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.
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.
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!
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!