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Friday, February 22, 2013

Eviction Day at Stateline Woods

I like to refer to bird (and mammal) box cleaning day as eviction day  because you typically end up dislodging some mice who were making their winter home in a bluebird box, a squirrel that was hiding out in an owl box, or some other critter hanging out in the boxes.  I once found a snake curled up in one of the boxes that I was cleaning--I never again went near a box without a 3' pole (or stick). I think I was more horrified than the snake but I can not be sure!!

First: Why do we even have eviction day?? In case you were not aware, you should clean out your bird boxes every year to remove the old nests and any diseases or insects that may have remained behind when the birds left . In the case of Bluebird boxes, you do not have to add any nesting material to the cleaned boxes, but typically we do add nesting material (a thin layer of wood chips) to the Wood Duck, and Screech Owl Boxes.  Unfortunately the Bat boxes cannot actually be cleaned but we can check the area around them to see if there are bats in the area.   Though the recent frigid temperatures have not made it seem that way, spring is in the air.  Wood ducks are being spotted on the creeks, I have noticed many bluebirds starting to check out nesting boxes, and Great Horned Owls are sitting on their nests, and the other owls are not far behind.  We like to offer the optimal nest spots to our local avian friends, so we dedicated Thursday, February 21 as eviction day!! 

At Stateline Woods, we have Bird Box Sponsors who have purchased a bird box that hangs at our preserve, and their name is recognized on the side of the box with a sign.  We invited all of our Bird Box Sponsors out for eviction day today and they had a great time checking out what had been living in their box, either by the remnant nesting material or sometimes we find someone taking a nap in one of the boxes. 

Much to the excitement of the crew, this fellow was seen hanging out in one of our screech owl boxes.  We didn't disturb him from his nap, and went on our merry way.  We'll leave his box for another day.  If you look really closely at the box, you will see pellets around his feet which means that this just might be his (or her) spot of contentment.  In case you didn't know, Owl Pellets are the regurgitated bits of the prey that the owls cannot digest.  If you dissect an owl pellet, you can find the skulls of many small rodents (or large depending on the size of the owl). This screech owl would only have small mammals (and frogs) on his diet. 

If you are interested in becoming a Bird Box Sponsor and joining us on Eviction Day: Click HERE for more information.  If you are interested in learning more about Owls, join us for our Owl Prowl on Monday, February 25--there are only a few spots left, so sign up now!!

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