Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nest Box Patrol

I have maintained a bluebird and tree swallow nesting box "trail" for the past seven or so years on our property. The power birders call a collection of nesting boxes a "trail," and I really don't know the story behind that. We have nine wooden Peterson style nesting boxes on our property. Two of the boxes are paired, meaning they are installed right next to each other or are back to back. Five of the boxes are solo. Thus there are seven nesting locations across our property. Nesting locations are spaced at least 100 feet away from each other on fence posts, a tree and a building.

I put up the Bluebird boxes because this species has been in decline across the U.S. due mostly to aggressive nest site competition from non-native Starlings and European house sparrows. The loss of grassland habitat also is a contributing factor to their population drop as well. These birds are gorgeous blue and they have the softest most gentle call of all the birds in our area. I love watching them fly around all year round, so more bluebirds are always better.

Today Ella and I did a nesting box patrol to see what's happening in the bird condos we installed this winter. Bird box construction was fun and you could check out HERE (Revenge of the Bluebird Boxes) if you care for the details.

This box was the subject to the fight by the tree swallows as described and pictured HERE (Love is in the Air). Now some serious business is underway with nesting material being incorporated into the box. Those are turkey feathers lining the grass nest.


I had to replace this box during winter due to the ravages of a horse named Gemma and I am so glad that a pair of tree swallows claimed it early on after they arrived back to our property this spring.


Here's mama tree swallow freaked out about a huge camera lens being stuffed into her nest. She says, "If I lay flat that thing WILL go away." She is right of course.


Here is my star bluebird nesting location. The two blue birds who claimed this nest box can be seen HERE (Battle of the Titans) as they conquered the swallows attaining world domination.


And the fruits of their labor have arrived! These are the first baby bluebirds this year! Hurray!! I freely admit they are a ugly little pile of gray feathers, but just wait and see. I will keep documenting their growth.


Then I noticed during the past week that a new pair of bluebirds were hanging around this unclaimed condo. Ella really wanted to get in there and take a peek.


So I helped her out and we looked at these huge blue eggs. They were very large by bluebird standards. Normally, they lay between three and five so I will check back in a few days to see if more eggs magically appear.


And finally, there was a nest box I installed on the side of my barn as an experiment. Normally bluebirds don't claim boxes on buildings, but someone made a beautiful nest of horse hair and laid four eggs. However, no one is around any more taking care of them.


Until next time, that's all from the nest box report!

UPDATE: There are now four eggs in the nest with the gigantic sized bluebirds eggs, just like clockwork! I bet one more will show up tomorrow, then it's time to start counting days until hatching.

21 Comments for OSL:

sassy stephanie said...

What a great idea. We have a new nest in our chicken coop! I think it is a finch.

Yaya said...

Awwww!!!!

Concentrationally Challenged said...

So cool to have birds nesting in your yard!

I can't figure out how the boxes open up so that you can see inside without disturbing the nests...

Anyway, NICE.

Julia said...

Will-The boxes open from the front. There are paired screws at the bottom of the box front that act like a hinge. Another set of holes is on the side where you can push in a nail to keep the box closed. I'll try to get a picture of one up since I am sure my description might not work.

Suzi said...

Those eggs are huge! I hope she squeezes out a few more.

Pricilla said...

Now that was too cool for words. I love bluebirds. There is a huge hayfield across the street here next to the horse farm and in the spring when the bluebirds return the flashes of blue against the beige of the field just enthrall me. The group that arrives is about 40 birds I would say. They stick around all summer but of course the blue mutes as mating season ends. I just love to watch them flit....

Thanks for the close up views. And we have barn swallows everywhere. I adore their chatter. It's so happy!

Hibiscus Moon said...

Those eggs are gorgeous!

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

I always wonder just WHY a nest is abandomed, especially if it has eggs in it.

Your photos are just incredible. What an enjoyable post!

Grand Pooba said...

How fun for Ella! And you :)

Julia said...

Stephanie-Finches are very opportunistic nesters! They are great like that. Hope they can manage with the chickens.

Pricilla-I know we share this love of the birds!! They are fabulous.

ODP-I am not sure why they get left. It is frustrating to me. I am guessing something was just not right for them or they got scared. I also have a suspicion that my super stars with the babies laid a second set of eggs in that nest for some reason. It's just a hunch.

the ungourmet said...

I loved your photos! The blue eggs are so pretty! It's a good thing you are doing. It's a great example to your daughter as well. :0)

ga.farmwoman said...

I love looking at bird's nest to see all the different things they use to build their nests, and line them.

The photos are great.
Do ya'll have purple martins up that way? Our blue birds and martins are always fighting over the gourds bird houses we have..

Have a great weekend.
Pam

Tink said...

What beautiful pictures. I love Ella hat. Do you leave seed out for them?

mbduke said...

I can't wait to see the baby birds hatch and grow up. Keep us posted.

Ratty said...

When I think of eggs, I always think of chicken eggs. Then when I see some like these, it always amazes me how different they are. The colors and sizes are so interesting.

Frogs in my formula said...

My friend had a batch of starlings hatch in his roof. They're loud and he doesn't like them but I think it's sweet. And once, my mom went away on vacation and left her front door open and birds flew in and made nests in all her wreaths.

...Yup, that takes care of my two bird stories!

Over The Top Aprons said...

Julia, what a great post! And your Ella is absolutely adorable ... what a great, great experience for her!

Drakonis said...

So great to see you taking care of the birds there... of course, many of them eat bugs in your garden, helping the plants. And, nature being nature, some of those birds don't return to the nest because they fall prey to Cooper's hawks, who need to eat too. :-)
ttfn,
Drakonis

A Joyful Chaos said...

How fun. It's always such a good feeling watching the birds build their nests in the spring and hatch out a brood.

Lisa said...

That is SO cool!

EL said...

LOVE these pics!! Beautiful Blue Eggs... just beautiful!