Catching Up

It’s been a minute – well, actually over two weeks that I’ve been able to post. We were super busy holding the Handler’s Instruction class for three clients who received their Service Dogs that we trained for them. I love my job, but life would be so wonderful if I my time didn’t have to be so wholly committed to it! isn’t that what everyone says?

Preparing for the class then holding it, and finally recovering from all that activity left me aching to get out to see what was happening on the farm with all the birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately, the first time I sat in the golf cart and drove about 100 feet I knew something was wrong. The front left tire was completely off its rim!

Fortunately, I have a very competent husband who can fix a lot of things! After a couple of days I was finally able to complete the mission of getting out and about. Thanks Honey!

In the time that I was held up with real work, I entirely missed out on the last days of feeding and then fledging of two Tree Swallow and three Bluebird pairs. These few photos are all I have to show that the very first PVC box we produced this year and was erected in my office patio yard, was used by a pair of Bluebirds. I was excited that the box was just a mere 50 feet from my patio and I’d be able to record everything that transpired. For weeks no birds moved in, but then this pair showed up and got underway quite quickly. I think this may have been their second brood of the year. It’s really amazing how quickly a pair of birds can go from building a nest to fledging their chicks. They hatch after 13 to 14 days after the female begins incubation. It can be as quick as 16 days from hatching to fledging.

When I checked the PVC nest boxes I had been observing which were used by three Tree Swallow and two other Bluebird pairs, they were all empty – however one of them had been cleaned out and was already being used by a pair of House Wrens. The commercial box (position #14) which was used by Tree Swallows first, appears to have a new nest (no eggs.) The red (Cardinal?) feather makes me think it’s another (or the same) Tree Swallow pair, as this species likes to add feathers of any type to their nests. I will keep checking to see if eggs are laid. The color of the eggs will let me know the species in the event I don’t immediately see the parent birds.

The PVC box (#15) that was used by Bluebirds has been taken by House Wrens as mentioned.

The new PVC box that we put up at the south end of Sham’s Paddock (near box #16, so I’m calling it #16B) didn’t have any activity in the first half of summer. Now, I’m excited to say it contains three Tree Swallow eggs! The day prior (Wednesday) there were two eggs. So, I know this is an active pair.

Yesterday, I discovered a wooden box used by Bluebirds (south side of the west hay field) that had apparently been attacked by a predator (most probably a raccoon.) The door had been ripped right off the box! I’m assuming that the predator was after the chicks which, the last time I filmed them were quite well developed as I could see their beaks popping up through the hole. I can only hope that they actually fledged before the door was torn off the box. Here are a few photos of that pair. You can tell by the size of that insect that the babies are quite large. So, there’s hope they got out before the raccoon found the box.

That incident made me realize how valuable the PVC boxes are to the birds. We don’t have any predators that can rip open six inch PVC pipe.

The incident made me review the condition of the remaining wooden boxes which are mostly one or two years old. They are all a bit weathered and worn. Now that I have some preliminary data that the PVC boxes were quickly and successfully used by the birds — I’ve decided to ultimately replace all the wooden boxes with the PVC model that I designed and Robert and I built.

As you can see in the photos above, the PVC boxes can be opened by removing the roof, but there are no “seams” that can break like the wooden boxes have. The removable roof means that I don’t have to worry about anything falling out when I open the door to see what’s going on in the box. I can set my cell phone camera atop the open top, snap a photo and then close up the top within seconds. It means much less tampering to check the status in the boxes.

With our work schedule a little light for a few weeks, I’m hoping we can focus on the wildlife. I truly enjoy this hobby. It brings me great joy.

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