American Goldfinch nest

American Goldfinch nest

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What's Your Take?

I checked my last box in the Forgotten Land late last week. This was the view I had every visit prior but I knew by this visit, the young birds would have fledged. I was excited to add these results to my growing final list.
Well, this is what I saw upon arrival. Can you imagine what I suddenly felt?
Confusion? Yes. Sadness? Yes. Anger? Yes. I really cannot say for certain what happened, but I was sad for the possible outcome of those young birds, and the more I thought about it as I looked at this broken piece of wood, I could only come to the conclusion that someone broke the box off the t-bar, smashing it perhaps. I searched the ground, kicking my feet through the grass, looking for any sign of the box, or what was left of it. Nothing. I was really upset now and even more confused. What? Why? How? It's not supposed to end like this! I went for a walk through the area. I needed to back away from this and calm myself. I scoped out other bird houses and the variety of species around me, most with young birds.
I took in the butterflies too, like this Question Mark.
Can you see why it was given this name?
With a slightly clearer head and emotions cooled off, I started to head back. I wasn't sure if I was just going to keep going back to the truck or have another look around. I knew I would be looking but how hard, that was yet to be determined. As I neared the location from the other end, it is when I saw the box.
Another mix of emotions now. There was no time to acknowledge any of them though. I had to get to that box. First view, doesn't look too bad off.
Might as well build the suspense to what I found.
It's seen it's last days now, that's for sure.
I was happy to not find any little bird bodies inside. The nest was also relatively intact despite what it went through.
It easily pulled apart in my hands. I'd like to think it served it's purpose for one last time. I'm not sure what that black larva is. It was wiggling around pretty good. I put the box back in the tree, letting that unknown creature continue it's life journey.
So, what do I make of this? What do you make of this? Did someone knock the box down? Was that wood already split and finally came apart? It's nice to know someone who walked by noticed it and had the care and concern enough to pick it up and set it in a nearby tree. Proof once again that setting up these nest boxes and then forgetting about them is something that should not be. This box is one of many in the area that should have come down before this season started. I'd like to think that with how the nest looked and no bird remains of any kind, that the 5 young birds fledged. It's like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" and I'm going with a positive ending. It's not because I want to add to the successes and not to the downfalls. Without any valid proof to go either way, I'm choosing the better ending. What's your take?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Area One - Empty Nests Galore

A couple days ago I went through Area One again. It started off quite cloudy with sporadic drizzle but by the time I got moving about the grounds the sun came out, it turned hot stank humid and fast. It reminded me of every walk I did in 2016 as that was one of the hottest summers I can recall in my entire life. Anyway... today I had some company, which was nice for a change. My company was my wife Angie. She mostly "chased" butterflies and dragonflies throughout, and took a couple pics of me out there.
That's okay. She just recovered from a broken foot and it was better for her to stay on the trails and not venture into the tall grass with some very uneven landscape. I like to look at those small creatures myself but my focus is on the boxes; so having her eyeing what else was around us was great. I keep a species list and will start adding these things in a sub-list. Now for the boxes. It was as I expected. Box after box contained empty nests. I cleaned them out as I went through the area.
The nests all look rather different compared to the big feathery pillow top nests of last year.
I'm such a litter bug.
Then I found a couple throughout with ant infestations. I need a better grease and I am open for suggestions. Yes, all those little dark things are ants. Thousands!
Empty nest.
Another empty nest. I assure you those are just feathers and not bird remains.
Then I busted this guy hiding in another box.
He quickly vacated.
Then to my surprise, checking the few unclaimed boxes, as I ignored them the last few checks, now have nests and hatches within.
I've only been carrying my cell phone this season. Having a screw driver, pliers, bag of gloves, water bottle, etc is enough. So not all quality photos to be shared. But it's not about that anyway, right?
I didn't poke around too much in these 2 new discoveries but I could count at least 4 birds in each box. This is great! I'm very happy with the results so far. Of course, just like most things in life, you can only ride the highs for so long until something happens and with the last few boxes, it did. In the back of my mind, I was expecting it though. As I walked towards a pair of newer boxes we set up last year, I could only see one. I was concerned that perhaps someone took the other. This would really suck because the missing box contained 5 young in it last check. As I got closer, I saw the box, face down to the ground. Damn! Someone, something, or somehow but who really knows. Unfortunately I found the remains of the 5 young within. This happened many days ago judging by what was left. My last check was 18 days ago; perhaps I should not have waited this long?
I feel this is a cursed spot. Last year, this same box had the 5 dead young within. This is the box that I found the dead adult male inside on my last check. Now this! All I know is that the box will be moved before the start of next year's nesting season. I have 2 boxes left to check... Wood Duck Alfie's and our "Love Shack". They are no more special than any other box but there is that something, you know what I mean. First up is Alfie's box. We had the ant issue and that was taken care of. More bird remains awaited though. Two of the five young did not make it.
We are at 7 who did not make it. That is the same number as last year; but this year we have 13 nests compared to 7 in 2016. Now for the "Love Shack", the box a friend of mine built for Angie and I as a wedding gift. Deep breath. No smell of death. I am happy to report that all the birds fledged!
I need to go over my notes for all the numbers of eggs/hatches and will give a final tally in another blog. I did stumble upon a rather odd find in my walk of the grounds. I must say it is upsetting. I don't want it to take away from the success of the nesting season though. So let's try to keep this separate in our minds. I found the remains of a Bearded Dragon. This was way out in a field, far far away from any residences. It is obvious someone dumped their unwanted pet in the area. The poor thing didn't stand a chance. This was a cold hearted, thoughtless, selfish, cruel act of a person who should never have had such a pet. Taking an animal in, no matter what it is, is a lifetime commitment. Whoever did this could easily have found it a new home, giving it away for free, or turning it in somewhere.
I don't want to end the blog on this note but felt it was necessary to share. It was part of my journey on this morning. We've still got 2 nests on the go, let's hope they are both empty with my next check in a couple weeks. I've still got one to go in the Forgotten Land as well. 2017 has been a great year for Tree Swallows around here. Imagine if all those boxes never got tended to early in the Spring? Where would the birds have gone? Whoever would have thought seeing all these empty nests could bring a smile to our faces?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Another Empty Nest

Hey all, not trying to drag this blog out by any means but I visited the Forgotten Land earlier this week and checked another box I was confident would be empty; and it was! 5 more successfully fledged of Tree Swallows!
Tree Swallows leave quite the mess after they are done. The box was full of ants as well. I've come to the realization that white lithium grease does not have a seasonal lifetime to keep ants out. Thankfully not every box is effected by ants.
I cleaned the box out. I use gloves. I still haven't picked up any facial masks so I go for the old school bank robber look and use my t-shirt over my nose and mouth.
I checked the last known nest in the area. I knew the birds would still be inside and still a week or so away from fledging.
All is well inside with 5 healthy young Swallows.
Things are going very well so far with 11 hatches and 11 fledged. I will be going through Area One in the next week or so. We've got 60 more to leave their nests. It will be interesting to see what the final numbers will be. Have a great weekend!