Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20

The Dance Still Goes On........

     I sometimes think of this period in the season as "the dance". It kind of reminds me of all the drama that used to surround a high school dance. You know...stuff like "Who is going with who?", Where did those two disappear to?", "Are those two REALLY serious or is it just for show?"  You know, that kind of thing. I now have eggs confirmed in 20 boxes, but there are still quite a few that are still a toss up as to what will happen. Just in the last two days I have had single males arrive at boxes that haven't shown any kestrel activity since early April. Whether they find a mate and stay at these boxes is anybody's guess. One interesting fact is that between the 3 boxes that are just now getting some kestrel attention there have been a total of 28 starlings removed from them. This is just the kind of unpredictability that keeps me going. After removing 14 starlings from one of these boxes over the last two plus months you would think I would just take the box down. Then, lo and behold, a male shows up. Go figure. 
     I now have eggs in 7 boxes which are in their first year of the project (they were put up last Oct./Nov) but also have had no activity at all in 7 boxes which have been historically very successful boxes year after year. I am at a complete loss at to why this is happening. 
     Also of note is the fact that the first eggs laid this season will be hatching in about 15 days, yet I still have a number of boxes with paired birds who have not begun laying eggs and other boxes with single birds that haven't even found mates yet. Some of these late starters won't have young hatching until early August. That confirms my finding from last year that the window for egg laying in my project area can be up to two months long-or longer. 
     This is day 73 of monitoring for me. It definitely becomes increasingly difficult over time to get that ladder off the car and climb up to set yet another starling trap, but I have too much invested time-wise now to just stop. Due to the cold weather delay this spring, this season is turning out to be especially long and drawn out, but if this was easy everyone would be doing it. I was hoping for 30 boxes with eggs this year, but it is obvious now that I will fall short of that goal. That's OK. 
      Some stats:
-number of starlings eliminated to date= 81
-number of miles traveled to date= 3,476
-number of box visits= 802
-number of boxes with eggs= 20
-of 46 adults banded so far this year, the number who were originally nestlings from this project= 1
-this is day 73 of monitoring boxes for this season