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Friday, March 21, 2014

Bird Box Spring Cleaning

One morning last month upon arriving to our Stateline Woods Preserve a rambunctious blue bird perched himself on my side view mirror.  A brighter omen to the day I imagined given the below freezing temperatures.  Though, as I inevitably scared him off as I opened the car door he promptly returned to take another look at himself in the mirror.  I decided then that it would soon be time to clean out our nesting boxes to make way for new or returned birds. 

Blue Bird box at Stateline Woods

Just last week TLC staff headed out with a map, ladder, gloves, camera, and bucket of soft leaf litter to inspect all nesting boxes at Stateline Woods.  This bucket of leaf litter helped create a soft nesting area for the screech owl and kestrel boxes after we cleaned them out of any old debris.  . Our expedition meandered along meadow edges checking Eastern Blue Bird boxes and American Kestrel boxes then headed towards the forest interior to check on our many Eastern Screech Owl boxes, a few Wood Duck boxes dotted the stream.  In lieu of long dimensional lumber as posts we try to use 'snags' or standing pieces of a dead or dying tree.  Some of the snags along the way were rather weathered and couldn't support our ladder meaning the box would be left in its current state until it comes tumbling down in the next wind storm.

Screech Owl nest with pellets
Our search found a few field mice inhabiting the blue bird boxes, a surprised squirrel taking residence in one screech owl box, and evidence of target species namely blue bird feathers and a few screech owl pellets.  Blue birds will typically nest a few times a year so a mid summer cleaning will be necessary as well.  If this doesn't happen blue birds will build a new nest over the old.
If you are interested in helping us supply nesting boxes on our preserves please visit: TLC's Bird Box Sponsorship Program for more info.  Happy Spring Equinox!

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