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Nest box monitoring has continued with several new occupants since we began in March of this year. Of the nine kestrel boxes in my monitoring location as of this last week, three are currently occupied with a total of 13 eggs and two nestlings. Of interesting note, we have had females brooding in some boxes and males in others.
We had a number of new tree swallow nests and occupants with nestlings:
We were disappointed to discover that a box previously containing a completed bluebird nest with six eggs had been overtaken by a tree swallow, which apparently built a new nest right on top of it. There were three remaining bluebird eggs still situated underneath the new nest. It appears the tree swallows gained the upper hand, and this is a common occurrence in the fight for the nesting space and prime locations that these boxes provide. This interesting article provides some details: http://www.sialis.org/competition.htm
Twelve wood ducklings have fledged – I was sorry to have missed them. Timing must be perfect to have the opportunity to view wood ducklings given that they leave the nest only one day after hatching.
The barn owls have owlets along with several small mammal “meals” stored for later:
We have had no luck as of yet with the burrowing owls and hope that by next year, the several newly placed burrows will be discovered.
Two ash-throated flycatchers have started a nest and hopefully their eggs will be observed on our next trip. Along with the many occupants in the nest boxes, we were also lucky to spot a great horned owl as well as two bald eagles.
Several raccoon prints and scratches on many of the boxes have proven that it will be necessary to upgrade the boxes to include baffles in order to protect the birds from predators. Bill Ralph is working on building these and any donations would be appreciated (see below). Interested in volunteering for this program? Send an email to email@example.com.
Photos and article by Julia Bristow, Forest Biologist/Fire Ecology Instructor, Reedley College