Saturday, October 5, 2013

Final Field Studies Report - 2013

The final tally is in and the overall success rate of the 2013 season is 58%.  With the nice weather we had over the season, it truly has been an amazing year; 764 eggs were laid in total with 440 chicks fledging.  This is a slight increase from the 2012 season, which had a 56% success rate.

Your author checking one of the nest boxes

It has been a decade now since the World Bird Sanctuary began working closely with Ameren Missouri to research the environmental impact of flora management in the Ameren Missouri utility line right-of-ways.  For those of you who don’t know, the primary focus of our work with Ameren Missouri is on the success rate of the Missouri native cavity-nesting songbirds and which management method, if any, has the most successful impact.

The three management schemes compared are spraying of herbicide, mowing of plant life and a combination of the two.  For the purpose of this study bird nest boxes have been installed on different Ameren Missouri utility structures to compare the nesting success of several native bird species.  The outcome of these nesting attempts will help indicate which management scheme is most beneficial for the birds residing in the area.

Monitoring of boxes began on the cold morning of March 15, 2013 and concluded on August 15, 2013. 

A Bluebird chick ready to be banded

Nest boxes were checked on a weekly basis.  Each box was opened and checked for a nest. When nests were discovered, the type and materials used to make it were recorded.  If eggs or chicks were present, they were banded and the number, type, and a brief description were recorded.  If chicks were of banding age, the US Fish and Wildlife band was placed on one of its legs, and the number, size, date and location were recorded.

The birds typical to the study are the Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Chickadee, House Wren and the Eastern Tufted Titmouse.

A Bluebird nest with Turkey feather woven in

Eastern Bluebirds live about 4-5 years and typically lay between 3 and 5 eggs.  Eggs are incubated for 13-16 days and the chicks fledge 15-20 days after hatching.  They make a nest of dried grass and small twigs lined with feathers, hair or fur.

House Wrens live about 5 years and lay 6-8 eggs in a nest of twigs lined with fur and even snakeskin.  Incubation lasts 13-15 days and young leave the nest between 12-18 days after hatching.

Carolina Chickadees live approximately 4-5 years and lay between 5 and 8 eggs.  Incubation of the eggs requires 11-13 days and nests consist of soft materials such as fur, feathers and moss.  Chicks fledge the nest 13-17 days after hatching.

This is the project I have been working on this summer, and this has been one of the best summer jobs I have ever had.  I just want to thank everyone at the World Bird Sanctuary and Ameren Missouri for the opportunity.

Submitted by Neal Cowan, World Bird Sanctuary Field Studies Supervisor

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