NestWatch

All posts tagged NestWatch

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Delaware Nature Society volunteers manage and monitor about 100 bird nest boxes at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA.  These boxes usually house lots of Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and House Wrens, with the occasional Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse.  This year, there are a few boxes that have produced some new, exciting nests.  My wife and I check a portion of the boxes, and in one of them, we discovered a White-breasted Nuthatch nest, complete with 5 lightly brown, speckled eggs, and a nest made up of a lot of bark strips and animal hairs.  I have never seen a nuthatch nest, so it was really exciting to attract this species into a box.

Jill and her husband Jeff manage and monitor the “big boxes”.  Last year, they installed about 10 Wood Duck boxes on the property, up and down the Red Clay and Bucktoe Creeks.  Lo and behold, last weekend, they discovered the first Wood Duck nest in one of their boxes.  All of their hard work paid off, and hopefully they find more Wood Duck nests.

A wood duck nest in a nesting box at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.  They lay a LOT of eggs!  Photo by Jill Kennard.

A wood duck nest in a nesting box at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. They lay a LOT of eggs! Photo by Jill Kennard.

In another one of the “big boxes”, Jeff and Jill made another interesting discovery…an Eastern Screech-owl nest.  They had noticed the owls roosting in this box together for some time, but then discovered that they laid eggs, and as of last weekend, now have chicks!

The Eastern Screech-owl chicks are visible here.  Look for the little white blobs, one is on one bird, and another is slightly under the bird on the right.  Can you see what the owls have been eating?  I see two sparrows, which look like White-throated Sparrows, and I also see an Eastern Bluebird feather.  Photo by Jill Kennard.

The Eastern Screech-owl chicks are visible here. Look for the little white blobs.  One chick is sleeping on the owl on the right, and another chick is slightly under it. Can you see what the owls have been eating? I see two sparrows, which look like White-throated Sparrows, and I also see an Eastern Bluebird feather. Photo by Jill Kennard.

Here are the stats for the Bucktoe bird boxes last year: Eastern Bluebird – 28 nests; Tree Swallow – 25 nests; House Wren – 24 nests; Carolina Chickadee – 3 nests; Tufted Titmouse – 1 nest; Eastern Screech-owl – 1 nest.  We will see how many we get this year.  All nest data is being entered into Cornell’s NestWatch program.  You can use NestWatch too!  NestWatch is a fun database that allows you to map the nests you find, and report the nest progress, all for science.  Check out the website, and start monitoring a nest or two in your backyard!

The Delaware Nature Society also has a program in place where volunteers monitor nests on our lands, as well as other private land such as Red Clay Reservation.  If you would like to be trained to become a NestWatch volunteer for the Delaware Nature Society, please contact me at joe@delawarenaturesociety.org.

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

If you have a bird box in your yard, you might have seen some action around it lately.  I certainly have.  The feature box in our backyard was the scene of a dispute between an Eastern Bluebird and a House Wren last week.  Feathers were ruffled, there was a little wrestling and chasing, and in the end it looks like the House Wren won.  It has been busy bringing little sticks to the nest since then, with his mate monitoring the progress.

Purple Martin are back at nesting colonies throughout the area.  Later this summer, they will have nests with chicks, like the ones pictured.

Purple Martin are back at nesting colonies throughout the area. Later this summer, they will have nests with chicks, like the ones pictured.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Observing activity at bird boxes is an easy way to peer into the private lives of birds.  My wife and I are Delaware Nature Society volunteers who monitor bird boxes at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve, and we look forward to our rounds each week.  We  already have some nesting Eastern Bluebirds with eggs, a few House Wrens building nests, and Tree Swallows starting to add grass to nests.  We are also keeping tabs on any nest we find along the route, such as the Robin that is now laying eggs in her nest on our shutter.

American Robin start nesting activities in April.  The ones on my shutter are starting to incubate their eggs.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

American Robin start nesting activities in April. The ones on my shutter are starting to lay their eggs. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Recently, the Delaware Nature Society has become a Chapter for Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch Citizen Science program.  As a chapter, we hold trainings on how to find bird nests, monitor nest boxes, and how use the NestWatch database to record data on eggs, young, and nest success .  This is a really fun way to keep track of your backyard bird nests and nest boxes, and contribute your findings to science at the same time.  We report all of our bird nest activities into NestWatch, including wild nests like the Robin in our yard.  You can always access your data to keep track of the status of each nest, and the mapping feature on the website allows you to see all of your nests on one interactive map.  If you like birds, keeping records, maps, science, and helping others learn about birds, this activity is for you!

Monitoring bird boxes and finding bird nests is very rewarding.  Consider monitoring nests around your house or in a local park over the summer and enter your findings into Cornell Lab of Ornithology's NestWatch website.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Monitoring bird boxes and finding bird nests is very rewarding. Consider monitoring nests around your house or in a local park over the summer and enter your findings into Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch website. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

I will be conducting a NestWatch training on Thursday, May 9th, 6pm at Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, DE.  Anyone can attend.  It is free for Delaware Nature Society members, and $5 for non-members.  Call (302) 239-2334 if you would like to attend.  This training will get you ready to monitor a nest box in your yard, or if you are motivated, to become a volunteer bird box monitor, like my wife and I.  As a matter of fact, we need bird box monitors at Ashland Nature Center and at the Red Clay Reservation in Hockessin if you are interested!