Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nesting Survey

Yesterday with the help of my friend John West we conducted a nesting survey during our volunteer morning at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve.  Last winter and spring I had helped construct artificial nesting cavities in some large oak limbs that were then buried upright in the ground.  By April we had ten of these in place and began the waiting game.  During the following months we saw some interest and activity at four different nest sites, and one repeatedly was visited by a pair of Black-capped Chickadees to the point we were sure there was a nest being constructed. We have not seen any activity for a long time and I was confident that it was late enough in the season that we could open up the cavities and make an inspection without interrupting any nesting birds. What we found is as follows.  Five of the sites showed no evidence of use at all.  One site contained some bird poop and a couple of feathers suggesting that it had been used only for roosting.  Two sites had enough material to suggest that nests had been started.  Two sites had complete nests with eggs but had clearly been abandoned. In the photo above I am shown at site # 4 which had four eggs buried in the bottom of the nest, topped off with twigs, feathers and hair compacted with debris and bird poop.  The second location with eggs, which was site #10, contained four or five broken eggs.  The photo below is of the four eggs that came from sight #4.

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