Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Thursday, June 30, 2011

CAWR Nest, TRES Egg, & Traces

I spent some time cleaning out a few of my nest gourds this morning. I always place nest boxes and nest gourds out for cavity nesting birds. I especially enjoy my tree swallows (TRES). Each nesting season I have several families of tree swallows nest on my property. This year I have had TRES, Carolina wrens (CAWR), house wrens (HOWR), and Eastern bluebirds (EABL). Each year I  participate in the citizen science program, NestWatch, by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Anyone can participate. You simply become knowledgeable about cavity nesters (plenty of information on Cornell Lab's website: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/), monitor your nest boxes/keep data, and then submit that data to NestWatch via online or mail. (TRES, CAWR, etc. are codes used in bird banding to identify bird species--it allows an abbreviated usuage rather than writing out the full common name).

In one of my tree swallow nesting gourds, one egg did not hatch. Below is a photo. As you can tell the eggs are very small. This pair laid 6 eggs and 5 fledged. Tree swallows feed on flying insects and some berries. They nest in tree cavities or nest boxes. Mine love my white plastic gourds for nesting. Nests are made from grasses and feathers. The feathers help to keep nestlings warm and reduce the presence of ectoparasites. They are one of the lovliest nests with all the downy feathers added to the bed of dried grasses. They always look inviting!

                                           Tree Swallow Egg-unhatched   ©Joni L. James

                                          Male Tree Swallow
I also cleaned out the Carolina wren (CAWR) nest gourd which hung inside an open-sided "shed". I pulled the globe of grasses and leaves from the gourd in order to photograph it. CAWRs are very small birds with surprisingly loud voices. They definitely make their presence known! Males and females bond for life and will travel their territory together eating insects and spiders all year round. They typically lay 3-7 creamy white eggs -- finely spotted with brown. This nest produced 5 eggs and they all fledged.

Incubation takes usually 12-16 days and the nestling period lasts 12-14 days.

                                          Carolina wren nest.  ©Joni L. James

In this image the nest is sitting upright on a stone wall-- it is globular in shape with the opening on the front side. This is the positioning it had in the plastic gourd. It is an interesting nest of dead grasses, fine hair, and dead leaves.

                                          Carolina wren    ©Joni L. James

I searched  the trunk of an old maple tree outside the my home this morning hoping to find gray treefrogs hiding in the grooves and folds of the lichen covered bark. Instead I found evidence of the feeding by either a tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, or white-breasted nuthatch. These birds snatch sunflower seeds from my feeder and fly off to the surrounding trees to open the hulls to enjoy the meat within. They will frequently lodge them in crevices and then hammer open the sunflower seed. Seeds will also be cached for later.

                                                        Sunflower Seed Hull  ©Joni L. James

As always, interesting discoveries are awaiting if you only take the time to observe closely. Look up, look down, and look around. What might you find if you look carefully?

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