Photo © Keith Williams

June 2017 News


Home Tweet Home Returns July 5

Get ready to say, “Aww!” Our annual photo contest Home Tweet Home returns on July 5, and runs throughout the month. We cannot wait to see all those glossy eggs, fluffy babies, and attentive parents. This year’s contest features the categories: Cutest Baby, Nests & Eggs, Feeding Time, and Eyewitness.

We introduced the Eyewitness category in 2016 and were amazed at the interesting behaviors and insightful observations that were submitted to the contest. Submissions to this category are encouraged to tell a story, or highlight a seldom-seen aspect of nesting biology (this includes trail cam or nest box cam photos, too).

Review our photographer’s guidelines, grab your camera, and get out there! As in years past, great prizes will be handed out to winners of each category.

The contest opens July 5; watch our website for contest entry instructions and official rules.


Mobile App Gets New Features

Our mobile app recently underwent a significant update and now features a brand new location tracking and mapping experience.

We have improved the user experience by streamlining data entry, making entering your nests even easier! We simplified the process of finding nests near your current location and editing nest sites. The map now has a “full screen” mode for easier viewing on small screens. Among our favorite updates is the addition of simple icons to remind you if the nest you’re approaching last had eggs or young, so you know what to expect (pictured above).

Have questions about the app? Check out our FAQs. Need to download or update the app? Find it in Google Play and the Apple App Store.


New Birdhouse Plan for Western Owls

Who doesn’t love a tiny owl with a funny name? That’s why we’re pleased to introduce you to four newbies to our Right Bird, Right House site—home to more than 50 nest box plan downloads. Meet the Flammulated Owl, Elf Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Northern Pygmy-Owl.

These small western owls are some of the least-studied owls on the continent, so we’re providing nest box plans for them in the hope that you can help us learn more. If you live in the correct range and habitat, you might be able to attract them. Accounts of their biology are rife with phrases like “few data exist,” “further study needed,” and “assumed to be…” Data from citizens could help us fill in the gaps.

It should be noted that nest boxes for Northern Pygmy-Owl are considered experimental. To date, they have not been known to use nest boxes, but the closely related Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Eurasian Pygmy-Owl do. However, all we need is one person with a nest cam to answer such basic questions as “How long are the incubation and nestling periods for this species?”

NestWatch is extremely grateful to Fred Stille, who worked with us to create the nest box plan for these four species. The plan is based off of a design by Markus Mika, a researcher who studies Flammulated Owls in Utah and Arizona. We thank Fred and Markus for making this plan available online to interested NestWatchers.


Master’s Student Shares Her Data

We are happy to report that NestWatch is permanently archiving Sara Harrod’s Master’s thesis data for future researchers to use. Sara recorded 187 nest records of central Texas species, such as Black-crested Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Bewick’s Wren, and Eastern Bluebird, among others. Her research into the effects of vegetation “edges” and other landscape characteristics on the breeding biology of native cavity-nesting birds was supported by Texas State University. Way to go, Sara!

Increasingly, the scientific community is realizing that loss of data should no longer be a risk in the modern digital age. Therefore, archiving one’s data in a stable, public repository is becoming the standard for ensuring its longevity. All it takes is one hard drive failure for years of effort to disappear. If you have nesting data from a previous project, don’t let it become lost or obsolete! NestWatch will work with you to upload your nest records into our permanent, secure database, just as we did with Sara. Contact us to learn more about our bulk upload tool.