Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Como Park Bluebird Trail update:

Post contributed by Sharon--Volunteer Como Park Bluebird Trail monitor:

What is the Como Park Bluebird Trail?

Como Park is a great place to raise a bluebird family!  It has the wide, open, grassy fields that bluebirds need to find insects to feed their young.  Bluebirds are cavity nesters and search for holes in dead trees or old fence posts in which to make their nests.  Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of these around.

Many people want to help bluebirds find nesting places and successfully raise their young, so they put up nest boxes and make bluebird “trails” in parks, cemeteries, golf courses or fields (with permission, of course).  Then a volunteer trail monitor checks the boxes at least once a week during the nesting season to make sure no problems have cropped up.

When bluebirds find an acceptable nest box, they make their nests from brown grass or long pine needles and weave the materials skillfully into a cup inside the box.  They lay up to five pale blue eggs twice a year, beginning in late April and continuing through August.  The eggs hatch after about two weeks and the young birds are ready to fledge about 16-21 days after hatching.

The Como Park Bluebird Trail began in 2008 with nine nest boxes mounted on telephone poles around the park.  From these boxes, 12 young bluebirds were fledged.

In 2009, a new trail was developed with boxes placed in more suitable locations.  Six post-mounted boxes were made by students in a stewardship class at Great River School, in partnership with Eco Education, and donated to the park.  Six experimental hanging nest boxes were tested in 2009, too.

The Como Golf Course has had a its own bluebird trail since 2005.   The trail now has 14 boxes.  From 2005-2008, a total of 125 young bluebirds have been successfully raised on the golf course! Look for these beautiful birds when you’re at the park.  Listen for their soft, lovely song.

Here is what has happened so far with the Como Park Bluebird Trail, check back here or on the webpage for weekly updates!

April 12, 2012: One box has a bluebird nest with five blue eggs in it. Another has a completed bluebird nest. Three boxes have chickadee nests made out of moss and fur. On those, I installed chickadee guards over the entrance holes to make the entrance smaller so only chickadees can get in. It protects them from larger competition. Another box has a small amount of moss in it and has likely been claimed by chickadees. Four boxes are still empty or have only small amounts of nesting material inside. Tree swallows have returned to the park. 

April 6, 2012:  Two bluebird nests and two chickadee nests on the trail so far.  No eggs yet.

March 31, 2012:  A hanging nestbox was stolen from the park in the past week, so the trail is down to 10 boxes.  Thankfully no birds had yet begun to nest in that box, though bluebirds had been checking it out.  I moved another hanging box to that position.  Still only one completed bluebird nest on the trail.  A chickadee has deposited some moss in one of the boxes and scolded me while I checked, two boxes have grassy unfinished nests that quite possibly belong to bluebirds, and two more 
have small amounts of dried grass in them.  Four are still empty.

March 24, 2012:  One nestbox contains a finely-crafted, deeply-cupped bluebird nest made out of pine needles.  Two others have some grassy nesting material inside, but it is too early to tell if they are the work of bluebirds or house sparrows.
March 11, 2012:  The boxes are up and the bluebirds are here!