Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | July 30, 2016

End of the banding season

I banded my last nest of bluebird babies on Tuesday. It was at Pequenakonck Elementary School in N. Salem.

BB last baby banded

There had been several nest attempt in this box, but all failed because of the bad ole house sparrow. Finally success. I had captured the female at an earlier visit and was thrilled that I captured the male. He was my official last band of the season.

BB last adult banded 2016

Today I had my last “recapture.” The story isn’t so happy. Last July I banded a female in box 5 at Gate of Heaven. She incubated the eggs for over a month (into August) but they never hatched. This year I recaptured her in the same box in May. She proceeded to have 3 clutches of eggs this year and none hatched. She is presently still incubating her 3rd clutch which sadly won’t hatch. I know for sure because I opened one today and it was just yoke and white – no embryo development. The male is still around lending support, but all for naught. Too bad.

BB female GoH6 - last band - incubating sterile eggs (Medium)Give this female E for Effort. Each time she lays 5 eggs (once 6 eggs) and all are sterile. Not sure if it is her or her male partner who is the blame. But she had had sterile eggs for 2 years in a row.

This is the first year since I started banding in 2011 that I have had no nests to band in August. Overall, it’s been a very unusual bluebird nesting season. We had a quantum leap in the number of nest attempts – up from 112 last year to 137 this year. But the nest failure rate will be about 40%, up from our usual 20% failure rate. I blame a cold snap in spring for some of this, but not all of it. Hope we go back to “normal” next year.

Now I’ll be busy entering my banding data into the government banding database, plus entering all the nesting activity in all 270 nestboxes we monitored this year. Couldn’t do it without the help of over 30 monitors and untold number of other people who help with our bluebird project. Thanks to all!





  1. So interesting, but sad, the nest at Gate of Heaven. Am I right in thinking that Bluebirds don’t always stay with the same mate? If so, and given that no chicks have come along over 2 years I wonder whether it might be something wrong with her, not him (I hope I am not sounding chauvinistic here…).

    Bravo, BTW, in your recaps, including the elusive male!

    Thanks for your wonderful posts Sandy.


  2. Hi Sandy
    After reading this I see my box 5 failed. I thought they would hatch because they were warm
    When I touched them. Thanks for the info. I agree with you, the weather was a factor. L

    Lydia Blake


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