Bluebird Business as Usual

It's a project that I'm all too familiar with. It was one of the first projects I got to help with when I first interned here last summer. And in terms of what to expect every time, this project falls into 1st place for being the most variable.

If you've been around the museum or Ongley Pond, you've most likely seen some of our bluebird boxes. The boxes are set up in a way to be both easily accessible to people and inaccessible to predators. These boxes are checked periodically at 2-3 week intervals. The interns and I go out to the boxes with a cordless drill and proceed to open them up one at a time. Our task is to then check the nest and write down all relevant data. This data includes bird species type, number of eggs/young, young status, and nest status.
White Memorial has been taking part in this statewide program since the 1990's. Coordinated by the Connecticut DEEP, the objective of the program is to restore the Bluebird populations that have been in decline for over 40 years. Species like the Bluebird and Tree Swallow are cavity-nesting songbirds that require preexisting cavities in their habitat in order to nest. By providing said habitats, we are able to give the birds safe areas to raise their young and thus help to bring their population back up. Besides this, we are able to use the nest box data for other purposes. For example, we can use the data to keep track of these bird populations throughout the season. We can see where each species type is hanging out and who's using which boxes. We can also get an idea of how many nestlings are surviving to adulthood.
House Wren nestlings in one of our boxes

Thankfully this project is one that interns can easily pick up on. It does take time to go to each box and record all relevant data. Though it isn't a particularly grueling task, the job isn't always a walk in the park. An outsider watching us work would probably find a couple reasons to laugh at us. The birds (especially Tree Swallows) are quite territorial around their young, meaning that they don't appreciate it when we come out to visit them. This means that we end up getting dive-bombed by birds on a regular basis. Don't worry. We get used to it. 

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