Greetings bluebird lovers and nature fans. Happy March 2017 – the new nesting season along the trail has commenced! This winter went by so fast. It was a milder one, but March has roared in like a lion! My first checks for the Season 2017 — March 9 and March 12, 2017.
First…I have nests … 6 to be exact all bluebird except for one. No eggs yet. I think the females know it’s still too cold. This beloved and therapeutic hobby of mine of monitoring nesting Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Carolina Chickadees, House Wrens….and more…commences again as of March 9 (Thursday). The Woolwine House Bluebird Trail now has 44 nestboxes is located in the Blue Ridge Highlands elevations 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Currently, the trail has 6 boxes active with bluebird nestings. One nest has the nest cup perfectly and deeply formed ready for the first egg of the 2017 season. If we get any early eggs laid prior to this upcoming winter blast and snows scheduled here starting Monday night, March 13 and continuing for two more days, the good news is that nestbox has the ventilation plugged to deter frigid air dropping down from the top by the roof to the nest cup. One box has another native species building, the House Wren, but it could be a “dummy nest”. I will watch it closely. If it is a dummy, it will be removed very soon so another native bird can use that nestbox. Seems a tad early for the House Wren since it is a migrator, but the males may be arriving now and are stuffing any cavity they find with sticks. For me, this is one of the fun parts of landlording a bluebird trail; that is, the observational troubleshooting variations from year to year. I am hoping to add a few nestboxes soon. My goal is 50 nestboxes max for the trail. Only 6 more to install and I’m there! I am including 4 pictures. One picture is one located along my trail and just up my own road…photo taken last year on March 10, 2016. This nestbox was the first one on my trail to have the FIRST EGG LAID in 2016, Nestbox #27. That Mrs. Blue is resting safely inside the entry hole guard (called the Noel Guard). The next set of pictures shows Mrs. Blue entering a “winterized nestbox” still from the winter. In November I add pine needle bedding for roosting birds during the cold nights and winter weather. I also plug the ventilation holes and slots at the top of the box to keep cold drafts out. I leave the ventilation plugged through mid-April. The photos inside this nestbox show the white pine needles I put there in November and the pine needles she just added to build her early nest. This is one of the 6 boxes that have active nestings going on as of my trail check March 9, 2016 and then again on Sunday, March 12 – THANKFULLY NO EGGS YET. All final nesting records of the trail are shared annually in September with three ornithology organizations…the scientists use them to compare the nesting and population trends. OK, so here we go into the new nesting season. I’m excited, as always.