2016 FINAL NESTING RESULTS and a FEW WORDS IN SUMMARY


It is winter already?  My results for 2016 are below.   Stay warm and happy and see you next Spring!

Copyright - Photo by David Kinneer

Here is my trail summary essay points…..final bluebird stats are 66 nest attempts total (which means at least one egg was laid per nest), 288 eggs laid, 243 eggs hatched, 217 young fledged.  Not my best year for the trail, in spite of the fact that last year I fledged 211 bluebirds.  I had many more challenges and a higher percentage of eggs and nestling losses this year and smaller clutches. The trail fledged less Tree Swallows and Carolina Chickadees compared to last year, as well. One House Wren active nest and fledging ONLY this year. Absolutely NO House Sparrow issues this year. Good!  Every year is different.  Last year — my best ever.  This year, not so great.   Now I look forward to the 2017 nesting season!

ORNITHOLOGY ABBREVATION LEGEND: 

EABL – Eastern Bluebird

TRES – Tree Swallow

CACH – Carolina Chickadee

HOWR – House Wren

HOSP – House Sparrow

 

1. One box had a sudden roof fail and I moved the nest and nestlings to a newly installed box nearby. Parents accepted and fledged young.

2.  Two broods died on nest and I could NOT determine why.  NOT BLOWFLIES, NOT STARVATION.

3. I had two boxes that I had to eradicate hornets’ nests. One was built over TRES eggs during incubation it appears, but I got that nest and eggs moved to a new box nearby. The TRES incubating female accepted and hatched them a couple of days later.

4. Snakes got past several remaining 6-inch wide stovepipes and one 7-inch wide stovepipe. I am replacing those with 8-inch wides for 2017.  NO PREDATIONS at any of my 8-inch widths.

5. I had one box that had a late season nesting, only one brood, and they fledged.

6. I had some dead hatchlings removed by parent birds. I find this marvelous! This is possible if they are small enough to get out the 1.5″ entry holes. To remove the dead is progressive and good action by parent birds. This is not possible when the young grow larger, unfortunately.

7. Carpenter bees occupied two boxes during nestings, but no problems for the eggs or young, amazingly. I did try to eradicate nonetheless.

8. TRES attempt but evicted by bluebirds. TRES left area, too late to add another box in a paired setup.

9. I witnessed a premature fledging take place at one box due to human workers in vicinity of the nestbox. Age was 14 days old when fledging. Most made it barely up to a tree. Two went to ground and I flushed them up to tree when I did not see parents fly down to them within a reasonable amount of time.

10. I still had one box on a fence at one private owner’s location with no predator guard …. EXCEPT a pronged out Noel Guard. SUCCESS in fledging! I still do not recommend NOT using a wobbling stovepipe baffles, which increases success rate of fledging because it deters climbing predators.

11. Using heat shields on a few boxes with nestlings seemed to really help this year when the temps were above 90 degrees. I only needed those on my original 10 year old boxes, that had a bit less ventilation at the top. The newer boxes are Carl Little designs which have adequate ventilation at the top — I’ve not ever had nestling losses due to heat in those designs, nor in the 2-Hole Mansion, either.

12. Diatomaceous Earth applications worked on all nests but one — the hardy larvae got past the DE on the side of one nest and the whole brood died. Other nests, the larvae did not have enough strength to get past the DE and the bluebirds broods survived a lightweight amount of the blowfly larvae. I know this from the dissected fledged nests in the bucket by how many larvae are still alive and how many are dead inside the nest.

~~~

A few photos from 2016 follow below.  I did not caption them this time.  If you have questions, leave a blog note here and I’ll respond.  I hope you have enjoyed the end-of-year update of the results for the Woolwine House Bluebird Trail.  I hope you have safe holidays and a wonderful winter.  See you next Spring!

How I remove unhatched eggs. I use a plastic spoon. I only do this if it does not disturb the hatchlings; otherwise, I leave them. If they can be removed, I will then do it -- simply and quickly.

ABOVE:  How I remove unhatched eggs. I use a plastic spoon. I only do this if it does not disturb the hatchlings; otherwise, I leave them. If they can be removed, I will then do it — simply and quickly.

One of several styles of mealworm feeders I use. I feed live mealworms during the nesting season and dried ones mixed with suet nuggets and soaked cut-up raisins in the winter.

ABOVE:  One of several styles of mealworm feeders I use. I feed live mealworms during the nesting season and dried ones mixed with suet nuggets and soaked cut-up raisins in the winter.

Look how beautiful this Tree Swallow is coming out of this nest box! Even its bill is iridescent!

ABOVE:  Look how beautiful this Tree Swallow is coming out of this nest box! Even its bill is iridescent!

Hello Mrs. Chickadee. I hope I'm not disturbing you too much.

ABOVE:  Hello Mrs. Chickadee. I hope I’m not disturbing you too much.  (When this happens, I quietly and quickly close and secure the box and walk away to leave her in peace and not stress her too much.)

ABOVE:  One Tree Swallow to its mate: “May the Winged Force Be With You.”

ABOVE:  This native paper wasp is not aggressive. I chased them out of the box without incident and made sure they didn’t want to return.

AVOVE:  Here’s Pop with some yummy grub! See how they like the Noel Guards? It’s like a front porch!

ABOVE:  AHEM….yep, carpenter bees. Sigh.

ABOVE:  Oh my goodness, this is a beautiful brooding, incubating Tree Swallow. They are brave when we check on their nest. I love this bird!

ABOVE:  OOOPSY….removing a small hornets nest over this Tree Swallow nest of eggs. This is not a usual thing on the trail, but this year, I had to get rid of TWO hornets nests.

A Tree Swallow guarding its nest on the “front porch”, which is the entry hole guard called the Noel Guard.

ABOVE:  I am installing a new Two-Hole Mansion (designed by Linda Violett — to spec!). So easy peasy…I can do this myself.

ABOVE:  Pretty blue egg. Just one is a sight to behold.

Looking down on the Ron Kingston stovepipe baffle. Simply the best.

ABOVE:  Looking down on the Ron Kingston stovepipe baffle. Simply the best.

4 comments on “2016 FINAL NESTING RESULTS and a FEW WORDS IN SUMMARY

  1. Wow! A lot of different situations this year. You are one busy lady!

    Merry Christmas!

    Karen Hale

    On Wednesday 12/07/2016 at 8:42 pm, This is the WOOLWINE HOUSE BLUEBIRD TRA

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    • Hello across the miles! When my bluebird trail started in planning in 2007 and launched in February 2008, my neighbor two miles down my road helped me plan and build the trail for the first 14 in his workshop. He is an awesome woodworker. We used a tested bluebird house plan. Since then, he built another 10-15 more to add to the trail and helped me install them. I also have two other workshop builders I can rely on. I never purchase nest boxes in stores due to the lack of quality. Best way is to build them with a skilled woodworker who is willing to do it for no charge except for the costs of materials. As the years went along, I learned to install all the equipment myself without help. It was a matter of figuring out the ins and outs of doing so for a person my age. Squirrels CAN be a problem. As well as OTHER critters. It’s a matter of knowing how to put up safe bird housing and keep all other potential predators away from the housing so the birds succeed in raising and fledging their young. Yes, it can happen! On my trail, I have had two squirrel issues in the 10 years of bluebirding. The first was a flying squirrel, which one cannot deter that from happening since they have strength to get from a treeline to another location through the air (usually at night). Flying squirrel species can eat young hatchlings or eggs in a birds nest–yes, they can be carnivores! The way to stop that is not to have the woods or thick cluster of trees too close to the nesting boxes. I did get one Red Squirrel get to a box by jumping off a tree branch that grew too close to the box and attempting to chew a hole into the box. It failed doing so because of the Noel Guards I have over the entry holes. It did try to chew itself in from the side of the box, enough to cause rains to leak inside (which is not good). The box did get too damaged, and I had to replace it altogether. It sits in a repair pile now. The way to deter ground squirrels is not installing a nest box near trees or too close to fence lines or other equipment on the ground where they can use those as a “bridge” to jump to a box from above. By using the wobbling stovepipe baffle on the boxes, which is what I use, any ground critters…snakes, squirrels, mice, field rats, raccoons, cats, opossum, which will attempt to climb the poles they are installed on WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET TO the nest boxes. I order my mealworms online in large quantities and keep them in a refrigerator (which keeps them in dormancy). I have several online sources and order anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 at a time, usually only during the nesting season. The mealworms stay in dormancy in a temperature between 36 and 55 degrees. The bluebirds NATURAL favorite food are insects! Most of the insects are found on the ground since bluebirds are of the “thrush” family of birds. Thrushes go to ground for food foraging, mostly. So grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, spiders, etc., are favorite natural foods in the wild. I have seen small amphibians picked up by bluebirds, even snails. LIVE MEALWORMS are the favorite food for the humans to supply in feeders for the bluebirds. Mealworms are from the darkling beetle (which is wingless). Other insect-eating birds will also enjoy live mealworms, not just bluebirds. Thanks for your inquiry!

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