Bluebird Update 3/18/14

Only a few pieces of pine needles to start the ball rolling in the nest box in the Cow Pasture (3/18/14).

With tree limbs sheathed in ice and icicles dangling from the roof of the nest boxes, it may not seem like bluebird time, but it is. I did a check of the six nest boxes here at the Museum and all save one has seen activity in the last week. Only the nest box behind the Sail Boat Pond in Catch the Wind is empty. Three of the nest boxes show signs of bluebird activity while the nest boxes next to the Bungee Jump in Catch the Wind and the Butterfly House have been earmarked by chickadees.

The nest box at the edge of the Cow Pasture next to the Train Tunnel has only the barest of nest material, but it’s a start. The beak full of pine needles in the nest box was probably placed there by a male bluebird hoping to get a female to take the bait and complete the nest.

On last week’s inspection of the nest boxes I found obvious workings of a chickadee in the box next to the Bungee Jump. I commented that the female, who does the legwork, would most likely top off the nest with fur or feathers. She has done that. It is ready to go. Now all we need is warm weather!

The “Bungee” nest as it was last Tuesday (3/11) and one week later (3/19).

As mentioned, the Sail Boat Pond nest is empty. But, the nest in the Amphimeadow has seen activity. And, the nest at the Picnic Dome has had a few more needles added to it. But both of those nests have a long way to go before there are eggs within. I suspect more work will be done after we rid ourselves of the current unseasonably cold weather.

Admittedly, not much has been done to the Amphimeadow nest (left) or the Picnic Dome nest but it’s obvious that there are interested parties keeping an eye on them (3/18/14).

The Butterfly House nest is a surprise. I didn’t expect to see a chickadee nest inside this box. Typically, chickadee nests will be built in nest boxes that are closer to a wooded edge. This nest box is in one of the more open areas of the Museum landscape. The chickadees are, however, welcome to build where the please.

Icicles hang from the roof of the Butterfly House nest box (3/18/14).
Inside the house is the handiwork of a female Carolina Chickadee (3/18/14).

It’s still early in the season, and the current weather does little to reinforce the nest building spirit. I predict, though, that the activity will pick up as soon as this cold, rainy, drizzly weather passes.

See you next time.

2 responses to Bluebird Update 3/18/14

  1. Georgia Feasel says:

    Why are you using paper berry boxes in the bottom of the bluebird houses? cleanliness?

    • Greg Dodge says:

      The berry baskets were introduced to me by Ken Kernodle who had originally installed the nest boxes here at the museum. Ken uses them as a matter of convenience in cleaning the boxes after nesting. The baskets can sometimes be used more than once, simply toss out the nest material in the basket and reuse. Often though, they’re a bit too messy and the whole basket needs to be discarded which reduces the cleaning effort considerably. As you can imagine, the nest can get quite soiled with three, four, or even five young birds packed in the box, especially bluebirds later in the season.
      Good question, and thanks.

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