Tom's Blog

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cleaning out the bird houses

Kathie and I took advantage of yesterday's fantastic weather to finish cleaning out our birdhouses, getting ready for the 2012 crop.

Kathie had cleaned out her bluebird houses on a good-weather day in late December. Yesterday was an even better day, and we cleaned out the two kestrel houses and the wood duck house. Cleaning involves removing all last year's wood chips and bird debris, and putting in some fresh wood chips.

It takes two people to handle the kestrel houses. They are on very tall poles that are articulated so that the houses can be brought down to the ground. The shadows in the photo below show us in action. When Kathie finishes cleaning, I have to reach up to the end of the pole and pull it down, thus raising the house again. (It takes a tall person.)

We have two kestrel houses, but only one is being used. We have had fledglings in the one house every year since we first installed them in 2008. We have seen kestrels around the second house but so far no success with nesting.

The wood duck house is much closer to the ground, but near the boardwalk that permits access to the wetland. This house has been up for two season's now, but instead of a wood duck we have been getting a hooded merganser. Birders tell us that the merganser is a lot rarer than a wood duck, so we should be happy.

When we opened the wood duck house this year we found one whole unhatched egg, plus the remains of at least one additional egg which may have represented a fledged merganser.


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