Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | April 23, 2016

Someone said “Go”

Most of we bluebird nest monitors were looking at completed nests with no eggs for quite a long time – thru the cold weeks of April. Then this week (after a week of warm temps)  someone said “go” and the egg-laying commenced!

We have at least 12 nests with bluebird eggs all throughout the county. Leading the way is Lasdon Park and Arboretum, which has 4 nests in its 4 locations. To top that off, it has one nest of 6 eggs.

I predict we will get several nests with 6 eggs this spring, like we did in the spring of 2012, after an unusually warm winter. But while this winter was warm, we had several cold weeks in early spring. So my prediction of lots of 6-egg nests may not come true. As always, time will tell.

6 BB eggs at SGC (Small)

 Nest of 6 eggs. Will we see many of these this year?

 

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | April 12, 2016

Early Nest with Eggs fails

Checked on that super early nest with eggs on Sunday. Sadly, the nest failed. Two eggs were missing and one of the two in the box had been broken open. All was cold.

Failed BB early nest - broken egg (Medium) (Small)

The egg yoke proves the eggs were laid recently. I believed they were abandoned.

 

When I arrive in the area of the box, a Tree Swallow was perched nearby. No bluebirds in sight.

Tree Swallow - Outhouse Orchard (Small)

Does this guy have egg on his face?

I was cheered to see a pair of bluebirds guarding their box further down the road at Baxter Preserve. The female has a band. The nest looks ready, but they are being smart about not laying eggs until it gets warmer.

 

BB pair Baxter 2 - f w band (Small)

And I was delighted to see a gorgeous Pine Warbler singing in a tree near the nestbox at Baxter Preserve.

Pine Warbler - Baxter Preserve (Small)

Pine Warblers are one of the earliest warbler migrants. Too bad it is just passing through.

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | April 3, 2016

1st Bluebird Eggs this year

Found 4 bluebird eggs in a nestbox located on Outhouse Orchard in North Salem today. Since bluebirds lay one egg a day, the 1st egg had to be laid March 31 or a few days earlier. I had checked this nestbox on March 28 and there were no eggs. So it is even possible the 1st egg was March 29. 1st eggs 2016 Outhouse box5 (Medium)Looking at my records, this is the earliest date that bluebird eggs have been laid since I’ve been keeping detailed records as of 2011.

Of interest, I checked my data for the date of the first egg in the past 6 years, with the previous winter’s weather in parenthesis):
2011 – April 9 (average winter)
2012 – April 1 (very warm winter)
2o13 – April 14 (average winter)
2014 – April 16 (severe winter)
2015 – April 13 (severe winter)
2016 – March 31 (very warm winter)

Following the last warm winter of 2011-2012, we had our previous earliest date for 1st egg, plus we had six nests where bluebirds laid 6 eggs. This was highly unusual. We usually only get 1 or 2 or no nests each year with 6 eggs. It will be interesting to see if we get a lot of nests with 6 eggs this year following this warm winter.

That said, the spring is starting off cool. Note the snow around the nestbox with the 1st bluebird eggs:

Outhouse box 5 w 1st eggs 2016 (Medium)

After a few warm days, we are getting an Arctic blast of high winds and temps in the 20s. I will be most curious to learn if these bluebird eggs survive. Time will tell.

 

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | March 30, 2016

Bluebirds now building nests

Saw my first bluebird nesting activity this weekend at Rockefeller SP. While most nestboxes still remain empty, a few early birds, like humans, want to be in 1st place.

IMG_1413 (2) (Medium)

Look closely and you’ll see a band on this female.

 

 

 

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | March 7, 2016

Bluebirds checking out nestboxes

One of our monitors, Iris Cohen, sent me pictures yesterday of bluebirds checking out one of our nestboxes. Here’s one of her photos:

Iris photo - BB checking out nestobox

I had recently sent a notice to all our bluebird trail monitors to check their boxes for repairs and to be ready for coming nesting season. Her sighting inspired me to check the trails which I’m responsible for.

This morning I walked around Sunningdale Golf Course.  What a treat I got! I saw at least 6 bluebirds checking out our boxes.

BB checking nestbox Sunningdale Mar 7 2016

Sorry for the poor photography, but snapped from far away before the bluebird flew off.

Of the bluebirds that would sit still to be photographed and would show their legs, all of them had our leg bands. Yeah!

BB w band Sunningdale Mar 7 2016

BB female w band Sunningdale

The bluebird nesting season is here!

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | February 28, 2016

Another banded bluebird spotted

Yesterday a birding friend told me he saw a flock of 12 to 15 bluebirds at Twin Lakes Park in Eastchester. I went that afternoon in search. I didn’t find his large flock but did see 3 hanging out in the parking lot drinking from a mud puddle.

The two males present wouldn’t reveal their legs, but when the female flew to the ground, she showed off her jewelry.

IMG_0840 (Medium)

It won’t be long before these winter flocks break up into pairs, and the battle for nesting territory and nesting cavities begins. We’ll be ready with 250 nestboxes available throughout Westchester.

 

Male E Bluebird w band - Saxon Woods (Medium)

Note the silver band on the right leg of this male.

 

 

 

Female bluebird w band - Saxon Woods (Medium)

The silver band is very visible on the right leg of this female.

The bluebirds were eating berries in a patch of wild rose. Although this in a very invasive non-native plant, it is good to see it’s feeding our bluebirds during the winter months (although, of course, helping to spread the seeds).

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | May 20, 2015

Bluebird pair has 3 year marriage

A common question: Do bluebirds mate for life? We now have proof that at least one pair at Rockefeller State Park have stuck together for 3 nesting seasons.

Both male and female were banded when they had their first brood in 2013. Last year we managed to recapture both of them when they nested together again in the same box.

This past Sunday we were thrilled when we managed to recapture them both again and see that they continued to live together in wedded bliss.

The first year they had one brood of 5 babies, the second year two broods producing 7 babies, and their first brood this year has 4 babies. That’s a total of 16 offspring!

female - 3 yr pair bond Rockefeller Pk 2015 (2)

Meet the faithful wife. Well, at least we hope she is. Bluebird research shows that all chicks in a clutch are often not sired by the same male. The rate of extra-martial affairs can be as high as 25%.

BB - RockC

Meet the Dad. All the males will look just like him, so he’ll be happy.

Thanks to Jackie Moore’s Girl Scout troop from Briarcliff Manor who provided the housing for the newlyweds in the spring of 2013.

IMG_1288 (Medium)

Her girls continue to come and help with the banding. They are getting to be quite the experts at the whole banding routine.

GSs helping w Banding

weighing nestling

 

learning to read the scale

Even younger brother has mastered reading the scale.

Research shows that pairs are more likely to stay together if they have a successful nest, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they continue to produce more bluebirds of happiness.

 

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | May 10, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day to 47 new Bluebird Moms!

We went from a slow start to the fast lane. In the past week, every time I opened my email, my dedicated monitors reported new bluebird nests.

IMG_9872

This new mom just laid 5 “white” eggs at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. New monitor, Lydia Blake, was looking for blue eggs and assumed she still didn’t have her “first” bluebird nest. I checked it out, and in addition to seeing the bluebird Mom on the box, I could see the nest contained no feathers.

White BB eggs

So we have our second nest of these “rare” white bluebird eggs. Most interesting to me is that I assumed that this was the Mom that had laid white eggs in a different box last year at Gate of Heaven. But from the pictures I took, I don’t see a band on her leg. And this couldn’t be one of her children, because they were all banded.

I’m really hoping to capture one of the female offspring that came from a white egg someday and see if she produces white eggs also. We get to learn so much from the banding!

 

Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | May 2, 2015

First Bluebird Babies are Here!

 And the winner is: Camp Addisone Boyce. These are the first bluebird babies of the year, as far as I know. They hatched yesterday, May 1. The nestbox is in Rockland County, at a Girl Scout camp. The box was built by two Girl Scouts working on their Bronze award. It’s been a most rewarding nestbox ever since, producing multiple broods of bluebirds every year since 2012.

1st BB babies 2015 CAB-jpg

Two Boxes with Six Eggs

While the nesting season is still off to a slow start, we have 2 nests with six eggs. One is at Scarsdale Golf Course and the other at Outhouse Orchards in N. Salem. Last year (and after a cold winter) we had only one nest with 6 eggs. One year we had 6 nests with 6 eggs after a very mild winter. Did not expect many nests with 6 eggs after this cold winter and spring – but the bluebirds don’t always read the manual.6 BB eggs at SGC

White Eggs

While white eggs are rare, we have a nest with 5 white eggs at St. Andrews Golf Course. Last year we also had a nest with white eggs at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. That female was banded and I’m hoping she nests again. Will be most interesting if she does and again produces white eggs. Or if we capture any of her banded offspring and they produce white eggs.  It is thought to be a genetic trait. For a complete discussion of white bluebird eggs, visit this excellent bluebird website: http://www.sialis.org/whiteeggs.htm

IMG_9605 (Medium)

Spotting lots of bands

I have a great camera with a 50 power zoom (Canon SX50 HS). I used this instead of binoculars to determine if our nesting bluebirds have bands before I have a chance to capture them. I’d say over half our nesting bluebirds are “ours.”

BB male w band SGC (Medium)

BB female w band SGC (Medium)

Here’s looking at you kid!

And for the fun of it…..BB female SGC 2015 box C2 (Medium)

Female guarding her eggs at Scarsdale Golf Club

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