By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
Ten years ago, I bought a bird box designed for Eastern Screech-owls and put it up in my yard, which is across the street from the Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Over the years, I have had a few screech-owls roost in it during the day but nothing ever nested in it. Sure, a Carolina Chickadee or two have examined it. Once, I was excited when a Great Crested Flycatcher checked it out, but the box wasn’t to its liking. Until this spring, the box never hosted a nest of any sort.
About a month ago, I noticed a Tufted Titmouse pulling hair from the “wool wreath” in the yard, which is designed to provide birds hair for making nests. The bird had a silver band on the leg, and I figured it was one of the birds that have been banded over the years at the Bucktoe Bird Banding program that happens each September. (The banding program occurs within 300 yards of my house). The bird collected wool several times and flew off, and I never figured out where it nested until about a week ago.
Last week, I heard a begging noise coming from the box, and saw a Tufted Titmouse emerge, perch on top, and saw that it had a leg band. Very cool! I observed the pair make several trips to the box with food for the young, each time producing cries from the nestlings inside. This past Sunday, the nestlings were at the entrance hole, begging for food.
Soon after the above photograph was taken, this nestling turned into a fledgling and took off into the nearby vegetation. Sometimes finding bird nests is difficult, even for common species. This one was right under my nose! If you would like to join me this Friday, I will be leading the Breeding Birds and Breakfast program at Coverdale Farm, 8-11am. Register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or call (302) 239-2334. We will be searching Burrows Run Preserve and Coverdale Farm to find breeding birds and will contribute our sightings to the Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas project.