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April nest box update

April 7

It’s April 7th and we have only one nest with nestlings. Four of our six nest boxes are empty or have within them partial nests which haven’t been touched for weeks. But, we have one complete chickadee nest which is ready for eggs.

The Cow Pasture nest box has a ready-to-go chickadee nest, a cup needs to be formed in the nest, but other than that, all it needs is eggs.

Fresh chickadee nest at Cow Pasture.

Explore the Wild, and Into the Mist nest boxes have seen no activity so far this season. There’s still time of course, we’ll just have to wait and see what the birds decide to do.

No action at Explore the Wild (shown) or Into the Mist nest boxes.

The nest box on the east side of the parking deck has nest material inside but it hasn’t been touched for weeks, no action.

Still no new additions to nest material at Parking Deck East.

When I peeked into the nest box on the west side of the parking deck I expected to see four bluebird nestlings, and I thought I did (remember, there were four eggs last week). However, when I got back to the office and examined the photos more closely I could only find three nestlings. Is there an unhatched egg or even another nestling under the three visible nestlings? I didn’t want to disturb the sleeping hatchlings so we’ll have to assess again next week.

Three nestlings?

The Butterfly House bluebird nest, like the Parking Deck East nest hasn’t seen any additions in several weeks. I suspect these two nests were started by the same birds that are now taking care of their new nestlings at the parking deck west nest box. They must have abandoned the other nests when the parking deck west nest box was discovered. I had recently moved it from another location.

Butterfly House nest undisturbed.

So, we have a new chickadee nest, hatchling bluebirds, and four unoccupied nest boxes. House wrens will be arriving soon. What will happen next?

See you next week.

April 15

It’s halfway through April. There’s been a change in one of the nests and a bit of confusion on the count of the occupants of another nest.

The Cow pasture nest which was started by chickadees has been altered. Most of the nest material has been removed. House wrens?

Chickadee nest in Cow Pasture nest box last week (left) and this week (4.15.21).

Typically, when a house wren removes nest material from an existing nest it dumps it on the ground just outside the nest box. I could find no moss or fur at the base of the nest box. It rained heavily the night before so the tossed nest material may have been washed away.

I didn’t hear a house wren while in the vicinity of the Cow pasture, they’re vocal birds and usually announce themselves. Even so, there are currently no other suspects.

The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes remain empty.

The nest box on the east side of the parking deck remains vacant with a half constructed nest within.

The west side of the deck has a nest box with what looks like three nestlings. There were originally four eggs in the nest. Last week I counted 3 hatchlings. I still see only 3 nestlings.

I count 3 nestlings at PKW nest (4.15.21).

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see one bird lying across the bottom of the photo, one across the center and another to the left and behind that bird. Looking closer yet, you may be able to pick out something under the rear bird’s beak. At first I thought the object under the rear bird’s beak was another bird’s head, making 4 nestlings. I now think it’s the rear bird’s own wing instead.

The butterfly House nest box remains empty with only a partial nest inside.

So, one nest has been removed by, most probably, a house wren and the nestlings of another nest box are growing quickly and may even fledge by the next inspection of the nests. All the other nest boxes remain empty or inactive.

Till next week.

April 21

Three bluebirds have fledged. While that’s good news, there are no other active nests on our bluebird trail.

After having a completed chickadee nest constructed inside and subsequently removed by an unknown entity in the Cow Pasture nest box, it remains unoccupied.

The Explore the Wild, Into the Mist, and Parking Deck East nest boxes are empty.

The nest box on the west side of the parking deck has fledged 3 bluebirds.

Three nestlings can create quite a mess while cooped up inside a nest box for a couple of weeks.

The Butterfly House nest has seen no activity in the past several weeks.

So, as of April 21, all of our nest boxes are empty, though there are partial bluebird nests in two of the boxes (the nest box on the east side of the parking deck and the Butterfly House) and one very messy nest box on the west side of the parking deck where three bluebirds have just fledged.

A slow start, indeed, but there’s still plenty of time for our nest boxes to help in the production of new members of the local bird population. Historically, our last-of-the-year birds fledge in late July or early August.

April 28

Female eastern bluebird atop nest box.

This week, the final week in April, we have one mystery solved, another formed. There is only one active nest. All other nest boxes are empty.

The mystery of who emptied the Carolina chickadee nest from the nest box in the Cow Pasture has been solved, I think. Two weeks ago (April 15) I reported the nest box had been emptied of its contents. I, of course, suspected house wrens, but they typically leave the tossed-out nest material on the ground in front of the nest box. And, they’re very vocal. I would have, or should have, heard one singing nearby.

I found no amount of discarded nest material in the vicinity of the nest box, nor could I hear a house wren’s warble in the surrounding trees, and shrubs.

A different story today, a house wren was very actively singing as I approached the nest box. And, inside the nest box was a half finished house wren nest. Mystery solved.

House wren nest started in Cow Pasture nest box.

Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes remain untouched.

As I approached the nest box on the east side of the parking deck, I noticed its berry basket with intact bluebird nest material on the ground behind the box. The nest box was empty. House wren?

Who removed the nest from this nest box, raccoon, wren, other?

No, a house wren could not have dragged the berry basket out through the entrance hole, nor could it open the box, remove the basket and reclose the inspection door. Not even a raccoon would do such a thing, especially closing the door behind itself. And why would it even try, there were no eggs or other food items in the nest box. How did the basket and nest get out of the box? I suspect human involvement.

I replaced basket and nest in Parking deck east nest box.

So, during the month of April, there have been three bluebirds fledged, a chickadee nest removed from one nest box and replaced by a house wren nest, and there are four empty nest boxes. What will next month bring?

Stay tuned.