Sunday, March 31, 2013

April 1, 2013

     Today I checked 9 boxes. For the purpose of this blog, "checking" a box or "visiting"a box could mean anything from viewing the box at a distance through binoculars for 3-5 minutes to actually lowering the box to inspect the inside for eggs, young, or to set a starling trap. One female seen on a box in Mansfield and one starling trap set in Mansfield. I also removed a box that has been located at a local vineyard for the last four years. This box was a classic example of mistaking migrant kestrels that routinely appear at certain locations and then move on for birds that appear to be interested in stopping locally and breeding.  Coastal locations in CT are other good examples of this. Out of the four years the box was up at the vineyard, there was one year where there was breeding, but over 30 starlings were removed from the box over the years with no other evidence of kestrel breeding - despite the presence of male and female kestrels every spring during the late March-mid April period. With statistics like that, I have finally learned that it is better to just pull the plug, no matter how great the potential appears to be. 
    I also erected a new box at a local Christmas tree farm that has limited habitat that is completely surrounded by woodlands, but it is a tree farm and kestrels love tree farms. This time next year, it may join the ranks of over 100 other boxes that have been removed after their honeymoon period is over. 623 miles traveled this season so far.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday, March 31, 2013 
     This is my first blog post.  The last thing in the world I ever thought I would be doing was starting a blog, but there has been increasing interest in my kestrel nestbox project over the last few years so I thought instead of clogging up people's inboxes with emailed updates, I would create this blog that would give anyone who might be interested in what is going on a place to go to find out what is happening with my project. I plan on creating entries after every day that I am afield which means that many times these entries will be on a nearly daily basis. 
This first post will be on the long side because it will summarize what has happened since I began monitoring the boxes on March 8. 
     In the fall I removed 13 boxes that were proving to be unproductive over the last few years. At that time I also erected 15 boxes at some new, promising sites. With the 3 new boxes that I have also erected this spring, the total number of boxes now stands at 57. This spring has been much colder than last spring and some of the early data this spring seems to indicate that the arrival of kestrels to the study area, and the nestbox investigation by resident starlings, is heavily influenced by temperature. By this date last spring 19 boxes had either single or paired kestrels in the immediate vicinity. So far this spring 3 boxes have had kestrels in the vicinity. By this date last spring I had eliminated 20 starlings from nestboxes. So far this spring I have eliminated 1 starling from nestboxes. This spring's numbers are also probably artificially low because I have not visited all 57 boxes with the same frequency as last year. The installation of predator baffles on 45 of the boxes this spring has taken up a great deal of time so overall box check visits are down. From tomorrow on,  I should be able to visit many more boxes per day. Total miles traveled this season to date is 527.  As an aside, I have totally messed up my profile and have no idea how to fix it so you can pretty much ignore that until I figure out how to edit it.