It is winter already? My results for 2016 are below. Stay warm and happy and see you next Spring!
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!
ABOVE: Look how beautiful this Tree Swallow is coming out of this nest box! Even its bill is iridescent!