Ok, Blue Bird fans, it’s Week #15 update time for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Program in the city of Long Beach, on the 45-acre campus of the South Mississippi Regional Center!
So, here is what ‘Master Naturalist’ buddy John and I found today, June 12, 2008, walking around campus during (this week) on a Thursday afternoon Blue Bird Trail nesting survey.
Following the Survey results, is the nesting box program we used to build the BLUE BIRD TRAIL in Long Beach.
Master Naturalist Buddy John checks one of the nesting boxes.
Here are this week’s Survey results:
Box #1- Empty box, no activity. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
Box #2- 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.
Box #3- Empty box, no activity. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
John inspects another nesting box.
Box #4- New nest, 2 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies flew the nest.
Box #5- Empty box, no activity. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
Box #6- 2 Blue Bird babies flew the next, 3 sterile Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: At least 2 Blue Bird babies.
Box #7- 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies.
John inspects one more.
Box #8- Empty box, no activity. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
Box #9- 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.
Box #10- Empty box, no activity. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
4 Blue Bird babies in nesting box #9.
Box #11- Fresh new straw. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
Box #12- Half of a new Blue Bird nest built. – Last week: Empty box, no activity.
Box #13- 3 Blue Bird babies flew the nest. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies.
Totals This Week (June 12, 2008): 7 Blue Bird eggs, 8 Blue Bird babies, 5 Blue Bird babies flew the nest, 4 sterile Blue Bird eggs, 7 empty nesting boxes (includes the 2 boxes where babies flew the nest).
Totals Last Week (June 6, 2008): 8 Blue Bird eggs, 11 Blue Bird babies, 4 Blue Bird babies flew the nest, at least 1 sterile Blue Bird egg, 7 empty nesting boxes.
Master Naturalist buddy John continues to be very enthused about the activity, and reports that so far, 28 Blue Bird babies and 6 Chickadee babies have flown from the nesting boxes during this first season of the new Blue Bird Trail. The weather today was partly cloudy, light wind and about 87 degrees.
Another update will be along next weekend.
HOW WE BUILT OUR BLUE BIRD TRAIL:
Although we are well past the halfway point in our Blue Bird nesting season here on the Long beach campus, I thought you might like to know how our Blue Bird Trail was laid out and the nesting boxes assembled and deployed, in case you might wish to try our methods in your program this year yet or next year.
Prior to early March when we constructed and deployed the 12 new Blue Bird nesting boxes and poles, there was only a single nesting box on the entire campus. That nesting box annually had a Blue Bird pair raise several batches of young birds.
Around that time, Master Naturalist Buddy John and the SMR Center Director decided to greatly expand the Blue Bird nesting capacity of the campus, which translated into assembling nesting boxes and mounting materials to add another 12 nesting boxes on the campus.
Following are the materials contained in one nesting box mounted and ready for occupancy:
1. Blue Bird Nesting boxes: we obtained our nesting boxes from WalMart, at a cost of approximately $10.00 each.
-the nesting boxes open in the front, pivoting at the bottom of the box, and appear to be made of cedar wood.
-box size: 13″ tall, 4 7/8″ deep, and 5 3/8″ across
-roof slants from high in the back to lower in the front.
2. Mounting materials (per each assembly):
2 1/4″ – 3 1/2″-long stainless steel stove bolts
2 1/4″ – stainless steel nuts
4 1/4″ – stainless steel flat washers
1 1 3/4″ x 8′ long metal electrical conduit (these come in 10′ lengths – need to be cut, and drilled with 2 holes near the top one end)
1 2″ x 8′ long PVC electrical conduit (these come in 10′ lengths – need to be cut)
3. Need a post hole driver and stepladder to drive the 8′ metal electrical conduit into the ground 2′.
4. Need a drill to drill 2 1/4″ holes in one end of the metal conduit and the back of the nesting boxes.
5. Need socket wrenches to mount box to pole.
How to prepare poles and boxes:
1. Measure and cut the metal conduit poles to 8′
2. Measure and drill two holes in one end of the metal poles; hole spacing should be about 3″ apart.
3. Measure and drill the same sized and spaced holes in the back of the nesting boxes
4. measure and cut the 10′ PVC pipes to 6′ each (can use two sections together where one has the “bell” on one end
Proceeding with the nesting box deployment:
Nesting box placement: Each box should be placed in an open area, if possible, with the box facing south, with each box located at least 100 yards from the other boxes. If possible, place the box so that there will be a fence or a tree(s), or bush at some distance in front of the box, so that when the young birds fly from the box, they will have something higher than the ground to land on during that first flight.
5. At selected nesting box placement site, use step ladder and metal post driver and pound metal post 2 feet into the ground, with the end with the two holes on the top side. Box mounting holes should face north and south.
6. Slide 6 feet of the gray PVC pipe over the metal pole down to the ground level. If using a piece with a bell at one end, open end of bell should face down towards the ground.
7. Mount the nesting box to the top of the metal pole, using the 2 bolts, 4 flat washers (one inside the box and the other on the back side of the box). The bottom of the box should end up being approximately 5′ off the ground.
8. Turn the front of the box so that there will be a tree or fence somewhere to the front of the box opening, so that when the young birds fly from the box, they have one of those to land on in that first flight.
Please note: this is not the only way nesting boxes may be constructed, assembled, facing and deployed. It is the way we used, after John ontained instructions from several notable Blue Bird sites, and it has exhibited excellent success in having Blue Bird pairs nest and raise babies there.
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR BLUE BIRD NESTING PROJECT!
Happy Birding and have a good week!
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