By Dave Curry
On August 12 th, two young Bluebirds fledged from a birdhouse next to the 18th Tee of the golf course, closing out the cavity nesters season for 2021.
Overall, it was a very successful season for all involved. Eighteen birdhouses scattered from the airport to the dog park to the golf course were observed every 3 to 5 days. The Tree Swallows made 11 nesting attempts, meaning that a nest was built and at least one egg was laid in it. Ten of those were successful by fledging at least one young bird. The swallows were very prolific this year and all together fledged 52 young birds, enough to make a serious dent in the mosquito population around the lake.
Bluebirds also had a good year. There were 11 nesting attempts and 9 were successful, fledging 31 young Blues out into the real world. The July heat and drought probably limited the second nesting as did the numerous predators. Blow flies were particularly bad this year and can suck the life out of baby birds, so when anemia or poor feather development were noticed, the young were temporarily removed. All nest material along with fly larvae, was removed and replaced with clean straw and dry grass. Quickly rebuilding a nest in a bird-like manner can be more difficult than one would think, as the grass and straw kept getting stuck in my teeth. Just kidding, of course.
The temp nest only needs to last 8 to 10 days for the young to fledge. The key was getting rid of the maggots. Mites can be a problem also but are much harder to detect. House wrens made three observed nesting attempts and were successful twice. One box was cleaned of eggs by a small milk or rat snake that defeated the baffle and had a nice wren omelet. Several other wren nests were observed informally and did well. Next year we hope to add a few more nest boxes, maybe in the power line area or golf course, as we continue to grow the cavity nester population.