Nesting Box Report
This year the Reservation's
15 tree swallow boxes were put in place on April I and 2 by
Fresh Pond Ranger Jean Rogers and volunteer Elizabeth Wylde.
As we were putting up the boxes behind Neville Place, we noticed
tree swallows hovering overhead. At our next stop we noticed
them again. It appears that they were waiting for us to finish
the job so that they could begin looking over their summer residences.
Later that day, swallows were seen inspecting the box near the
The birds quickly
took up housekeeping in most of the boxes. This year we did
not open any of the boxes until July 6, when we believed that
the broods had already fledged. Even then we found that three
of the boxes contained young swallows. These boxes were left
in place, and the other 12 boxes were taken down for cleaning
and winter storage.
The final tally shows
that five of the boxes contained clear evidence of successful
swallow broods (a feathered nest with many droppings and no
dead birds.) Another box was successfully used by chickadees.
The results from five other boxes were somewhat ambiguous: No
record was made of the final contents of the three that contained
young birds in July. Two other boxes each contained one dead
bird. From the presence of droppings in these nests, we conclude
that they probably did produce fledglings. Two additional boxes
contained skeletal remains of young birds, and we consider them
to have been unsuccessful. Two boxes contained no nests and
clearly were not used.
The four chickadee
boxes have been left in place over the winter because these
small birds begin nesting in February before the ground is thawed
enough to drive the supporting poles into the soil. In late
fall of 2009 the boxes were emptied of debris and insects, and
a handful of wood shavings was placed inside. Chickadees excavate
their own cavities, and in the process are stimulated to lay
Our chickadee boxes
are difficult to visually monitor due to the furtive behavior
of chickadees and the fact that the boxes at Lusitania Meadow
are not very visible from the path due to the growth of vegetation.
During the summer, house wrens were observed leaving the two
Lusitania boxes. The boxes were inspected and emptied on December
9. The two at Lusitania both contained nests that are characteristic
of house wrens: sticks and a few feathers,. Box B contained
a single, tiny, intact light brown egg. It was probably an infertile
one that remained in the nest while the rest of the brood was
raised and fledged
Seven new nesting
boxes were put up on the Reservation in February: four boxes
for screech owls and three boxes for wood ducks. In May and
June a screech owl was observed several times in Box 4 behind
Neville Place. Also in May, European starlings were seen leaving
Box 2. In October, screech owls were heard in the vicinity of
Boxes 2 and 3 in the woods adjacent Lusitania Meadow, although
none were seen in the boxes. None of the wood duck boxes appear
to have been used. All seven of these boxes will be left in
place over the winter. When the ponds freeze, the wood duck
boxes will be opened and cleaned out, if necessary.
December 9 2010