Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bluebird Trail Winding Down

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Five one-week old bluebirds
All is well on the trail this week. The eight week-old bluebirds occupying two boxes appear quite content and healthy. I did not open the box containing five close-to-fledging bluebirds, but caught a glimpse of a beak poking up towards the entrance hole from inside as I passed by. The rest of the boxes remain empty and I will soon remove them, to clean and store them for next spring.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All is Well on the Trail

Young male bluebird out on his own!
Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Only three boxes are occupied now on the trail. In those boxes are a total of 13 healthy young bluebirds (five over a week old, and eight recently hatched). The other eight nest boxes remain empty.

Ants had moved into the box with the unused bluebird nest inside it, so I removed the nest (and some ants). Since no new bluebird eggs had been laid in the nest where the four eggs disappeared last week, I removed that nest also.

I was pleased to come upon a speckled young male bluebird perched in a little tree near one of the occupied boxes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Week of the Disappearing Eggs

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Five bluebirds hatched recently. There were no new fledgings or eggs laid in the past week.
Gorgeous tall grass prairie in bloom,
site of Gilbertson nest box occupied by bluebirds
Unfortunately, there has been a reduction in the number of bluebird eggs on the trail. Four bluebird eggs disappeared without a trace from one box—the nest inside was completely undisturbed and clean. It could be the work of house wrens, though the box is not located near a brushy area (typical house wren habitat).

There are still eight bluebird eggs in two other boxes.

The last tree swallow nest filled with feathers turned out to be empty—no eggs, no birds, no mess—used tree swallow nests end up very messy by the time the young birds fledge. There definitely were eggs in there earlier, but they never hatched—this nest was pristinely clean. The phantom yellow beak in the photograph from two weeks ago must have been the thick blade of yellow grass I discovered when I removed the empty nest. What happened? Perhaps house wrens removed these eggs, too.

Eight boxes are now unoccupied.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Record Numbers on Como Park Bluebird Trail!

Four new bluebird eggs
Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Three more bluebirds fledged in the past week (19 total) and there are now 17 bluebird eggs in four nest boxes. If all goes well, this year’s totals could be the second highest in the six years the trail has existed. Sadly, I found two young bluebirds dead of unknown cause in the box where the other three fledged.

I did not open the last tree swallow box since the young birds may be too near to fledging.

There are now five empty boxes. Two had small amounts of nesting materials probably belonging to house sparrows, which I removed. Another had a pair of bluebirds defending it, who will hopefully soon build another nest inside. The last box has an empty bluebird nest in it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bluebirds Begin Second Round of Nesting!

5 new bluebird eggs
Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

In the past week nine more bluebirds fledged (16 total so far this year). There are five bluebirds who will likely fledge in the next week, and a new nest with five blue eggs (the first eggs of “Nesting Round 2”). The bluebird nest that contained a cowbird egg (and no bluebird eggs) was empty this week—no egg at all!

Tree swallow nest,
note the yellow beak on the right
At least four and up to seven tree swallows fledged in the past week. The remaining active tree swallow nest, the one I was unable to see into last week, was still very difficult to see into this week. My camera captured what appears to be a yellow beak, and the box felt warm inside, so I am sure there is life in there, but I don’t know how many birds. Could be up to five.

Six boxes are now empty and ready for new nests. One formerly empty box had a small amount of nesting material inside that may belong to a house sparrow.