Saturday August 27The mouse has returned to box 7. More milkweed fibers this time. Doesn't it look cozy? I forgot to bring my gloves so the mouse can stay--for now.
Tuesday August 9
[UPDATE: Mouse for sure. I pulled out the nest and the mouse came out with it! Lily got a kick out of my surprise.]
Tuesday July 19And thus we come to the end? One more active nest box at the CRP, the responsibility of my volunteer colleague. Three bluebird chicks in pin feathers trying to cope with the heat.
[UPDATE: Box 16 now has chicks! So it looks like we've attracted a third breeding pair to the CRP.]
Tuesday July 12And then there were no more active nests... The second bluebird brood has fledged. Seems like yesterday there were new eggs in the nest...
Sunday July 10Only one active nest in my group of nine, the bluebirds. I am no longer opening the box lest the chicks fall out (or I squish one when I close the box) but I was able to confirm the presence of live chicks watching the parents.
Mom, meanwhile, was sitting and vocalizing--a little scolding, a little sweet calling.
VandalismSometime between the morning of July 4 and today someone knocked down nesting boxes 1 and 2 and pulled the nest out of box 3. Box 1 and 2 were effectively empty but Box 3 still had chicks in it. Whoever did this should know that disrupting an active tree swallow nest is a federal offense carrying very large fines and possible prison time.
Saturday July 2Fledged! Four of the tree swallow nests were empty when I checked this morning.
|Tree Swallows, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
Only two tree swallow nests left. One has never produced eggs, though the nest is luxuriously feathered.
I removed the old nests, to encourage more broods in a cleaner environment. Here's what the nest in box 6 finally looked like.
Here's another interesting nest, from box 7. This one was built on top of a house sparrow nest.
And although box 8 also fledged, I did not clean out the nest. A look at the image below will make it clear why not.
Other CRP breeding news:
Here's a nice young blue jay, still stub-tailed.
Wednesday June 29No tree swallow fledglings yet, but they are fully feathered and ready to go. Box 3 eggs finally hatched. And the brood 2 bluebird chicks are already in pin feathers.
Saw orchard oriole and red-bellied woodpecker fledglings today. No sign of bobolinks. They are either good at hiding or gone.
Thursday June 23Bluebird chicks have hatched! Already! Tree swallow chicks are mostly fully feathered. Might fledge within the week. And the bobolinks are either gone or hiding really well (I haven't seen or heard them in a week).
Saturday June 18
|Tree swallow chick, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
The box 16 bluebird pair has started a new nest at box 13 right on top of the old chickadee nest. (Makes a good cushion, I would think!)
Sunday June 12First things first: Almost all the tree swallow boxes have live chicks! (It was too cold and windy today for photos.) Tiny naked miniature tree swallows in fabulous feather beds.
Not all is well, though. One dead and one live but paralyzed Canada goose gosling near box 3. (I called the relevant animal control and rescue numbers but Sunday appears to be everyone's day off). The paralyzed one doesn't seem to be suffering but it can't move its legs. What is it about box 3 and dead things? And while I was warning off some dog walkers from the area, they told me about a dead "goldfinch" right in the middle of the trail some ways off. Not a goldfinch, it turns out. A stub-tailed Baltimore oriole chick.
Friday June 10
The box 1 house sparrow male has found a new mate (or maybe the old one returned). She's putting long wet grass in the box but is yet to lay eggs. This is what I found when I looked in the box today!
And the bobolinks are hanging in there. I now see two males regularly and the female every once in a while.
Monday June 6
|New master of Box 3|
Saturday June 4
The bluebirds were back on box #9. No sign of the last brood. (Not my problem). And there was a song sparrow singing unmolested on top of box #1. What a lovely sight. Tree swallows built another nest in box #3. Otherwise, status quo. Waiting for tree swallow eggs to hatch.
In other CRP breeding news: I flushed a song sparrow fledgling from the long grass in the meadow. It flew up and awkwardly landed on the side of a tree. Oh those youngsters.
The red-winged blackbird chicks are also fledging into the meadows. You can hear them calling, "Kek Kek!" from the long grass. The parents were freaked out by my presence. (The newly formed grackle gangs weren't helping either).
Tuesday May 31
|Black-capped Chickadee chicks|
Tree swallow egg production continues apace and they've already claimed the old bluebird box (before I had a chance to thoroughly clean it). No eggs in the house sparrow box.
But, I did get a full taste of the graphic violence that can accompany this nest box experience. You may remember box 3, with its history of tree swallow/house sparrow conflict. Today I found a dead adult tree swallow in the box. There are a lot of things that can kill tree swallows, and violent deaths are not always the fault of house sparrows (other tree swallows can be responsible). I decided not to embed the photos but I have linked them for the interested: from the back, from the side, close-up of the head. I ended up using my cleaning supplies to clean out the dead swallow/nest. As soon as I left, another tree swallow couple claimed ownership. I hope they know what they are in for...
In other CRP breeding news: no white-eyed vireo this morning but a singing indigo bunting in the same area! Could this, at long last, be a breeder?
Monday May 30
I saw two bluebirds fly awkwardly from the meadow up to the tree-tops. Hmmm. Then I saw a tree swallow perch for a while on the bluebird nestbox unchallenged. Hmmmm. I walked over and peeked into the nestbox hole. I could see the back wall. I slowly cracked open the door. Nothing. They were gone. Success! My job is done. Now it will be up to the parents--probably the male--to keep them safe until the fall. (Meanwhile I've got to clean the box. Kinda poopy. The nest too.)
Meanwhile, the tree swallows have taken command of box 3 again. The house sparrow surge has failed. Now only box 1 is sparrow-controlled and the female seems to have skipped town (no eggs for a week).
Saturday May 28Tree swallows now going strong! 4/5 tree swallow boxes have eggs. And I haven't seen a house sparrow egg for some while. Chickadee chicks have feathers and are very very crowded.
Tuesday May 24Amazing turnaround! Tree Swallows now control boxes 2,5,6,7,8. Eggs in most of them. Box 1 is only secure house sparrow spot (took out 2 eggs today). Box 3 has no nest but the last two times I opened the box an egg has tumbled out. Makes me think I should not remove house sparrow nests anymore as the tree swallows will appropriate them (box 7 is a case in point). Bluebird chicks are huge! Barely fit in the nest! Sometime this week they will be leaving us. I will stop opening the box lest I initiate a premature flight. And chickadees! Now slightly cuter.
Saturday May 21Nest box churn continues. Box #6 has failed. No eggs today. Invaded by ants. (No sign of house sparrow). So Box #7 reclaimed by tree swallows.
In happier news: chickadee eggs have hatched!
And bluebird chicks have feathers! Fledging could happen this week!
Thursday May 19
And the tree swallows make a strong comeback.
|Box 2. Fierce defense vs. house sparrows|
|Box 6. Strong defensive posture. They've also hidden their eggs under nesting material.|
|Box 8. Re-captured!|
|Box 12. Carefully guarded.|
House sparrows are next. 5/18 boxes
Chickadees put on a surprisingly strong performance. 3/18 boxes.
Bluebirds only 2/18. But they've got chicks already!
Wednesday May 18Dismayed to discover that there was a house sparrow egg in box #3. And then in the afternoon was encouraged to discover that the female from box #3 was now hanging around atop box #2. (Unfortunately, it will be futile to build a suitable replacement nest given the wet grass)
Tuesday May 17Evil is winning. Nest box #3 predated. Two broken eggs found, one beneath nest box, the other on path. Male house sparrow on top of box. Sparrows now control 5/9 boxes.
Monday May 16Tree Swallows (#3, #6) keep adding eggs to their clutches. Hooray! House Sparrows (#2,7,8) do too. Boo! (I've simplified this into a war between good and evil). I didn't check the bluebird chicks today (weather was too cold and rainy). Other CRP news: cedar waxwings (I forgot they breed here) and the bobolinks are still here--one female.
Saturday May 14Lily helped me clear out house sparrow nests and eggs today (#1, #8) and was extremely thrilled to see the four baby bluebirds. That's an awfully yummy looking spider, dad!
Friday May 13Bluebird chicks! Four of them!
Tree swallow eggs! (Two in box 3, one in box 6)
House sparrow eggs! Boo! (tossed another couple into the river today)
Sunday May 8Chickadee eggs! Nine of them! (When did this happen?)
Friday May 6
|Eastern Bluebird catches beetle, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
Wednesday May 4
|Tree Swallow, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
Sunday May 1Here are the beautiful bluebird eggs.
Friday April 29Here's a peek at the chickadee nest (no eggs yet). Lots of wool? Or is that foam from an old sofa?
Tuesday April 26EGGS! Four Bluebird eggs! (How did she lay 4 eggs in 2 days? Did I just overlook them on Sunday?) Also, Chickadees are done and ON NEST (did not check for eggs--I should have!)
Sunday April 24
Other CRP news: yellow warblers!
And ruby-crowned kinglet (that's it singing at the beginning)
Friday April 22Still no eggs (or female tree swallows). Lily and I cleared out the sparrow nest in Box 6 (we scattered some feathers from the nest around for the tree swallows).Here's a photo of the chickadee moss pile.
Monday April 18No photos. But interesting development. A pile of moss in box 4. Chickadees!
Friday April 15
|Eastern Bluebird, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
Not much new nest action, though the tree swallows are in hyper-aggressive mode and are battling over every single box. A new strand of grass in one box; a new feather in another. We'll see which get real nests....Meanwhile the house sparrows lurk in the bushes waiting for the tree swallows to go away. The bluebirds, on the other hand, are a little more assertive.
Thursday April 14
|Yellow-rumped warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
Tuesday April 12
|Yellow-rumped Warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA|
This "bluebird" nesting box monitoring stuff is quite interesting. I'm still not experienced enough to identify species by nest alone, so I'm really looking forward to more definitive answers. Only one clear house sparrow nest on my side of the property and that one seems to be contested.