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2005 Nest Box Report
This year Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation put up and monitored eight nest boxes on the Reservation: the four tree swallow boxes built in 2004, and four new boxes designed for chickadees.
Tree Swallow Boxes
On April 7, 2005, the four swallow boxes were put up on metal posts with wire mesh predator guards, in the same locations as in 2004. The tree swallow boxes were opened occasionally to check progress and detect unwanted inhabitants. This procedure does not appear to unduly upset the birds: as soon as we moved away, the adults returned and behaved normally.
Tree Swallow Box Checks:
Because we did not monitor the boxes this year as closely as we did last year, we do not have as clear an idea of how many young swallows were fledged. Perhaps there were 10 to 14. It is possible that nest building was delayed, and some eggs or chicks were lost, due to prolonged periods of cold, wet weather in April and May. We plan to watch more closely next year for house sparrows, and to remove any nests before eggs are laid.
Four nesting boxes for chickadees were assembled during the "Chickadee Nest Box Workshop" on March 5, 2005. Tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatches might also use this type box. These boxes were mounted on metal pipes with predator guards and, on March 13, were put up in back of Neville Place, on the borders of the grassy area. A handful of wood shavings were put in the bottom of each box as recommended on several websites. It is believed that the process of excavating a cavity, which chickadees must do in the wild, is a stimulus for nest building.
Although chickadees were once observed perching on one of the boxes, no birds were seen entering any of them. No plans were made to open any of the boxes for inspection because we read that chickadees will abandon their nest if they are disturbed.
We speculate that the boxes were not occupied because they were put up too late for the nesting window of these hardy residents. The ground was frozen until about March 11, so that pipes couldn't be pounded in. Our plan for next year is to leave the boxes in place over the winter. We will check the insides after the weather turns cold, to be sure that no insects or other animals have moved in or left debris.
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