The Basics Of Nest Boxes | Week 2
Hello future birders!
Last week I covered five species of birds that are most commonly nesting in the nest boxes I will check over the next ten weeks. I also wanted to recommend some bird identification field guides in case any of you are interested in knowing the other native bird species in California. Some guides I recommend are the Kaufman, Peterson, and Sibley guides to the birds of North America. Each of these three guides have a different purpose, but for beginners, I recommend the Kaufman guide. The Sibley guide is the most detailed and is best for advanced birders, while the Peterson is a good middle ground for intermediate birders.
Moving on from a recap and update of last week’s information, this week I will be talking about the basics of a nest box and how to monitor it. A nest box is made up of six panels and is a vertical rectangular prism. The front panel has a small hole for the birds to go in and out, and one of the side panels acts as a door so that monitors (like me) can access the nest.
These boxes hang onto tree branches by a wired hook that is connected to the back panel. Thus, nest boxes hang pretty high up in trees and usually cannot be reached with bare hands, so monitors must use a metal rod with a hook at the end (which I will simply call an apparatus) to take the nest down from the tree and put it back up.
Checking a Box
When taking a nest box down, monitors must be extremely careful so that there is no damage to the nest. Next, the monitor must spend as little time as possible with the nest. Usually, I will open the nest and see what’s inside: a nest, eggs, hatchlings, or sometimes nothing! If there is only a nest, I will write down what the nest is made of, take a photo, and put the nest box back up in the tree. If there are any notes I want to add after doing this, I will use the photos I took as reference so that the birds can get back to their nest with as little disruptions as possible.
A similar procedure goes for if there are eggs or hatchlings. If there are eggs, I will gently reach my hand inside and count the number of eggs. If there are hatchlings, I will count them without touching them. Once hatchlings are about to fledge, I avoid opening the box to prevent the hatchlings from artificially fledging.
Data collection consists of a couple of categories: nest number, nest material, bird species, brood number, number of eggs, number of hatchlings, number of fledglings, and notes/comments. Once I start monitoring boxes next week, I will insert screenshots of my weekly spreadsheet so you can see and track our nests’ progress along with me!
Thank you and see you next week!
“What’s the Best Book or Field Guide for Bird Identification?” All About Birds, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/whats-the-best-book-or-field-guide-for-bird-identification/. Kaufman, Kenn, et al.
Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Peterson, Roger Tory, et al. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. Sibley, David. The
Sibley Guide to Birds: North America’s Definitive Guide to Birding. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.