Mariton: Nest Box time

March 6, 2022

By Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

I’ve been checking my nest boxes occasionally since January.  Now, I’ve switched to weekly monitoring.    I’m already seeing Bluebird pairs investigating the boxes, which is part of their courtship.  They aren’t ready to actually start nesting, but it is important to get the boxes ready during the winter.  One morning, for reasons I still don’t understand, the female will say, “It’s time!”  Then the pair will start gathering materials and building a nest in the nest box.  Soon after the nest is built, she will lay eggs and start incubation.

A nest box with a few blades of grass. The beginnings of a Bluebird nest.

Photo by Tim Burris.

I may be a little obsessive about the nest boxes at Mariton.  I’ve been monitoring nest boxes for almost 40 years and I am still thrilled when I peek into a box and see nesting activity.  Finding  the first strands of grass in a nest box is just as exciting as finding chicks that are literally coming out of the shell.  Opening a box and seeing fully feathered fledglings and knowing that they will leave the box in the next few days is supremely satisfying.  I am fully aware that they did all the work, but I put the box there.

Freshly hatched Bluebird chicks, with one egg in the process of hatching.

Photo by Tim Burris.

You still have time (but not much) to clean out your boxes and make any repairs that are needed.