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Submitted By

Ian Stewart

Greenville, DE, United States


Nests in boxes

Nest-box Birds Of Delaware

Carolina Chickadee hatchlings

12 responses to “Nest-box birds of Delaware”

  1. Robyn Bailey says:

    Did both females incubate and feed? Or did one female raise all 9 young by herself? That is a large brood, for sure!

    • Ian Stewart says:

      Yes, they both fed! All 10 eggs hatched out but the last one hatched 1-2 days after the rest and ended up dying. Still, I was amazed all 9 fledged!

      • Robyn Bailey says:

        Yeah, I can imagine the latecomer probably just could not catch up. I am going to share this remarkable story with our Facebook fans, because 9 out of 10 is still a very good outcome.

  2. Robyn Bailey says:

    Hi Ian, thought you’d like to know your Tree Swallow photo made this month’s eNewsletter: It’s currently featured on our homepage as well under the “news” section. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ian Stewart says:

      Hi Robyn,
      Actually, the nestlings and adults at this box were indeed banded and also blood sampled, and both females were caught in the box while nestlings were present so I think they were both doing their share of rearing!

      I did DNA analysis on the blood samples and by combining this with the number of eggs present each time the nest was checked I was able to work out that the first female had laid her 4th egg out of a clutch of 6 on the same day that the second female laid her 1st egg out of a clutch of 4. This gave the amazing total of 10 eggs in the nest. All 10 hatched but 1 later died, which by deduction was one of the ones produced by the first female.

      It was all pretty crazy in there!

  3. Tom Clark says:

    Based on your experience…when I see a lot of duck feathers being used in the nest box (usually my blue bird boxes) does that usually indicate swallow activity vs wren or titmouse or bluebird? I need to pay more attention to during nesting time to see who is coming and going but thought you might know…

  4. Robyn Bailey says:

    I stand corrected. Well, I will be sure to update this on our website version! I guess I should have asked, but I assumed that they would not be banded since that requires permits (and I can’t see bands in the photos). You are obviously very knowledgeable about what happened, so that will teach me to ask before I assume.

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise and your story and photos!

  5. mike fite says:

    What is the function of the smaller, unfinished, perpendicular board that is screwed to the to the left of the entrance hole?

  6. Ian Stewart says:

    No worries Robin, you were totally justified in assuming they wouldn’t be banded! Very few people who monitor nest box trails are able to band their birds and I think the birds I took photos of don’t have any visible bands.

    Tom – in my (limited) experience, large duck or goose feathers are a classic sign of a Tree Swallow nest. Bluebirds usually just build a small neat cup of straw or grass, and wrens usually just use sticks, save a few small feathers in the lining. I’ve never been lucky enough to attract a titmouse but I have my fingers crossed for this year!

  7. Ian Stewart says:

    Hi Mike,
    That weird looking piece of wood is how I catch the adult birds for banding. It is normally held in place by two screws so that it can’t accidentally fall down and trap a bird inside the box. When I want to catch an adult bird I loosen the screws so that the piece of wood now pivots at the lower screw, then I tie fishing line to it and hide some distance away. Once the bird enters I pull on the fishing line and the wood closes over the hole. I then screw the wood safely back in place. It is quick and easy and the birds are banded and released in just a few minutes. I do banding demonstrations for the general public and people always ask about the piece of wood. Most people think it is something that I put there to keep predators away!

  8. Robyn Bailey says:

    Another of Ian’s photos made our Facebook page today. Check it out here:

  9. Susan Andrews says:

    A pair of Carolina or Black Capped Chickadees nested in a bluebird box and laid 4 eggs. The babies hatched and live about 6 days. I looked into the box every 2 or 3 days. On Sunday I was outside a lot and was hanging clothes to dry near the box. The chickadees fussed at me frequently while I was in the backyard. Three days later I checked on the nest and all of the bsby birds had died. There were no signs of foul play by a predator. Did the parents abandon the nest?

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