By Joan and Jerry Asling
Jerry and I spent the first part of April visiting each of our bluebird boxes to close them after leaving them open all winter. Since we began making replacement boxes about 10 years ago without vents, we had a real problem with mice thinking they had found mouse heaven. So now we open them in the fall and close them in the spring. Once again we found some boxes gone as fence posts were taken out. In other cases the fields are no longer pasture but corn or other grain crops now at one time we had about 530 boxes, but each year the number has diminished from that peak and this year had only 353.
We did a check the end of May into June to evaluate nesting. We were disappointed as our bluebird numbers were down considerably from other years. Unfavorable weather in the spring probably killed some early migrants.
Then, because of Covid-19 our youngest granddaughters ages 6 and 8 came to stay with us for 10 weeks. Fortunately their parents each took a off work midsummer so we had a break as we were getting weary. They joined us when we checked the boxes at Kinghurst and enjoyed being involved.
Here are our numbers with 36 bluebird nests we had 134 fledge; 131 Tree Swallow pairs fledged 707; 14 House Wrens produced 76 babies, 2 chickadees had 12 fledglings.
Also, with 30 bird boxes Sylvia and Sandy Bunker had 7 bluebird nestlings and they produced 28 fledged babies. Much better averages than we had.
We have been doing this for 26 years and have been keeping records. Here is the total of fledged birds. Bluebirds–3695; Tree Swallows–16,863; House Wrens–1054; Chickadees–165. Total fledged–21,777