I put on my big boy pants and braved the high humidity this morning to check all 21 nest boxes in Area One today. Brutal about sums things up. It was over 30 c with the humidex when I started my walk at 8 this morning. To make things worse, I was almost fully covered from head to toe. Rubber boots, long socks, long pants tucked into those socks, long sleeved shirt, hat and a few pairs of gloves on hand for when need be. This was all about sun protection, insect protection and toxic plant protection. I've had my share of mosquito bites this year, I don't want to pick up any ticks, I don't want a sun burn, and I experienced my first ever slight burn from wild parsnip in 2017 and don't need another. I was a sweaty mess early on but I didn't end my outing with any of the above mentioned woes.
I expected most of the Tree Swallow nests to be done. I was going to acknowledge any active House Wren nests but leave them be. There was a few surprises throughout my inspections today and I'm wondering how to do this blog now because there's a lot of boxes to cover.
Perhaps individually? I hope I can match my cell photos to the noted boxes. Let's give this a go.
16M - still has just one lone egg inside. It's safe to assume this will never hatch. I feel bad for the pair of adults who are still on this nest, they were swooping my head as I took this photo from the entry.
15M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched, all young birds fledged.
I cleaned out the nest box. FYI - any empty nests I found through my walk, the boxes were cleaned out.
14M - active House Wren nest, adults seen and heard.
13M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched and it would seem all fledged. What I encountered is a Wren nest being built over top of the Swallow nest. I did not pull it apart but there was no stench emitting and I'd say it's safe to say all the young Swallows made it out. Of course I will inspect this box more in depth when cleaning it out in the fall. I do not think I will find any bird remains between the two nests.
12M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched but I found one egg with a pip (small hole). The other 5 birds successfully fledged. I wanted to take a photo of the egg but lost it in the tall grass because I set it on top of the nest box and it rolled away almost immediately. Homer says "DOH!"
11M - this is a box with much to tell. 6 eggs initially. Last check roughly 2 weeks ago I saw 1 large juvenile Tree Swallow in the nest and no other birds. There was the stench of death emitting from the box. I was certain I would be cleaning out the nest today and counting the deceased young. Well look what mom and dad have done, they are having a second nest. 4 eggs are inside.
10M - had 5 eggs, all hatched, all young fledged. Weird is the lack of feathers in this nest box unlike most others.
9M - no birds claimed this nest box, it's remained empty
8M - is a box I thought to be an abandoned nest but last check there was 3 eggs inside. This check we have hatched birds who are still fairly young. I took this photo from the entry hole and did not pry into their home for a harder look if there was more than 3 birds.
7M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched, all the young have fledged.
6M - nest box was packed full of Deer Mice nesting material. We were going to evict them until we saw wee young inside. We let them be. I stayed away from this box as this is where the wild parsnip grows and I will wait until later in the fall to inspect again.
5M - 5 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched and it would appear all fledged. Interesting is House Wrens have begun building a nest on top of the old Swallow nest. This nest is newer and still shallow. I could get a better look at the bottom. I should add that this box was screwed to the t-bar improperly by someone, and we could only peek in through the hole. So today, before opening it, once I knew there was no Swallows inside, I took the box off the t-bar and screwed on properly so we now have access.
4M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched, all young successfully fledged.
3M - House Wren nest, did not seem active today but I chose to leave be this visit.
2M - had 6 Tree Swallow eggs, all hatched, all young successfully fledged.
1M - formerly the Chickadee nest, now an active House Wren nest. I observed adult bird flying to and from nest box.
I was happy to not find any dead Swallows through the 16 boxes I checked; even though I am pretty sure there are 5 below that new nest with 4 eggs. As I walked I remembered last year, finding the remains of that Bearded Dragon. A bit later in my walk I happened to look down and found something else dead on the ground. It's a Song Sparrow. The bird has been picked clean by whatever and/or insects. The feathers are still attached to most of it's body though.
I did have a lot of company in way of young Eastern Cottontails. Funny creatures who are rather naive. They would be out on the paths and suddenly freeze. I would have to pass them by to get to my next box, and the rabbits would not hop away until I was less than 5 ft from them. Cute little guys, eh?
From here I moved on to the lone box we've listed as 1W. I blogged about it recently. There was 6 eggs inside but they got predated by something. I repaired the box as mentioned in the blog. So far the birds have not re-nested. Odd is that while I checked this box, a pair of angry Tree Swallows started swooping my head, much like the day I was installing that plate. Are they going to nest? It seems a lot of time has passed with nothing now. Maybe they are nesting in a natural cavity nearby? Unless there is yet another box that I have not discovered in this area. There is no record of this box with the organization, so no sense even trying to find out from them if there are more.
I'm in the home stretch now. One more area with 4 boxes to go. It was here that I decided to head back to the truck, take a moment to cool down, chug some water which I should have brought with me. I also moved the truck closer to this last area, having to illegally park somewhere on the grass since the gates were closed.
1P - the Love Shack. It was not used this year.
2P - Wood Duck Alfie's box. It had 6 Tree Swallow eggs inside. All hatched. All young fledged. The box was cleaned out... after I took this photo.
3P - the House Sparrow nest. Some of you may recall I had a little mishap here the last visit with an early fledged Sparrow. I knew 110% that there would be no young birds inside today but I was still cautious. I ended up having "mom" come flying out but no young. She was giving me proper s**t. The fact she was inside told me they are re-nesting. No sense in trying to see what's going on in there with an egg count now. Holy developed or what?!?! They had 5 the first go. I will assume all fledged due to the lack of any smells. I do wonder how many they will have this 2nd time around?
Here's a shot from the entry hole.
Lastly 4P - a Tree Swallow nest with 5 eggs. All hatched. All fledged.
The nest box was cleaned out just like the others.
I left the remnants on the ground. Imagine if everything went perfectly this year, and the birds nested in an orderly fashion, this would have been my last nest to drop on the ground for 2018.
I will return in 4 to 5 weeks for another visit. I know I won't have to check all the boxes or at the very least, not look too hard into most of them.
Quick numbers about Area One as of July 2, 2018, hoping I have not missed anything.
14 Tree Swallow nests plus one 2nd nest
77 eggs laid
6 predated from 1W
2 did not hatch, 1 from 16M and 1 from 12M
5 presumed dead in box 11M
3 young that will hopefully fledge in a few weeks
4 eggs that will hopefully hatch and all fledge
57 successfully fledged
5 active House Wren nests which is the most we've ever had, prior 1, possibly 2. This may impact Tree Swallows in future years as Wrens can be destructive to other cavity nesting birds.