I got a late start with the nest box inspections this week as I was out for a few days. I did, however, have a peek inside all of our six nest boxes on Wednesday (5/16) and there are a few things to report.
The nest box up near the Train Tunnel, which last week had a half completed pine straw nest, now holds four pristine eggs.
This nest, I’m happy to report, was dry as can be. We’ve experienced heavy downpours in the past week and the lack of moisture inside the box is a good indication that the problem that we experienced with the previous nesting attempt in the box is not the fault of the nest box itself or its placement. These boxes are well constructed and have more than adequate ventilation to help dry them out should the interior become wet. There must have been other factors at work causing the failure of the last nest.
The House Wrens that have chosen to use the nest box in the wild flower meadow next to the Take Off in Catch the Wind have doubled their clutch size since last week. The nest now has six eggs.
House Wrens can lay from 3 – 10 eggs so our birds are about average in their clutch size. That is, of course, if the birds are done laying eggs. We’ll have to wait till next week to find out for sure.
The Sail Boat Pond nest box still has no occupants or even the beginnings of a new nest.
The nest box on the north west corner of the Amphimeadow is also empty. Bluebirds have been keeping an eye on the box, flying up to the box to peek inside, perching in the trees nearby, but there was an event (Museum Event) with a lot of human activity in the meadow this past weekend which may have given the birds some pause.
There is also much construction activity nearby. If it becomes necessary to move the box, I will, but I’d like to keep it where it is for the time to see what happens. In general this location is a good one and under normal conditions affords the birds both easy access and a fair amount of privacy. I’m fairly sure that the birds will try again soon.
As of Wednesday, the nest box near the Picnic Dome was empty. I expect that condition to change soon. I cleaned the box at the end of last week and left the box open to dry out and air, which I usually do after cleaning, closing the box at the end of the day.
As it happened, I left the Museum early that day and forgot to close the box which may have delayed any nest building activity. Luckily, Facilities Tech, Craig spotted the open box a few days later and closed it (Thanks Craig). I expect to see some activty there by the week’s end.
My inspection of the Butterfly House nest box revealed a nearly complete bluebird nest inside.
Although there were no eggs inside the nest on Wednesday of this week (5/16), it appears to be complete and I expect to see eggs by next week’s inspection. Here’s what the nest looked like last week. As you can see, the birds have been busy.
In closing, we currently have 3 empty nest boxes, one each at the Sail Boat Pond, Amphimeadow, and Picnic Dome, and 3 working nests. The Train Tunnel nest contains 4 bluebird eggs. The Bung nest (Take Off) houses 6 House Wren eggs, and the Butterfly House box has a new nest but no eggs as yet.
See you next week!
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
He can be found Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dinosaur Trail. Ask him what’s new in the wild!