Saturday, September 21, 2013

Field Studies Report July 2013

It sure has been hot outside.  I hope everyone is staying hydrated.  I know I sure am.  In spite of the heat, however, the birds are keeping busy.

It has been an amazing season.  Since March over 300 birds have been banded and I expect many more in the next week or two.  I have gotten better at getting to nests before the chicks strike out on their own.  Only 48 birds have fledged before a band could be placed on them.  In general, the baby birds are big enough to be banded ten days after hatching, and will fledge (that is, fly away from the nest) within the next week.  However, there are a few factors that can shorten, or lengthen this time scale.  Well-fed babies can fledge several days earlier.  On the flip side; if the parents are having a hard time finding food for them, it can take much longer for their young to fledge.
Baby Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebirds and the House Wrens are neck and neck in their dominance in the field, with the boxes almost evenly split between the two.  The Eastern Bluebirds are now on their third clutch while the House Wrens have just started their second clutch.   That is to say, the Eastern Bluebirds have started a nest and raised chicks three separate times.  Carolina Chickadees and Eastern Tufted Titmice finished up the season after just one clutch.

Sadly, all things must come to an end.  The 2013 summer season is starting to slow down.  Soon the birds will begin preparing for the winter and the nesting season will end.  There are many more nests out there now, but this may very well be the last clutch of the year.

The Eastern bluebirds and House Wrens are both migratory species.  Bluebirds will finish up their last clutches, then head into the woods and begin fattening up for the winter.  Most will migrate south; a few will tough it out here.  In contrast all the House Wrens will move to warmer climates at the first hint of frost.  You aren’t likely to see them messing around in the cold.

Carolina Chickadees and Eastern Tufted Titmice will hang around throughout the winter.  Both are clever foragers and know what it takes to survive the winter.  Now is the time to be cleaning up the feeders and getting them ready for the really heavy winter bird feeding months.

It has been an excellent year for the Ameren Mo nest box study.  I have been able to collect a lot of valuable data.  The success rate is excellent and with this good weather and plenty of bugs to eat the birds couldn’t be happier.  As you all know the purpose of this study is to keep an eye on the environment in the Ameren Mo right-of-ways, and it looks like the environment is in good shape this year.  We are very thankful to Ameren  Mo for their support and concern for our feathered friends.

Submitted by Neal Cowan, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Supervisor

No comments: