed black rat snakes climb tree trunks (no sweat), wrought iron, and apparently they’ve been able to get up the 5/8″ grounding rods that our boxes are mounted on. I’ve seen a rat snake cozily coiled inside a purple martin house after climbing up the pole the house was mounted on. And, I’ve seen photographs of rat snakes climbing up the sides of guards like the one in the photo at left.
Fact is, these guards may do little more than ease my conscience, but I didn’t want to put out the welcome sign and offer no protection at all for the birds. Hopefully there’ll be no losses in these boxes this year.
Elsewhere, I came upon an odd sight the other day. A honey bee was floating in the water just off the Main Wetlands Overlook. It was struggling mightily to free itself from the hapless situation it had found itself. I’ve seen plenty of bees, flies and other insects end up in the drink but this was strange in that it was rather cold out, this must have been one of the only bees out and about that day. I couldn’t reach the bee or I would have scooped it up.
A Great Blue Heron decided to take a walk down the trail through Explore the Wild.
It was early in the day and guests hadn’t arrived yet, our resident GBH isn’t usually this bold. Note the long black plume on the bird’s head running down the neck. Breeding season is near.
I saw an osprey go over Tuesday (I was shoveling snow off the boardwalk and didn’t get a photo). Curiously, since it’s March and any self respecting osprey should be heading north, this osprey came in from the northeast and departed to the southwest. Thinking back, and considering the weather we’ve been having, that may have been a wise decision.
Our lone female redhead is still with us. Again, considering the weather up north, a sound decision in staying put. It’s reported that the Great Lakes, which is probably a stopover for redheads heading back north, are 90% frozen (certainly lesser bodies of water are rock solid as well). This is good news for those who live in the snow shadow of the Great Lakes (the frozen water shuts down lake-effect snow), not good news for ducks. As you know, ducks need open water. A frozen lake is not the place for a duck.
And that, is the parting shot for today!