Mariton: Winter Nest Box Maintenance
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.
Tom Levendusky and I were recently doing some owl box maintenance just before owls get serious about nesting. I found a Great-crested Flycather’s nest in one box. I expected this as we regularly saw a flycatcher watching us from this box on our June walks. One of the interesting things about the nest was little bits of thin plastic. Later that day, I checked Colin Harrison’s great book on bird nests and eggs. He notes that there are often bits of snakeskin or clear paper in Great-crested flycatcher nests. The plastic was definitely similar to snakeskin.
I was holding the ladder when Tom checked another box. He told me that there were two dead mice (actually a mouse and mole). After he described what he was seeing and took a photo, I realized it was probably an owl’s food cache. There is also an outside chance that a male is placing food in a nest box to attract a mate.