Thursday, April 30, 2009

What We Don't Want To See On The Bluebird Trail

There have been a lot of things going on during the past few weeks on the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Bluebird Trail.  Just in the past week alone we discovered that 19 bluebirds fledged their nests.  We have at least 6 active nests and we have 4 nest boxes that are active with wasps.  We are definitely having more problems with wasps this year than we did last year.

The picture at the right is a picture of what we don't like to see on our bluebird trail.  This is a House Wren nest.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects these little native birds that build these big, clunky nests.  The Act makes it illegal to remove active nests or eggs of the House Wren.  It is acceptable to remove House Wren nests without a nest cup or eggs.  You can see from this picture that it would be very difficult to determine whether or not there is a nest cup or eggs in this box.  So, to be on the safe (and legal) side, it is best to let nature take its course at this stage.  This is what makes regular monitoring so important.  Early detection makes it possible to remove the sticks before a nest cup is established and eggs are laid.

We also discovered one nest box being inhabited by a Tufted Titmouse.  This bird is also protected by the same act so she'll be raising her brood without any interference from us.  The Tufted Titmouse makes downy nests of moss, fur, soft plant fibers and occasionally crumpled leaves.  It is easily distinguishable from the pine needle nests that bluebirds build.  It looks extremely soft and comfortable.  If I were a baby bird I think I'd like this nest quite a lot!

We also had one more visitor to a nest box this week that is also protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  I noticed two tree swallows flying around one of the nest boxes.  One of the birds landed on the front of the box and held on and sang away at the entry hole.  So, next week the monitoring could be very interesting.  We may just get the opportunity to see what the Tree Swallow's nest looks like as well.

So, do pay a visit to the garden soon.  Sit a spell and see what else is flying around in the air besides wasps, bees and pollen.

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