American Goldfinch nest

American Goldfinch nest

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?

4 comments:

  1. I did open one box and was thrilled to find some healthy, young Tree Swallows inside. I quickly closed the box and giggled like a school girl!

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  2. Your area one is quite interesting with the good and bad. The Beardie bit really pisses me off.

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  3. Thank you for your excellent blog, thoroughly enjoyed it. In Shorthills Provincial Park (Niagara) we don't seem to have problems with ants in the nesting boxes but rather maggots. The nesting boxes are checked every 2 weeks. These are blue bird boxes but of course are mostly inhabited with Tree Swallows. Have you had problems with maggots? I know the boxes are cleaned out prior to nesting season and if they find maggots and babies alive during their checks, they will clean out the boxes and put in fresh nesting material.

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    1. No. We've never experienced maggots before. That's odd. Maggots usually come due to dead things, right? Could it be blow fly larvae? https://www.nlm.nih.gov/visibleproofs/galleries/technologies/blowfly.html

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