I was a bit apprehensive as I started my nest box inspections this week. Last Friday we had a day of very heavy rain and thunderstorms and I wasn’t sure of what to expect when I opened the nest boxes. Some areas received five plus inches of rain!
I had also been told by Ranger Rock that, out of curiosity, he had looked inside the nest box next to the Bungee Jump on Saturday morning and had found three dead birds inside. Nevertheless, I steadfastly and optimistically performed my duties and inspected each nest box.
Last week the nest box at the Cow Pasture next to the Train Tunnel had three bluebird eggs, it now has five.
The nest box in the meadow next to the Bungee Jump held three tiny bluebird nestlings the last time I opened the box. But according to Rock, it now held three dead nestlings. That’s not what I found when I unlatched the door and swung it open. There were no dead birds, just an empty nest!
I can’t explain what happened to the nestlings that Rock saw in the nest a few days earlier. Rain must have entered the box, the birds suffered hypothermia and perished. How they were removed from the nest box remains a mystery.
After having fledged three chickadees the nest box behind the Sail Boat Pond is still vacant. It has been cleaned and is ready to go.
There were two adult birds, a male and a female, on or near the nest box in the Amphimeadow when I approached the box. When I looked inside I found four healthy nestlings. They should fledge by the time I next look inside the box.
There has been no further progress in the nest box near the Picnic Dome. Last week it had the beginnings of a new bluebird nest inside. The box had been empty for two weeks and I was hoping that I would find a completed nest with eggs when I went in for a peek on Tuesday. It still had the single layer of Loblolly pine needles that had been there last week.
As I approached the nest box at the Butterfly House I could see the face of a female bluebird peering out at me. The bird stood her ground as I neared the box. She held on even as I knocked on the side of the box. It was only after I opened the door that she flew off to a nearby pine tree to watch me invade her nest.
We now have three active nests of 10 bluebird eggs, 5 in one nest and 5 in the other, and 4 bluebird nestlings. There are currently three inactive nests. One nest previously contained three bluebird nestlings that apparently had succumbed to the rain and thunderstorms of last week. Construction has been halted on one nest by a pair of bluebirds and the other nest box has seen no activity in at least two weeks.
The nest boxes contain:
10 bluebirds eggs
4 bluebird nestlings
3 empty or inactive nests
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!