Friday, June 28, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update June 28th

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Bluebird Trail monitor:

A windy day on the trail this morning. After last Friday’s storm I checked all the nest boxes but one—today I found it had had a close call with an uprooted ash. The 5 young bluebirds inside fledged unscathed.
      A total of 14 bluebirds fledged in the past week and I cleared out those nest boxes so they are ready for Round Two. On top of one of the old nests, a house sparrow had already built a nest. I removed it, too. I also had to remove the begininings of a wasp’s nest from the underside of another box. Bluebirds nest two to three times per summer. Given the late start this year I wouldn’t expect any to nest three times.
      Now, there are three boxes with 10 young bluebirds and eggs in them. I was able to show two boxes to kids in the Audubon summer birding class on Wednesday, one with newly hatched bluebirds and one with bluebird eggs.
      Today I peeked into the chickadee box, but didn’t open it wide since the 8 young birds inside totally fill the flimsy nest and would have toppled out.
      Five tree swallows will likely fledge this coming week.  I was surprised when I opened the other tree swallow box (the one with all the feathers I’d never been able to see into properly)—I’d thought I might find the nest empty and the young fledged, but mom was sitting on the nest, on hatchlings that appeared to be less than a week old.
            I observed the wren nest box and heard peeping inside.  Soon enough, one parent flew in, while the other arrived with a juicy caterpillar in its beak.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: June 21st

 Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Bluebird Trail monitor: 

There are a total of 24 young bluebirds and eggs on the trail this week.  Fourteen young bluebirds in three boxes are ready to fledge, so I did not open their boxes in order to prevent premature fledging.  In one box that had five bluebird eggs last week, there are only four this week.  In the box where the three eggs disappeared last week, five more eggs were laid, but one of them was punctured and I found it rolled up onto the rim of the nest, and removed it.  It is possible a wren is damaging the eggs and that post may need to be moved to a better site.  In the box that had one egg last week, there are only two eggs this week, which is a little strange, considering bluebirds usually lay 3-5 eggs per nest and those eggs should all have been laid by now.
      Four tree swallows are ready to fledge this week so I didn’t open their box, but I did see a parent bird flying up to it with some food.  The other tree swallow box has at least four over-a-week-old young birds in it.
      Four chickadees fledged last week, so I cleaned out their box and removed the chickadee portal guard that reduced the hole size so larger predatory birds couldn’t enter and disturb the chickadees.  Eight chickadees hatched in another box.
            The wren nest is still a mystery, and I didn’t open it this week, in case those young birds are near fledging.  Generally house wrens lay between 6-8 eggs that take up to 16 days to hatch and between 15-19 days to fledge.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: June 14th

Male bluebird on top of
Schiller monument
Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Three eggs in one of the bluebird nests have disappeared, with very little trace left behind—only a few blue bits of shell on the outside of the nest.  This happened last year, too, at the same nest box.  The box is mounted on a post, and protected by a predator guard, but some unknown predator is eluding it somehow, perhaps coming down from the nearby trees?  If a new nest is started in this box I will attach an exterior wire mesh guard and see if that helps.
      There are five more boxes with bluebirds nesting inside.  Two have a total of six eggs; three have 14 healthy, growing bluebirds inside.  The male bluebird who last week was still looking for a mate evidently found one, as a beautiful nest has been built and one blue egg laid inside.  The male of that pair found an excellent perch atop Schiller’s head!
      In one tree swallow nest there were five pink newly hatched tree swallows.  Their mother flew out when I approached and did not dive bomb me as I checked, but waited patiently and quietly nearby.  In the other tree swallow nest, which I have never been able to see
Nest full of chickadee eggs

into very well due to the mass of feathers, I photographed either the parent bird on the nest, or a very large young bird nearly ready to fledge.

One week old bluebirds
      There are two active chickadee nests, one with eight eggs, and the other with young chickadees near to fledging age, so I did not open that box, in case I would scare the young into fledging too soon.  I heard a parent chickadee nearby, and young inside “dee-ing” in reply.
      I did not open the wren’s box, as I noticed more sticks and material up to the entrance hole and opening it might have pushed that material down onto the nest.  The mother flew out, so she is tending the eggs or young inside.
      All eleven boxes are now in use.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: June 7th

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

5 new bluebirds

5 nearly week old bluebirds
There are five active bluebird nests this week.  One box has five new nestlings; another, four.  There are five nearly-a-week-old bluebirds already developing feathers in a third box.  The fourth nest has three blue eggs in it, and the fifth, just one so far.  A male bluebird has staked out another hanging box and is looking for a mate.
There are tree swallow
eggs behind those feathers!

Still can’t see into tree swallow nest number one, but it is possible some little ones have hatched beneath all those feathers.  The parent swallows swooped and circled as I checked.  Tree swallow nest number two has at least three and maybe five white eggs, just visible through the feathers.

View inside the wren's nest

 There are at least two week-old chickadees in one nest box, and eight chickadee eggs in another.  This is the one with the speckled egg on the edge of the nest, that I have now identified as belonging to a cowbird (they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and have done so on the trail for the past few years).  It is speckled like the chickadee eggs, but much larger.  Since it is on the edge of the nest, and has been there for several weeks, it is not being incubated and will not hatch.

I was unable to see into the wren’s nest by any means.  The female flew out and chattered angrily at me.  Maybe next week her young will have hatched.