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Bird Box Project Update

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by F8L, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    I just thought I'd give everyone an update on the Nesting Box Program I started on one of our nature preserves.

    As some of you know, I am a land manager and one aspect of my work entails doing restoration work. I was charged with installing a few nesting boxes on our grassland/vernal pool preserve (427 acres) but I decided to turn it into a project that would end up installing 50+ boxes in the next 2yrs and using school childen for the building, installation and monitoring of the boxes.

    Last nesting season we had 28 bluebird/tree swallow boxes installed by 5th grade girls from a local elementary school, a handful of volunteers from the community college and a few general volunteers. Since we did not get the monitoring project up and going in time I had to go by my estimates obtained by regularly checking boxes hwile out on the preserve and I came up with:

    60-70 Tree Swallow fledglings
    5 Bluebird fledglings

    This season I have a 14yr old girl scout heading up the project as part of her Silver Project and she will be building and installing an additional 15-30 boxes on another preserve (329acres of oak woodland habitat) as well as cleaning and monitoring existing boxes. She will also lead a short tour to her nesting boxes as part of our Treasured Landscape Tour we give each spring. We generally have about 40-50 community members on each tour.

    Here are some recent photos her little sister took while we toured one preserve and got her oriented with the property and the work being done there.

    #1 Nesting boxes installed last season (the 2 are close together because tree swallows are agressive and they will outcompete bluebirds for nesting space. Once they have their own box they will ignore bluebirds but will defend the area against other swallows. So by putting 2 boxes close together the bluebirds get a well defended home.

    #2 Girl scout's father, myself and the girl scout
    #3 Typical oak savanah habitat
    #4 Male bluebird spies food!
    #5 Male bluebird wondering what this little girl is doing with that black device stuck to her face
    #6 Teaching the family how to identify the different oaks by their leaves (from left to rightt: interior live oak, valley oak, and blue oak)
    #7 She is painting wooden birds that she gives to people who take part in her adpot a bird box program that she started to help fund the overall project. Materials run about $20 per bird box half of which is the $10 8' t-post!

    Here is a link to some of the other work being done out there as well as pics of the tree swallows. They are just too cute!

    http://priuschat.com/forums/environ...95-great-day-work-preserve-pics-included.html

    Attached Files:

  2. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    Is that a small cemetery on the right side of photo #3? I see something that looks like a headstone.

    Great to see you out and about.
  3. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Indeed it is. It is Manzanita Cemetery just outside of Lincoln. Back in the 1800s there used to be many more oaks and foothill pines in the area and the area of the cemetery served as a hideout for cattle rustlers. :)
  4. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Just a couple of stupid questions from an ignorant Aussie, why are the boxes on poles not in trees?

    How do you keep cats away?

    And great to see the community involved in this type of conservation project. I love it!
  5. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Bah, you only wish you were ignorant my friend. :p

    The boxes are on poles because the type of birds we are working with tend to feed in open meadows or grasslands. If we put the boxes in wooded areas on trees a couple of issues may arise.

    #1 Predation is more likely to occur because many predators can climb the trees and wait for the birds or even climb into the nests to get babies and eggs.

    #2 In our area we have house sparrows which are an invasive pest. They will invade the nest of the native birds and literally drill holes into the skulls of baby birds or destory the eggs and take over the nest box.

    #3 We just don't have a lot of trees in the grassland area which only leave the riparian zone as an option and there is just too much competition in there.

    Cats, raccoons, snakes, bobcats, and other predators are generally thwarted by the height of the nesting boxes which are approx. 6' off the ground and the 4" PVC tubing around the t-post makes the post unclimbable. A bobcat and some house cats could likely leap the 6' or so to try and catch a bird but that kind of distance allows the birds to react and increase the chances that it will escape. It's not perfect but it seems to work. Plus, if the poles were any higher then monitoring the boxes each year would be difficult for anyone but Hill. LOL

    Here is more info on house sparrows.

    Bluebird facts for anyone interested in setting up their own box.

    Our organization tries to create different projects that community members can get involved in. This not only helps support our land preservation and managment efforts but it helps the volunteers learn more about management techniques or simply get outside and do work they feel is worthwhile. :)
  6. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Watch out, I have a degree in BS!

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    F8L, thanks for doing this, both the work of it, and keeping people informed about it! :thumb:
  7. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    I forget who it was that called me an ignorant Aussie on PC.
    Thanks for your response, my ignorance is slightly depleted now.

    Maybe you can get Hill in on the project, or get Evan out there, he is no short arse.
    Or my way to cope, a 2 step step-ladder.

    I need to find plans for Adelaide Plains Rosella nesting boxes. They come to my home to feed on the flowering gums in my yard but my trees are too young to have hollows for nests.
    I also have other small parrots around. I love having the birds in my back yard.
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