Thursday, September 10, 2009

"All Good Things Must Come To An End"

Susan and I began the task of monitoring the bluebird boxes at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on February 5th of this year. To borrow a phrase attributed to Chaucer from the mid-14th century, “All Good Things Must Come To An End”. And, as this was true in the 14th century, it remains true today. Our monitoring of the bluebird nest boxes came to an end a few weeks ago at the end of August.

The bluebirds at DSBG are still flying about and can be seen perching on some of the nest boxes, but they are through raising their families now. That work is finished until next year but they will still be busy looking for food and shelter to get them through the coming winter.

It was an interesting year on the bluebird trail. We had our share of ups and downs. We were thrilled to see chicks ready to fledge their nests and we were subsequently discouraged to find ant infestations that destroyed both chicks and eggs.

We did make an effort to reduce wasp infestations by putting foil on the inside tops of the nest boxes. But, the wasps were smarter than we were. They just decided to build their nests on the inside sides of the boxes instead. We can’t be certain if this in itself was helpful to the bluebird population but we did see an increase in eggs laid and chicks fledged this year. We cannot really do an apples to apples comparison of the data as we began monitoring later in 2008 than we did this year, we foiled the inside tops of the boxes and we also relocated some of the boxes from 2008 to 2009. With so many variables it is difficult if not impossible to draw conclusions.

In 2008, we recorded 28 total nests, 103 eggs laid and 56 bluebirds fledged.

In 2009, we recorded 28 total nests, 132 eggs laid and 67 bluebirds fledged.

The one thing we can say with certainty is that DSBG provides 33 nest boxes for the bluebirds’ use and the bluebirds used them more this year than last year. In 2008, bluebirds built nests in only 17 of the boxes. And this year, 21 of the boxes were used for nest building.

Even though the Eastern Bluebirds have finished their family business for this season there are still plenty of birds to see when visiting the garden. With the fall migration, it is a great time to visit the garden and observe the birds passing by. Susan and I will continue to come to the garden during the fall migration and we hope to see you there as well.

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